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juro 10-20-2003 05:24 PM

Tying a nail knot in the field...
First of all, I always put a large doll needle into my fly box to tie quick nail knots with. Why a needle? You can use the eye to thread the end of the nail knot across and pull the needle out to thread the tag through. Much easier than threading the tag through the loops. Anyway, in my saltwater box after a fulltime guiding year the needle was rusted up and staining my foam flybox so I tossed it. Wouldn't you know I needed it on my most recent charter!

I started to tie an albright but then realized the end of the flyline doubled over forms a very nice channel, like the gap between two fingers when held together.

After wrapping 6-8 wraps of butt, I simply slid the end of the nail knot through the gap between the two folded halves of the end of the fly line. The nail knot was ready to go, but no need for the double line so I then pulled the loose end out to end up single again through the nail knot ready to be tightened. Pull the fly line closer to the awaiting knot and voila! Pull both ends tight (opposite tightens opposite), trim tags and you're fishing.

It's really very easy to do and I don't even think I'll bother with a needle anymore!

Works for me.


FlyFishAR 10-21-2003 07:55 AM


You can also take a piece of folded tippet to wrap on. You do it the same way you use your doll needle. Or is that what you just described?


juro 10-21-2003 08:27 AM

Good point! I like it, another option for sure.

What I meant in this case was just use the groove in the fly line folded over as a threading slot verses the sideways pull device of the needle or tippet trick.

You know that nail knot tool with it's channel to thread; similarly I used the space between the folded fly line as the channel and then once completed (before tightening) I un-folded the flyline, slid to desired location, then pulled the nail knot tight.

FlyFishAR 10-21-2003 08:44 AM

I get it now.....

That's a great idea. :smokin:


kjackson 10-21-2003 03:12 PM

I've had really good luck lately using a Uni knot in place of a nail knot. The Uni-to-Uni is my replacement for a blood knot as it allows materials of widely different diameters to be joined in a very strong knot. It works great joining monofilament or fluorocarbon to gel-spun polyethylene lines. It's also easy to tie without my reading glasses ( a big plus on the water). The only kicker is that it might need to be adjusted a bit to get the tag end to lie parallel to the line/leader instead of jutting off at an angle.

Here's a link to the U2U knot:'Yes

The company is not a sponsor, but the info is worthwhile.


The address posts as a hot link, and I'm not sure how to delete that function...

juro 10-21-2003 03:18 PM

Hi Keith -

Nice chatting with you in Denver recently.

Say, do you use the uni to uni using the fly line?

kjackson 10-21-2003 03:59 PM

Sorry I'm a little fuzzy. Did an early morning trip down the Canal to see if the chums were in-- the scouts are, but visibility (because of the floods) was about three inches-- that's a weird condition for saltwater.

Anyway-- I use a single uni knot (tied with 30-pound leader material) on the end of the fly line. If I'm after big fish, I tie a small overhand knot in the fly line and hit the joint with CA glue. I haven't had this fail yet, but I suppose at some point it will.

I tried to find you at the end of the show for a catch up, but you weren't in the booth the two times I walked by... I hope you had a good show. I know CND got exposure-- on the shuttle ride to the airport, three people were talking about the rods.


flyfisha1 10-21-2003 05:14 PM

"but then realized the end of the flyline doubled over forms a very nice channel, like the gap between two fingers when held together."

Yup, I've been doing it that way for quite some time, since I somehow always manage to forget my knot tying tool.

t_richerzhagen 10-21-2003 05:40 PM

Nail Knot Failures
I have had the nail knot fail a couple of times by pulling the coating off the flyline, so I no longer use it. Have you had that experience in saltwater with bigger fish?

juro 10-21-2003 08:42 PM

Hi Ted -

In SWFF the most common line is the clear or semi-clear intermediate and lines like the Rio, Airflo or Wulff are tough coatings bonded to the core. I've not had any such problems, but I do recall that while winter steelheading with sinktips made from shooting heads I've had the problem once or twice when snagged but never on a fish.

My first choice is a cement splice, which is so streamlined and the same diameter as the line itself. I've found the old nail knot to be a little stronger but neither have given way on a fish for me so far.

Curious, what method do you prefer instead?

t_richerzhagen 10-21-2003 09:09 PM

Braided Loops
I have been using braide loops exclusively for steelhead and salmon fishing for a number of years. They have worked well for me. For larger lines, including many of the spey lines, I use the 50# braid for the loops. There is no danger off that failing with spey lines.

flytyer 10-22-2003 07:19 PM


For sink tips, I tie a nail knot over the doubled tip of the sink tip. Just make sure that the nail knot is very close to the loop before you pull it tight. And by using the loop as its own nail knot tool, it makes for a very fast, strong, efficient knot that will not slip because it will hang up and the small bulb the loop provides. Trey Combs showed this method to me some 11 years ago.

pst 07-27-2004 05:05 AM


To make a nail knot in the field, using a nail or a needle is definetely old-fashioned and difficult!

A much better option is to cut a 2-3cm (about one inch) piece from an Earwig (or cotton buds, whatever you call them), so it forms a small plastic tube.

Then simply tie the nail knot so that the tube is inside the knot, thread in the end of the leader and remove the tube and tighten.

It's very easy to tie this knot even with cold and shaking hands.

I put the plastic tubes in every pocket of my fly vest and wading jacket, so they are always available. So far the nail-knots have not failed once, even when fishing salmon or big pike. The ready-made loops however, have failed twice.

Samuli from Finland

juro 07-27-2004 05:16 AM

Samuli -

I don't think you read the post, or understood it in any case. I have used the "tube" method and it is much more difficult than what I am doing.

I am putting the tag end of the line thru the eye of the needle sideways after wrapping the loops, then just pulling the needle out to finish the nail knot.

This is SO much easier than threading the line thru the middle hole in a tube, pushing it all the way through the length of the knot, pulling out the tube, then tightening up the knot.

If you are thinking I am using a needle like the old "nail" method, I can understand why you think it's difficult. But that is not the case at all.

What I am doing is far easier and faster than a q-tip tube. I only need to place the tag into the needle eye, then pull the needle out and it does all the work. It takes about half of the time by the tube method and with much less difficulty.

But thanks for the suggestion just the same. I've tried them both but found the tube method may be much easier than the "old" nail method, but not nearly as easy as the side-eye method I am suggesting.

pst 07-27-2004 05:33 AM


You're right, it seems I misunderstood the way you are using the needle to make the knot. I stand corrected :smile: The problem with needles is that I always seem to lose the one I'm carrying, so having a cheap replacement (tubes) has served me well.

I suppose the next phase is to practice to make the nail knot without any tools, using the doubled flyline.

Thanks for the great tips!

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