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South Shore 08-06-2007 08:06 AM

Fluoro untying?
Went fishing last night and had a few bits on a wooly bugger, the most frustrating one being during the retrieve and I felt a pretty solid Whack! I paused for a second, pretty sure I set the hook on the retrieve. When I saw a good-size silver flash in the water I raised the rod to start the fight. However, one good tug and he was gone.

I brought the line in... and no bugger. It looked like it had untied, not snapped. There was a tight curl at the end that I think was where the knot had been. I had been using a Frog Hair leader, which I was told had some stretch to it unlike most fluoro leaders, and that I didn't need to leave much of a tag end. Is it likely that it untied? I was using an Improved Clinch Knot, with maybe 4 loops around the main line while tying.

I'm thinking I either need more loops around the main line, a longer tag end (I probably about 2mm max), or I didn't raise the rod fast enough and let him yank on it while I was holding the line in my line hand and didn't realize how much pressure I had on the fish. Any ideas?

BigDave 08-06-2007 08:18 AM

Try 6 turns on that clinch knot.

Usually the dreaded pigtail is a sign that the knot was knot tightened all the way.

South Shore 08-06-2007 10:17 AM

Thanks! I started giving it a couple more turns but all I got the rest of the night were a couple tiny bass on some dry flies. Not much of a challenge there.

It was just killing me though, that silver flash I saw was a good 15 inches long if not more and I have yet to pull in a trout on my fly rod.

juro 08-06-2007 10:37 AM

Also consider stronger knots for light tippets like the palomar for instance.

South Shore 08-06-2007 11:51 AM

Good to know. I thought the Palomar was actually weaker under a certain loading condition - maybe when shocked? I was using 2X with the Bugger though, so I don't think that would be considered light tippet... correct?

juro 08-06-2007 01:08 PM

I doubt if a palomar is weaker than a clinch under any circumstances (except faulty execution of the knot). Do some experimentation and see what you find out, I speak from my experiences only and people have different paths through the FF world.

I used to fish trout as a top target species. Frustration over lost trout on super-light tippets is actually what drove me to using the palomar when I was a teen. The difference was profound for me using the same tippet. They could pop the tippet but not the knot.

Doubling the single strand around the hook eye (like the palomar does) makes the clinch a stronger knot. I think they call it the trilene knot or something. I prefer the palomar, much easier to tie.

I have been a winter steelhead junkie for decades, in these presentations a fly ends up in the rocks fairly often. It's pretty clear that a palomar is a stronger knot when you are pulling out from a rockpile.

Other knots are more suited to applications despite possible loss of knot strength, like the non-slip loop which imparts better action to certain flies but needs to be checked and re-tied to keep it strong enough; the turle and double turle are great for loop eye salmon / steelhead hooks and snelling a tippet is a great way to tie hooks for trailers (e.g. coho salmon flies).

South Shore 08-06-2007 03:25 PM

Sounds like I'll be learning the Palomar then, thanks for the tips!

JR SPEY 08-07-2007 10:27 AM

My experience is that the typical improved clinch knot is one of the weakest you can use with fluoro. A step up would be an UNimproved clinch. Better yet is the so-called Trilene knot (essentially an unimproved clinch with two turns around the hookeye.) In my experience, a knot better than any of the above is the Pitzen. Also, I do not lubricate my knots when using FC as the material, at least the stuff I've used, is already very slippery. I think that's doubly important for a knot tied while actually fishing as it could be tested right away. One can Google up Pitzen to find very good diagrams and instructions. It really is an easy knot to tie. I also like the Palomar, but it uses up quite a bit more of the tippet than a Pitzen. I always thought it was better suited for use with conventional gear for that reason.

pescaphile 08-08-2007 12:21 PM

Fluorocarbon is notorious for slipping knots. The palomar will take care of this problem at the hook. I don't doubt the other knots that have been recomended will work also. The palomar is just the knot that I know and use.

Clinch knots are not good with fluorocarbon. Blood knots (essentially two clinch knots tied back-to-back) will also fail far too often with this material. Use a double or triple surgeon's knot with fluorocarbon instead of a blood knot.

juro 08-08-2007 02:51 PM

I haven't had any problems with 1/2 flouro half Maxima blood knots. I don't use flouro taper sections though, only tippet so not qualified to offer any observations in that area.

I hear flouro isnt the best for the environment so minimize it to use only when it will make a big difference and discard it properly when it's beat.

Nooksack Mac 08-19-2007 04:16 PM

Where less is more
I read that the factories have analyzed knot performance with micro-photography, as well as carefully controlled and measured comparison tests. An important discovery was that knots that fail prematurely usually slip internally before they come apart; hence the pigtail curls. Knot choice is important, and there are several that produce tippet-to-hook connections of above 90%. I like the double-loop cinch and the Pitzen (Pitzer?) knots.

But the problem with tying any knot is a matter of technique: you've got to get ALL the slack out of your knot in order to achieve optimum strength. After tying on a fly, have you ever pulled on the tag end with your teeth or pliers? The tag end got longer, didn't it? I don't think that's stretching; rather, it's the result of pulling slack out of the knot. And that makes it as strong as it can be. You can pull on it until it breaks (at that knot's maximum strength), but it won't slip.

About wraps: Most knots are devices designed to create friction, so much friction that the knot can't pull loose. The more wraps, the more friction. But there's a point of diminishing returns, when too many wraps creates so much friction that the knot can't be pulled tight. Try, as an experiment, tying a cinch-style knot with 10-12 wraps. You can't pull it tight, right? Tie it again with fewer wraps until you find the optimum number that allows you to pull it tight. Heavy tippet, and tippet tied with stiff mono, and some fleurocarbon, requires fewer wraps for an optimum cinch knot than 7X tippet.

chromedome 08-22-2007 12:20 AM

A knowledgeable clerk in the local fly shop told me there are special concerns with knots using frogs hair and that they recommend certain knots that could likely differ from what a person is used to.

Galong 08-22-2007 02:45 AM

I found a diagram of the Pitzen Knot at

Thanks guys... I learned something today. Now I need to rest my brain. :cool:

geardaddy37 08-22-2007 10:35 AM

thanks for the knot reference...I know what I tie, but don't know what it is called, so now I can actually reference what you guys are saying!

South Shore 08-24-2007 08:27 AM


Originally Posted by chromedome
A knowledgeable clerk in the local fly shop told me there are special concerns with knots using frogs hair and that they recommend certain knots that could likely differ from what a person is used to.

Local flyshop here says the Frog Hair is unique in that it will stretch a bit, unlike most fluoro. I don't know enough to discount this either way, but he said he uses it for most of his fishing and hasn't had any problems with an Improved Clinch.

Anyway, I got a couple smallish schoolies this last weekend in a creek on Cape Cod with a 2X leader (largest was only about 16-17"). Put some pretty heavy pressure on the larger of them and no problems so far. Just making sure I'm using a proper half-dozen turns and leaving about 3mm on the tag end.

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