Knowing your Knots!

Monday, October 27, 2014
Post by : 
Peter Phelps

Certainty not the most exciting topic to talk about in fishing but a very important one, the way you connect your lure to your line could help you put more fish in the boat in ways you did not even realise. The days of having one simple “fishermen’s knot” to suit every situation are gone; there are hundreds of styles of knots out there to tie to your lure and or leader, but as you will soon find out even the best anglers keep it all very simple.

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First we will start at the lure, the way you tie to your lure can determine the action. For example starting at the basics, tying directly to a lure that requires to pivot on the tow point such as a crank bait without a spilt ring, a loop knot, or a line clip, the crank bait will not dive and swim to the best of its ability. Some anglers like to leave the spilt ring attached to the tow point and tie directly to it, or removing the ring and tying a loop knot to the tow point, both have their advantages and disadvantages. By removing the split ring and tying a loop knot you remove one more point in the connection to your bait that can fail. The con is that tying a loop knot to the wire tow point introduces the constant wearing or pivoting on the line slowly over time creating a weak point, care should be taken doing this on crank baits that have been tuned to run straight with pliers creating sharp points on the wire tow, using light line, or jerk baiting with the constant jerking forward weakens the line, and should be retied periodically. By leaving the split ring on the tow point it is important that you tie to the correct part of the ring to assist it not opening up when applying pressure, having rings open up on a big fish is not a nice feeling.  By tying to the opposite side of the ring you feed onto, ensures your knot holds together the ring and assists it staying together if you have to put the hurt on a big fish.

 

Next we will step into the simple jig head rigged plastic, such as a paddle/boot tail and curl tail grub, they are both commonly used here in Australia and they can be fished with a direct tie or a loop knot. Both will swim exactly the same on a straight retrieve but twitch the plastic or let it drop and then we have completely different actions. Anyone who has access to a swimming pool to swim their plastics in and watch how they work after imparting some action will do wonders for their fishing to help them visualise what their plastic is doing under the water. Direct tying works well if you are casting to fish and the retrieve is fairly straight back, on the drop the plastic will stay almost horizontal under a tight line as its tail beats towards the bottom, if you were to twitch or rip the plastic it would surge forward in a fairly straight movement. With a loop knot tied plastic the nose will point down on the drop, and on a twitch or rip you might get some sideways action depending on the plastic and jig head combination.

Another example is modern day poppers, most will sit tail down and will walk the dog quite easily with a loop knot or split ring on the tow point but if you were wanting to work it in a popping motion or shaking it on the surface a more direct line to your popper works better.

Drop shotting plastics requires a perfect set up and knots to get results, most anglers know the basic rules of a drop shot rig, a hook above a weight, but the knot you tie to your hook determines everything. When tying to a drop shot knot it is required to be compact and strong, the tag end needs to pass back through the hook eye so the hook sits horizontal with the line. With a bulky knot it would restrict itself and end up with the hook sitting lopsided which would create a plastic that didn’t sit straight hence why the Palomar Knot is best suited.

All these things should be considered when trying to get the most out of your lures.

Most of the Australian bass fishing population used super, fused or braided line and a leader set up. We have previously discussed the advantages of sensitivity and casting distance, but are we all using the right knots to get the most out of them. The main line to leader connection knot is probably the most important one as most knot failures happen here, this knot determines our breaking strain and cast ability. A large connection knot with most modern day rods using smaller guides will restrict your casting distance and accuracy. I like to think of it this way, when fishing a tournament you have a set amount of time, for you to be successful you need to use all of your available time, if you can cast further and  more accurately you are covering more water and giving yourself more of a chance to catch fish. Not being able to reach that snag or weed edge because your knots are too big and the wind or current is moving you away, is a missed opportunity.

Once you have your set up all tied it is now time to set the reels drag. As a general rule of thumb 1/3 of a lines breaking strain is what is needed. For example if you are running 10lb you would use 3-4lb of pressure required to pull line off the spool. You can attach a weight scale to your line to get the feel of how much tension is required. Not to confuse the matter any further if you are running super, fused or braided line, they usually break at a higher rate than what is indicated on the box, anglers running this braid will be aware of this and have something like 4lb braid main line with an 8lb leader with 2.5lb of drag pressure.

