Tying The Right Knots

For most experienced anglers it may sound simple, but selecting and tying the right knot is sometimes the difference between catching fish and not!

Most of us grew up attaching a bait holder hook, a lure or a fly to our leaders using a simple and popular knot called the Improved Clinch. This is still a great knot for most fishing applications but today I want to talk to you about two knots that should be used far more often than most fisherman think.

Over the last few weeks I’ve talked a lot about fishing streamers because it’s one of my favorite techniques for targeting big fish in rivers and lakes. Streamer fishing is one technique that definitely requires the use of a special, open loop knot if you are going to get the max potential out of your streamer. I’ve fished right next to buddies who are using the same fly, at the same depth, in the same water and I’m catching fish at a higher rate than they are and I’m convinced that it was because they were using the wrong knot.

I always use one of two open loop knots when fishing any sub-surface fly to impart as much action as possible to the fly. By using a knot like the improved clinch which attaches the eye of the hook tight to the leader, you will reduce the amount of natural swimming action to your fly. So in these cases, we need to use either a Uni-Knot, sometimes called a Duncan Loop or a open loop mono knot or sometimes called the Rapala knot. Both are easy to tie and both allow the fly to swim more naturally because there is an open loop around the eye of the hook so it can easily swim up and down and side to side. The only difference between the two knots is that the Uni-knot is a sliding knot and the Rapala Knot is a fixed knot.

For this blog, I’m going to teach you how to easily tie the Rapala knot as most people will use this one for large heavy streamers since it will not tighten on its own while casting or fighting a fish.

The first step is to make a single overhand knot about 8″ up from the end of the leader. DO NOT PULL IT TIGHT! While leaving the knot open, push the end of the leader through the hook eye and back through the over hand knot that you made in the beginning.



From this point forward, you will be basically tying an Improved Clinch knot.Wrap the tag end of the leader around the leader above the overhand knot. The number of times will depend on how thick the diameter of the leader is that you’re using. If you’re using 4 or 5X tippet, you’ll wrap it around about 7 times. If you’re using very heavy leaders for Pike, Lake Trout or something like that, you might only use two or three wraps.


You’ll then push the end of the leader back through the half knot that you started with and back up through the space that was created when you did the wraps. At this point you will pull the knot tight, always getting your knots wet, and the knot is complete and ready to fish.


I always use one of these two open loop knots for fishing any sub-surface fly. I tend to use this one more for larger, heavier flies and I use the Uni-Knot of small nymphs. Either way, I can’t stress enough how strongly I feel about the importance of using one of these open loop knots any time you are fishing sub-surface patterns so that you’re fly will swim or tumble through the current more naturally.

I hope this helps improve your fishing and remember, practice these at home and don’t wait until the fishing are biting and you’re standing on the river before becoming proficient at tying all of your favorite knots.

Fish Strong, Fish Often!

Al Noraker

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One Response to Tying The Right Knots

  1. sam says:

    Why would you not always use an open loop not when fishing flys – dry or wet

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