March 03, 2020 4 min read

If you want to catch a fish, everyone knows you need a rod and some bait. You need the perfect fishing hole and a bit of patience as well. But often we forget about some of the most basic elements of fishing. 

How do you get the hook on the line? How do you make sure the fish doesn’t pull your bait – and your hook – right off the line and swim away? 

While rod and lure might be the basics of fishing, there are other fundamentals every angler should have to make those basic elements work. Chief among these are five basic fishing knots.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you look at the myriad of different knots and techniques. Fortunately, if you’re just getting started, you don’t need anything fancy. We’ve broken down the five most useful knots below.

  1. The Palomar Knot

This is one of the strongest knots out there, and one of the easiest to tie. 

The Palomar Knot

If you only have time to learn one knot before you head out to the lake, take a moment to learn the Palomar knot. You can use the Palomar knot to tie a hook to your line or to use a swivel to join two different lines together. You can also use the knot to attach a fly to your line as well. 

It’s one of the strongest knots and an easy one to tie. Make an overhand loop close to your hook or swivel. Then pull the end loop back over the lure and carefully adjust and tighten the knot so that it sits right at the top of the hook. Be careful passing the hook or lure through the end of the line as it can be unwieldy. 

  1. The Blood Knot

The blood knot is designed for tying two pieces of fishing line or rope together. This is a great knot to use if you’re left with strange lengths of line or if you decide to try your hand at fly fishing. This is a handy knot for making the most of your materials, and it’s also a great survival knot to know for just about any circumstance.

To tie a blood knot, wrap the end of line A five times around line B. Then loop the end of A back through the opening created where the two lines overlay.

The Blood Knot

Carefully tighten that half of the line and then repeat by looping line B over line A five times. Bring the end of B back through the starting point and tighten. 

The Blood Knot

  1. The Improved Clinch Knot

One of the most common knots in the world of fishing, you might already know the improved clinch knot. It’s used frequently for securing hooks and lures or anything else that needs to be attached to a length of fishing line. 

 The Improved Clinch Knot

The Improved Clinch Knot is a strong knot (although not as strong as some others on the list). It is often casually called a fisherman’s knot because it is so common in the world of anglers.  

To tie an improved clinch knot, feed the line through the eye of the hook or lure. Then wrap the end of the line around the straight line five times. Bring the end of the line back through the eye of the lure, taking care to feed it back through the loop created in the line as well. Pull to tighten. 

  1. J Knot

The J knot allows you to connect two different fishing lines together. While the blood knot will also do this, the J knot will allow you to tie lines together that have two different diameters. The blood knot is best for lines of the same diameter. 

J Knot

To tie a J knot, start by laying the two pieces of line in parallel. Then, pick up the ends of both parallel lines and tie an overhand knot. Feed the two pieces of line back through and over the sides of the original knot twice like you’re weaving them together. Then carefully pull the ends of the line to tighten the knot. 

The J knot can also be used when you’re preparing to battle some big fish. Tie two lines together in parallel and attach the bait and you have a bit of reassurance should a big one hit and a line snap. You’ll have at least one line still helping you pull that trophy in. 

  1. The Nonslip Loop Knot

Have a heavy hook or want to allow your lure a bit more movement in the water? The nonslip loop knot is very similar to the improved clinch knot but adds a bit of extra strength to the line and lure connection. 

A nonslip loop knot starts with an overhand knot close to where you want to place your lure. The end of the line then feeds through the eye of the lure and back through the overhand knot loop. The end of the line wraps around the main line five times and comes back through the overhand knot loop. Finally, you pull them all together to tighten. 

The Nonslip Loop Knot

A fishing trip can easily be ruined when you feel a bite only to have your bait - and your fish – come loose. Knots are one of the key foundational elements of fishing and knowing how to tie the right knot at the right time will give you confidence that your gear won’t fail at the worst possible time.