There is a lot that can be said about something so simple and seemingly insignificant as fishing knots. I’ve heard discussions on knots get as heated as speaking about politics and like politics, there is seldom a right or wrong as it often comes down to individual philosophies or needs.
I have tried and used a number of different knots in different situations over the years and typically I fall back to the ones that I am comfortable with and can tie with confidence. I like the blood knot for tippet to leader because it just looks good, but I have to admit that the triple surgeon is likely a stronger and more versatile knot. I tend to lean towards the nail knot for line to backing or backing to leader, although most modern lines coming with welded loops and those loops are just fine. (It doesn’t hurt to learn the nail knot as there will come a time when it’s needed.) I use the clinch knot for heavily dressed surface patterns and poppers and the Rapala knot for everything else, and those round out my repertoire of knots most used.
If you talk to 10 different anglers though on what knots they use day in and day out, odds are you can get 10 different answers. Is there a right or wrong? Sure there is but if you are sticking within the realm of fishing knots and you are tying those knots correctly, whichever one you are using will seldom let you down.
If there is one thing that is consistent though, no matter what knot you use: lubricate it. Most monofilament and fluorocarbon lines will create a lot of heat and weaken at the point of cinching. A little spit goes a long way. When I was in the general tackle business many years ago, we had a “line strength” tester available to us and I was afforded the opportunity to test line strength of products that I sold, but more importantly, I was able to use this tool to test knot strengths. Of course, the strength of individual knot varies from about 80% to 95% of the lines break strength, however, there is no question that the most important part of any knot is to lubricate it. Dry knots were amazingly reduced to about 50% of the lines break strength and we tested this on both mono and fluorocarbon. The second big factor was how quickly the knot was cinched or tightened. As was said before, these materials create a good amount of heat when cinched, so it’s important to let the knot develop slowly. Whenever I teach knot tying, I always stress to “finesse” the knot tight, rather than pull it up quickly.
Knots can be a source of frustration and lost fish but if you practice a bit, use fresh line and follow the guidelines from above, your knots will not fail you.