Tying knots is an everyday occurrence when you are fishing. Knots to tie the backing line to the reel, the line to the backing line, the leader to the line and the terminal tackle to the leader all have their own requirements, and, more importantly, they all have to hold during a fight with a big fish.
Unfortunately all to often a big fish is lost because this series of knots are either tied poorly or the wrong knot is being used for the purpose. For the purposes of this article, let's start from the terminal tackle and work backwards.
The improved clinch knot and its modification now known as the Trilene knot are excellent for tying a leader to a hook. simply slide the end of the leader through the eye of the hook, double it back and make six turns around the standing line. Bring the end of the line back through the first loop formed behind the eye an pull it tight. A more secure to tie this is to do the aforementioned procedure, but after you pass the tag end through the loop by the eye, slide it back through the big loop as well and then pull tight. Use six turns on a light line and as little as four on a heavy or thick line.
There is a modification to this universal knot that works to increase the strength of the knot. It's called a double loop Improved clinch knot or, more recently, the Trilene knot. The difference is that when you first pass the line through the eye of the hook, do it again. That is, make two loops through the eye rather than one. This means there are two widths of line contacting the metal of the hook eye. This helps prevent chafing and wear on the line as the hook pulls against it and provides extra strength at this point.
When you want to get more action out of your lure there is a nonslip loop that works extremely well. This knot leaves a loop at the end of the line that does not draw tight down onto the eye of the hook. This unsnugged loop allows the eye to ride back and forth more naturally at the end of the line. It allows jigs and weighted flies to appear more natural on the fall, swim or drift. It is really popular with fly fishermen, but is often used in a variety of conditions. The nonslip loop knot has gone by several names over the ages, most recently the Rapala knot, but it has been around since man began tying knots. It has become my fav.
It is very easy to tie. Take the the end of the line and make a simple half knot in it leaving six inches or so on the tag end. slide the tag end through the eye of the hook and then pass it back through the half loop. Now take that end and wrap it around the standing line seven times for line under 10lb. test, five times for 10-15 lb. test, and four for anything heavier. Bring the tag end back through the half loop, moisten it and pull it from both ends until it is all tight.
The third knot is called the blood knot. It is the basic way to tie two lines of somewhat similar diameter. The advantage of this knot is its low profile which allows it to flow easily through the eyes of your rod. It is a very popular knot with fly fishermen, but is used often by spin casters as well. It is really an improved clinch knot tied once on each line.
To tie this knot, lay two tag ends of lines out on the table in front of you with about an eight inch over lap. Wrap one about five times around the other. Bring that tag end back and between the strands where they first overlap. Now take the other tag end and wrap it around the standing line and bring it back to the center loop and pass it through in the opposite direction of the first tag end. It will look a lot similar to the improved clinch knot. Now simply draw the lines together.
This will give you a very strong, low-profile knot that will really hold two line together. It is the best knot to connect a leader to a running line.
There are thousands of knots that will work under varying conditions, but the three described above will get you through most situations. Remember that your whole rig is only as good as your weakest knot. Take the time to learn how to tie them well.