The only 6 fly-fishing knots you ever need to know

Photo: Bureau of Land Management/Flickr

When you’re fly fishing, there are 1,000 ways to lose a fish. Some of them aren’t your fault, such as when a fish does something completely unpredictable (I once had a trout jump into a low-hanging tree branch, for example). Some lost fish offer great learning experiences, providing unforgettable lessons about what not to do next time. But no fly-fishing mishap is more egregious or preventable than knot failure, which is a pretty weaselly term considering the knot didn’t tie itself. Knot failure is actually angler failure.

The solution is simple and cheap, costing only time: Learn just a handful of knots, and then practice them over and over. You can do this almost anywhere or anytime—except on the water. With these six knots you can fly fish almost anywhere in Canada, and for any species of fish. They are all time tested, relatively easy to learn and don’t require any extra special tools. But you need to be able to tie them in dim light, with cold or damp hands, and jittery with nerves, as you watch the fish of a lifetime feeding just a few metres away. Learn your knots well now, during the long, dark months of winter, and come next season, you’ll only have 999 ways to lose a fish…