“Hi Chris. A quick question on knots. Which knots do you use for attaching tippets to the micro rings on your tapered leader and also for tying flies to tippet. I was so impressed with us fishing such light tippets for big fish without getting broken off once that I’m keen to replicate it.”
“Hey Steve. I simply use an improved clinch knot, tied very well. A uni knot will do just the same job, and if forgoing the tippet ring, a simple double blood knot, or surgeons knot will see you right. It’s important to know, and have a well practiced leader to tippet knot, and a tippet to fly knot, but what’s most important is knowing just how to tie them well. Exceptionally well.
It’s all about how you seat the coils. I’ll push them down snug with my fingernail rather than just pulling the line tight and have them catch prematurely, cutting into the main stem of the tippet. Personally, I used 5 turns for more protection of the lighter 5x and 4 turns for the 3 and 4x we used.
But that’s not all. Every time we reattached the fly to the keeper I would run my fingers along the tippet and over my knots to ensure the integrity of the line. Any kinks, abrasion or blemishes and I would replace it immediately.
It’s also important to replace the knots regularly. Knots generally work by biting into themselves to avoid slippage. Over time, this weakens your nylon and so I replace my knots regularly throughout the day, maybe hourly or so, even if we have not cast at a fish... Here’s a wee test: tie a leader to tippet knot and leave it overnight. See how strong it is the next day...
I will always take a minute or two to retie my knots after landing a fish or hitting a heavy snag, or in any situation where my leader has come under substantial stress.
This is where the tippet ring comes into play, preserving the life, length and taper of the leader after so many knot changes throughout the day. Another reason I use tippet rings is to allow a quick step down / change up in tippet diameter. We would use 3x whenever those stoneflies or stimmies were employed, yet drop right back to 5x for the smaller flies we pitched to fish in spookier edgewaters a moment after. Knots can often be hit and miss when there’s a significant difference in the diameter of the materials used.
It’s the attention to detail that gets us those fish when many others just wouldn’t have gotten away with the pressure we put on our tippet.”