You can buy the most expensive tackle there is. You can have a professional rod and reel, a high-end bass boat, and a line on the best honey hole to fish this side of the Mississippi. If you can’t tie the right knot for your line and lure, you won’t be catching much.
This brief guide will teach you the basic knots you should know to get started bringing in those prize bass, and maybe even work yourself up to tournament bass fishing.
There are a few basic parameters to be aware of when learning to tie fishing knots. These knots will all be impacted by the type of line you are fishing with. All of the knots in this guide will work with monofilament line, as this is the most common freshwater fishing line in use. Not every knot you know will work for monofilament, so choosing a good fisherman’s knot is important.
All of these knots should be lubricated when tightening, or they will slip right back out. Nothing like losing a $15 lure on the cast to an improperly tightened knot to ruin a good day on the water! Make sure you have the right test weight line for the lure you are using as well.
The most important thing to remember regarding knots is to practice them when you are off the water until they become second nature. Boy scouts challenge themselves to learn their important knots until they can tie them with their eyes closed. That is helpful advice for novice anglers as well. Tying one of your loops overhanded rather than underhanded is all it takes for a nearly indestructible knot to become something that comes loose at the first wiggle.
Terms To Know
To follow step by step knot tying instructions, it is important to know a few key terms.
The bight (pronounced like “bite”) is any bend of the line between the ends that does not cross over itself. This is typically where two parts of the line or two pieces of separate lines might overlap.
A loop is exactly what you think it is: a bight that crosses itself.
The working, or running, end of the line is the part that is being moved around.
The standing end of a line is the part that is not being moved. This is the end of the line that comes from your reel toward the lure.
Even though it is called a knot, the overhand is really just a closed loop. It is used to secure the end of some knots, or as a stopper in some slip knots. To form an overhand, pass the working end of a line through a loop you have already formed.
Now that those are out of the way, let’s talk knots.
Knot #1: Double Surgeon's Loop
This is a great static loop at the end of your line that won’t close up after tying. It works really well for lures that will be clipped in or any lure with a lot of action. The loop won't draw up on your lure and keep it from moving.
To tie a double surgeon’s loop, create a bight several inches from the end of your line to double the line. Treating your bight as the working end of your line, tie a loose overhand knot. Pull the loop back through the opening of the overhand knot. Lubricate and tighten.
Knot #2: Palomar Knot
The Palomar is very similar to the Double surgeon loop, in that it is based on a simple overhand and doubled line. It is a great knot for attaching a lure or hook to a fairly thin line. The opening of the hook will need to be big enough to pass the line through while doubled.
To tie the Palomar, create a bight several inches from the end of your line, folding it tight. Treat the bight as your working end, and pass it through the opening of your lure. Tie the doubled line into an overhand knot, with the hook loop in the middle of your overhand. Keeping your knot loose, pull the loop around to the other side of your hook. Lubricate, and pull tight. Trim off any excess line from your original working end.
Knot #3: Improved Clinch Knot
This is a very strong knot for attaching a line to a lure, especially if you aren’t sure what the water conditions are going to be. It is a slightly more complicated knot than some of the others here, but with practice, it can be done in seconds.
The improved clinch is also known as a fisherman’s knot, because it is primarily used by fishermen, but also because it is the knot every fisherman should know. It gets stronger the more pressure is placed on it, making it extremely effective for attaching to lures where you expect to have some fight (with fish, or with underbrush).
To tie an improved clinch knot, pass the working end of the line through the lure’s loop. Pull several inches through to work with. Wrap the working end around the stand end of your line 5 or more times. Pull the working end back through the loop created closest to the hook/lure, then through the bigger loop created when you doubled the line back on itself. Lubricate and tighten.
Knot #4: Turle Knot
The Turle is not a super common knot for bass fishing. It is really only effective for attaching smaller hooks to fairly thin lines with a lot of flexibility. A simple knot, the turle doesn’t have a lot of strength, especially for the varied pressure of fighting bass onto the shore. The simplicity of this knot is helpful to quickly get a knot on the hook for low impact usage like a stringer, where you are keeping fish alive after catching but aren't going to be fighting them through obstacles while they resist.
To Tie a Turle, pass the working end of your line through the eye of your hook. Tie a square knot, with the shaft of the hook in the middle of the loop. Lubricate and tighten, pulling the knot up against the eye of the hook. Trim any excess line, but leave enough leading end that the knot doesn’t untie—you don’t have enough loops to hold without a little excess.
Knot #5: Blood Knot
The blood knot is basically a modified fisherman’s knot. As opposed to the other knots listed so far, the blood knot is not used to attach a line to a hook. Blood knots are used to connect two lengths of line together, and it doesn’t matter if the lines are the same material or different materials of different sizes.
The blood knot is a highly useful, highly versatile knot that can be used to attach a leader when running a trotline, or attaching a transparent mono leader onto a heavier braided line. It is one of those knots that seem complicated when you hear it, but once you have tied it a few times, it will feel like second nature.
To tie a blood knot, lay your lines side-by-side, with the working ends pointing in opposite directions. Put a bight into one of the lines (line a) twisting it around the other line (line B) at least five times, back toward the standing end of line a. Hold that twist. Do the same thing with line b, wrapping around line a. Take the working ends of each line, and bring them back to the middle, passing through the loop between the two twists. Lubricate and tighten. Pull the lines in opposite directions to tighten fully.
Knot #6: The Alberto Knot
This knot is becoming really popular in the world of bass fishing as it gives maximum action on the line with seemingly invisible fluorocarbon. It’s perfect to join two lines of a different diameter and composition (usually braided line to a fluorocarbon leader), making for a strong braid that’s more reliable than the standard Albright knot it tends to replace.
To tie this knot, form a bight with the fluorocarbon line. Pass your braided line through the loop at the end, and wrap it around the fluorocarbon about seven times, working your way down the line. Then, work your way back up toward the loop and wrap it seven times over in the opposite direction. Pass it through the loop in the same orientation it passed through originally, then pull the two braided ends to tighten. Trim off the excess ends and your knot is good to go!
As you spend more time on the water, you will learn more knots that may work in very specific settings. This list is just a starting point to give you at least one t knot for the standard scenarios you may see while fishing. It includes simple knots that can be used to attach a hook to a line or line to line. If you are using more specialized types of lures and lines, there will definitely be some knots that work even more effectively.
Every fisherman has his secret fishing spot, and every fisherman has the one lure that always seems to work for him. You may decide that a different knot that isn’t listed will be your go-to for everyday hook tying. There is no magic formula that works for every fisherman every time, but this list has what you need to go ahead and get out on the water.