Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 59 - Knots

On the way home from our Bible Study (at the Irish Pub) my wife, a staunch follower of this blog, asked me what I was planning on writing about tonight. I replied that I planned on writing on something a little more technical and little less "heady". So without further ado, here we go into my discussion on knots.

It seems that fly anglers get a reputation for spending time on the water tying intricate knots. To be honest, we get that reputation for good reason. When we break down our system, we have a knot that holds our backing to the reel, a knot that holds our backing to the fly line, a knot that holds our leader to our fly line, a knot that holds our tippet to the leader, and finally a knot that holds our fly to the tippet. So I ask you, is truly any wonder we get questioned about needing good eyesight and dexterity of the phalanges?

The other day I was fishing a nice pool below a little waterfall. The pool was rather shallow on the edges, but had a nice good deep hole in the middle. My partner in crime noticed that there looked to be some nice size natives holding in the pool and that I should try for them. I had recent luck on an egg pattern, and so I tied on a Y2K pattern (cheese colored). My drift was perfect: I cast up into the turbulent waters near the falls and then drifted the egg slowly through the hole, making sure to high stick the line as it passed in front of me. I was rewarded with a solid strike. I set the hook, felt the familiar weight, and then... nothing. I pulled in my line and sure enough I saw the curly-cues at the end of my tippet. My knot had failed. <>

If you've done any length of angling, you can feel my pain at my loss. We've all tied on a fly hastily to meet the demands of our angst (either driven by rising fish or the excitement of just being on the water). We've all felt the sudden loss of weight on our line and only to our horror realized that we had been "broken off". Yet we know that in reality if we see those curly-cues on the end, our knot failed and we are to blame. (If the line had a clean break on the end, we could then boast about how big the fish was.)

When I tie on my fly, I use the Improved Clinch knot. It's a pretty basic knot and relatively easy to tie: through the eye, five twists, through the gap at the eye, and then through the large loop just created, a little saliva to help the process and viola! The downside of this knot is that comparatively speaking it has a low success rate (read: knot failures) and doesn't allow for a free natural drift.

To combat the the low success rate, I used the the Rapala knot for a while. This knot requires the the tippet to pass through the eye of the hook twice before proceeding. This gets to be quite troublesome when using smaller flies (as the tippet barely passes through once). I've quit using this knot despite the fact that it has an extremely high success rate (almost 99%).

The Palomar knot also has an extremely high success rate, plus it is real easy to tie. The downside is the same as the Rapala knot, it requires the tippet to be doubled through the eye hook. So while it is very strong, it doesn't meet the requirements for smaller flies.

Now here is where my wisdom starts to fail. The Turtle knot seems to solve the problem of the easy to tie on small flies, and I can't remember (as I don't use it normally) but I also think that if done correctly you can leave a gap to let the fly swing naturally(?). I think that you lose some of your knot strength this way also, but I think it is on par with the Improved Clinch knot.

So, I ask you the reader, "What is the best knot to use when tying your fly to the tippet?" I'd like to be able to tie a fly on quick (as when the fishing is on, I want to be casting to the fish), but I'd also like to have a very high success rate with the knot. It seems to me that it is a give and take relationship and comes down to personal preference. What do you choose?

1 comment:

  1. I prefer the blood knot to tippet, as compared to the surgeons knot, and the clinch to the fly ... the harvey dry fly knot is pretty nice, allows a more natural drift... but I can work with less drift with mends and an easier knot.

    Grizzly Jim