The super-simple, must-know figure-eight knot is perfect for muskie and pike leaders

Every knot has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to ease of tying and its ultimate holding power. For most of my general fishing applications, I rely on three knots: back-to-back uni-knots for attaching my leader to my mainline braid, and either a Palomar or Trilene Knot to attach my lures to my leader. I’ve tied these knots so many time that I could quickly fashion any one of them while standing blindfolded, in a rocking boat, at midnight.

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But, they’re generally best suited to the lighter (4- to 17-pound) lines that we use typically use for walleye, bass, yellow perch, crappies and trout.  When you move up to the much heavier and thicker 80- to 130-pound-plus monofilament and fluorocarbon leader material that we use to fashion muskie and pike leaders we need something different. Enter the super-simple figure-eight knot.

It is the go-to knot for many saltwater anglers who fish for species like tarpon and giant groupers, where 100-pound-test fluorocarbon and monofilament line is standard equipment and, in some cases, considered light. I’ve been using the same knot to fashion my toothy-critter leaders for the past couple of years, and I’m amazed how well it holds. I do use crimped leaders sometimes, as well, but I have always been leery about the metal clips compressing and possibly weakening the line. If you like crimped leaders, go for it, but I’ve come to rely on the figure-eight knot because it is so darn simple to tie and so strong.

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You simply wrap the tag end of your leader material, like 80- to 100 pound test Maxima Ultragreen monofilament or 130-pound test Maxima fluorocarbon around your thumb twice after you pass it through your snap or swivel. Then you take the first loop and pass it through the second one so that when it slips off your thumb and you start to slowly pull it tight, you’ll see the letter “8” clearly form in the line. Then, wet the knot with some saliva and using a pair of pliers, pull steadily on only the tag end.  After you’ve tightened it sufficiently, pull on the main line and the knot will slide right up and into place beside your terminal tackle.

At this stage, before I cut off the tag, I always put a long thin piece of metal through the snap or swivel and place it between my feet, before wrapping the leader around my hand and pulling it as hard as I possibly can.   Voila – the super simple and exceedingly strong Figure Eight knot. 

Like any knot, practise makes perfect, so you’ll want to rehearse it several times. When you do, use string rather than stout mono or flourocarbon, which has a tendency to jump off your finger.  Here is a great video showing you how to do it.  I wished I’d learn this knot years ago.

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