The 5 fishing knots you can’t live without

Knot essential

Know these knots, and you can tackle almost any fish

Like so many of us these days, I seem to have much more time on my hands. I watched a captivating interview last week with Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut who commanded the International Space Station, and if there is anyone who understands self-isolation it is Hadfield.  And not just while he was up in the Space Station. Because the program can’t risk a crew member getting sick while in space, the quarantine regimen for astronauts is enormously complex.  So, what was Hadfield’s message for the rest of us? Chose something you’ve always wanted to learn how to do, and then do it.

I have always been a knot junkie and love learning how to tie new ones.  I’ll probably never have to tie a Klemeist , Prusik  or Bachmann knot to save myself on a mountain, but they are still ingenious and I loved learning how to make them.


On the other hand, I can’t tell you how many times a year I need to properly secure a load in the bed of my truck or on one of my trailers. This makes learning how to tie the Truckers Hitch  so well worth the few minutes it takes.  And if you’re like me, when it came time to secure a load in days gone by, I use to reckon that if one overhand knot was good, then a cluster of half-a-dozen must be better.  But the Truckers Hitch is so easy to learn and so ingenious to employ because of the leverage or pulley effect that you gain.  So, grab a length of rope, go outside into the fresh air and learn how to tie it in less than 15 minutes. You’ll feel like a genius.

While we are talking about one overhand knot stacked on top of another, watch the sloppy way most folks secure their boat when they tie up to a dock. If that sounds like you, now is the time to learn how to tie a few simple nautical knots, such as the Bowline, Cleat Hitch and Mooring Hitch.

And if you really want to impress your friends, learn how to tie the brilliantly simple Bank Robbers Knot or Getaway Hitch. This is the one the cowboys use to use to tie up their horses (I use it for my boat when I am stopping for just a few minutes to gas up at the marina). You’ll dazzle your friends to no end, when it is time to leave—or make a fast getaway—and you pull on the tag end and the knot unravels instantaneously.


When it comes to fishing knots, on the other hand, you can sit in your easy chair while you’re watching television in the evening, and tie them enough times to gain memory traction.  The Palomar knot, for example, is an essential to learn in order to tie terminal tackle (hooks, lures, snaps and swivels) to the end of your main line or leader.  Ditto, the Double uni-knot  for connecting two lines together—your leader to your main line, for example. I bet I tie literally thousands of back-to-back uni-knots every season.  I do so many that I can tie them in my sleep.

Walleye, carp and bass anglers, on the other hand, love the Snell knot for making crawler harnesses and attaching their hooks to their main lines. When you flip and pitch a soft-plastic bait Texas-rigged to your hook using a snell knot, for example, it kicks out like a dog’s leg and penetrates amazingly well when you set the hook. This is also why so many carp anglers favour it.

Finally, if you want to get a little fancier, check out the Alberto knot  and FG knot. They both originated on the saltwater side of things, but have crossed over to the mainstream freshwater community in recent years. For certain, they take a little more time to learn, but, hey, isn’t that what we have so much of these days?