There is also new PE braids that are developed to break at their stated breaking strain and care should be taken not to confuse these with other super, fused or braided lines. Many anglers have been caught buying new line only to realise it breaks a lot easier than they were expecting. As you improve you will know how much tension you can put on certain lines and knots.

I contacted some B.A.S.S Nation Pro’s and asked them what their thoughts were on knots, which ones they preferred and I saw a common trend between all.

Matt Johnson a skillful Queensland based Angler likes to keep it simple and universal across all his setups so that he can have confidence in all his knots.  ” I use a Half Blood Knot to attach to all lures, except when throwing finesse plastics I will tie a loop knot. I retie to the lure often, particularly on vibrating lures such as blades, spinner baits and lipless crank baits, as the vibrating action can work the knot loose, or weaken the blood knot. I leave the split rings on lures if they come with them, and use the clips on blades” Matt quoted. Matt’s main setups consist of a fluorocarbon leader and braided main line. He will tie a FG knot to connect his leader and when using new PE braids he adds a drop of super glue to the knot to prevent slipping. When in a Tournament if Matt needs to retie and he doesn’t have another rod ready to go, he uses aAlbright knot because of the time limitations when having to retie a FG knot.

Winner of the B.A.S.S Nation Boondooma Battle 2014 Brad Clark uses the uni knot to tie leaders direct to jig heads and spinner baits. Brad has a slight improvement on the basic uni knot and notes that he does five to six turns with the line and then passes the tag back through the loop to lock it off. For his lipless crank baits and divers Brad removes the split rings and uses Norman Speed Clips tied to his leader, the Speed Clips also helps changing lures quickly. Brad noted that a costly lost fish during a tournament due to a loop knot letting go has turned him away from them and uses the Speed clips from now on. For Brad’s main line to leader connection he ties an Improved Albright, he does not double the braid before tying the Improved Albright, even when using braid as thin as 2lb. Brad also added “I make sure I retie the leader and lure connection after each day during competitions, as the constant casting with the leader to braid knot running through the runners will weaken it”.

Consistent bass angler Atomic Pro Adrian Melchior shared his thoughts “Most of my braid to leader knots are just a double uni knot, this is a great knot for all line classes used on bass, buts its only problem can be the knot hitting the guides” he combats this by varying his leader length for each setup. Adrian believes some knots can be too complicated to tie on board a boat in a tournament, especially if it is windy “I keep it simple and with this knot it rarely breaks on me”. When it comes to the connection with the lure he removes split rings and ties a loop knot. For jig heads and flies he also ties a loop knot believing it gives the lure more action.

 

NSW Pro Gregg Flett stated “You can get away with using only three knots for all your lure casting, a FG knot for braid to leader, a Rapala loop knot and a Uni knot. By keeping it simple you can become confident in these knots and over time you should be able to tie these with your eyes shut”. Gregg said he uses the Rapala loop knot to maximize the lure’s action, he uses this on everything including casted plastics, surface, beetle spins, hard bodies and Blades. Gregg added he removes clips on blades and replaces with them a split ring to minimise tangles, takes off split rings on hard bodies and ties the loop knot to both. The Uni knot is used on his spinner baits, certain hard bodies and presenting vertical plastics. Gregg says ”a Uni Knot tends to help prevent my lure from spiraling on the drop causing line twist and also an unnatural presentation”. Gregg’s preference for the FG Knot “leaves me with the smallest of knots to travel through my rod guides with no resistance. It leaves no tag end from the leader. Once learnt and practiced it can be done quite quickly”

 

All the B.A.S.S Nation Pros interviewed have quoted the same simple set of rules ensuring their knots are sound, test them after tying, ensuring correct drag settings to the line being used and by following these rules they have not had issues with lost fish from poor knots in years, which can often be the difference between landing a fish or the good old story of the big one that got away.

Next up we will be looking into casting, different styles and making sure you can get the most out of every cast.