One of the more important decisions when selecting your tackle and fishing rig is the choice of line. Most of us remember the first time we went out fishing. We probably used a worm and a hook with a spin caster reel and monofilament line. While that set up will definitely work to catch some fish, as you advance in experience, you will upgrade that gear.
When using braided line, many of the knots you learned for monofilament will not work. It is important to modify your setup for your environment and for what you are fishing for, but it is equally important to modify your technique to match that setup. This quick guide will give you some of the key knots for braided line.
One of the least expensive and effective upgrades you can do is to switch from monofilament to braided line. There are several benefits to braided rather than monofilament line. While some of these benefits are subjective depending on need, some are just general improvements.
Benefits of Braid
Braided line is not objectively better than monofilament, but monofilament is objectively worse at doing some things in particular.
When you are choosing which line to use, test weight is hugely important. Using a six-pound test for seven-pound bass will lead to broken lines every time. While braided line tends to be stronger in general, there is actually a bigger reason why braided performs better. The monofilament line gets weaker as it absorbs water. What started as a 20-pound test line may break at 14 pounds after it has been in the water all day.
A braided line does not have a similar decline in strength when it gets wet. Braided line can maintain its integrity after fishing with it all day, multiple days. That is a pretty important trait for something designed to be in the water all day to have.
As anyone who has ever tried to reel in a fish on the upper end of your line’s test weight can tell you, Monofilament stretches. Not only does that make it harder to reel your catch in, but it also can cause knots to fail. Mono that is stretched out won’t fully bounce back, which also makes the line more likely to snap later. If you have ever caught a hook in a weedy lake bottom, you also know how difficult it is to break loose when your line is stretching and bouncing.
The braided line doesn't really stretch. If you have 30 feet of line in the water, you will still have about 30 feet of line in the water once you have a fish pulling on it. That allows you to have a better feel for how much fight the fish has, equipping you to have more finesse in how you reel.
The last big benefit of braided line is in its size to strength ratio. As we’ve mentioned, braided line is stronger than monofilament, but it is also thinner for comparable strength. That means you can typically get longer, better casts out of braided line as well.
Knots for Braid
If you are upgrading to a braided line, you likely already know the basics of knot tying. Braided line is much more flexible than monofilament, and as such, ties easily, but if you don’t use the proper knots, its flexibility and slipperiness can make it come untied while it is in use. Some of those monofilament knots will still work, but many of them will need to be modified. Others will just have to be replaced with more effective knots.
The Braid Uni
The Uni is a versatile knot and can be used for hooks and standard lures, as well as swivels with movement. The uni for braids is just a little different than the uni for monofilament.
- Thread line through the eye of the hook.
- Pull at least 6 inches through— better a little more than you need than not enough, you can always clip excess tag off later.
- Go back through the eye.pulling all but a small loop back through. Make a loop with the tag alongside the mainline.
- Wrap tag through the loop more than ten times, working up the line away from the hook.
- Lubricate and pull connections tight.
- Make a loop at the end of your line.
- Pass the loop through the eye of your hook. Alternately, pass the tag end through the hook eye, then pass it back to create a loop.
- Tie a square knot with the doubled line, with the eye of the hook in the middle of the square knot.
- Pull that folded over loop that acted as the tag end on your square knot back over to the other side of the hook.
- Moisten the knot and tighten.
The FG Knot
This is not a hard knot to tie, but it seems very difficult until you have it down. Once you learn it, you should be able to tie it with no issues. This is very helpful when joining two lines, for example, when putting a mono leader on your braided line. One of the strengths of the braided line is high visibility, but that is a weakness if the bass sees it too. Using a leader allows you to bypass that, but it needs a strong attachment.
- Lay down your rod to put weight on the line, and hold the line in your teeth, or have another set of hands hold the tension.
- Lay your mono leader perpendicular to the taut braid.
- Wrap the end of your leader under and around the braid, working away from you.
- Repeat the last two steps, but work toward.
- Continue, alternating between away and toward until you get to twenty wraps.
- Hold the knot firmly, and let the tension out of the braid.
- Loop the tag end of the braid around the tag of the leader and the braid below the knot.
- Pass the tag end through the loop.
- Repeat this loop step, then moisten and tighten.
- Trim excess tags on leader and braid.
The Albright knot is another very useful knot for attaching a leader to a line. While not quite as strong as the FG, it also doesn’t require you to hold the line in your teeth and takes half the steps. Depending on your environment, this knot is likely to be as strong as you need.
- Form a loop in your leader line.
- Pass the tag end of the braid through this loop.
- Wrap the braid around itself and the loop.
- Pass the end of the braid back through the small amount of loop remaining at the bottom of the knot.
- Lubricate and tighten.
The Alberto Knot
This knot is essentially a stronger version of the Albright knot above, making for maximum action on a barely visible fluorocarbon line.
- Form a loop with the fluorocarbon line.
- Pass your braided line through the loop, then wrap it around the fluorocarbon line about 7 times, working away from the loop.
- After your 7th wrap, start wrapping in the opposite direction, working your way back up toward the loop.
- Pass the braided line through the loop the same way you passed it in initially, so that you can pull the two braided ends to tighten.
- Trim off the excess ends.
The Arbor Knot
While most of these exist to attach line to line or line to hook, the arbor is used to attach a braided line to a reel. While it is helpful to have a professional load your reel to avoid tangles and snags, a fisherman should be able to do everything, even if you don’t usually.
- Wrap your line around the spool a couple of times.
- Tie an overhand knot around the mainline.
- Tie another overhand above the first, just on the tag end.
- Pull the line on the spool until it hits the small knot at the end of the tag on the line.
- Pull it tight, spool your reel.
The Surgeon’s Loop
There are many reasons why you might need to put a loop at the end of your line. It can act as an attachment point for clip-in lures or weights, for example. The surgeon’s loop is easy to tie, a strong loop that doesn’t slip out when properly tied.
- Fold the tag end of your line into a loop.
- Treat the end of your loop as your tag working end of your line for a second.
- Pull that loop around into another loop.
- Wrap your modified working end loop around your second circle loop
- Moisten, tighten, trim tags
These are not all the knots that exist for braid. This list gives you some solid options to do every task you might need for your braided line. Practice these knots regularly, not just when you are out fishing. You should be able to tie these basically with your eyes closed, as you will often need to be able to attach a leader or put on a new hook quickly while the fish are biting.
When you finally get out and start using your braided line, expect to feel some differences in the way it responds and feels if you are coming off of a monofilament line.
Practice your knots and cast at home so that you get used to the differences, and you will quickly see all the difference with the fish you bring in!