Among the many essential skills that go into successfully catching a fish, one reigns supreme – correctly tying the right type of knot.
Although countless knots can be used for fishing, there are just a handful every angler should know, whether you’re a true beginner or a seasoned vet.
Because tying a proper knot is such a critical aspect of not only hooking a fish, but also reeling it in successfully, I’m going to break down these must-know fishing knots in detail.
Here are the 10 best fishing knots (plus a couple extras) that everyone needs to know!
Fishing Knots 101
Fishing knots differ from knots you’d tie in rope or paracord in one main way – they’re not meant to be untied.
Because fishing line is so cheap, knots tied in monofilament, braided, and fluorocarbon fishing line are not designed to be untied after use. When you’re done with a particular knot, simply discard the fishing line are start afresh.
Another reason fishing knots aren’t designed to be untied is to increase their strength, compactness, and reliability.
Almost all fishing knots are pulled extremely tight after tying to improve reliability and also to ensure that the knot is smoothly tightened (a bit of saliva or another lubricant will help your knot tighten smoothly versus a dry knot).
Finally, it’s standard practice to closely trim the end of the fishing line at the knot. You don’t want a stray end sticking out at the knot. Nail clippers are the best tool for this job.
All of the knots outlined below can be tied by hand with some practice. However, some anglers prefer to use a fishing knot tying tool, of which many exist, although I personally haven’t used any of them myself.
So, What Are the Best Knots for Fishing?
Fishing knots have a wide range of uses – from joining lines together (of various sizes) to attaching a line to a hook or swivel to attaching the line to a lure. You’ll find the perfect knot for every job below!
1. Fisherman’s Knot
The aptly named fisherman’s knot is perhaps the single most useful fishing knot (in my opinion, at least).
This knot’s primary use is to join two separate lengths of line together, although it’s also ideal for attaching a hook to fishing line.
Not only is this knot ideal for thin diameter threads like fishing line, but it’s easy to tie and very strong. It’s also notable for not slipping, even under immense strain.
What I like best about the fisherman’s knot is just how easy it is to tie – even with cold, wet hands (which are all too common when fishing). It’s one of those fishing knots that every angler needs to have in their arsenal.
Over the years, the fisherman’s knot has picked up many names, including the angler’s knot, clinch knot, halibut knot, and waterman’s knot.
Check out our step-by-step instructions on how to tie the fisherman’s knot.
2. Palomar Knot
The palomar knot is likely the strongest fishing knot for tying hook to line.
Although I personally prefer the fisherman’s knot for most applications, the palomar knot is notable for being all but impossible to “pull out” if tied correctly. It’s ideal for use on both braided and monofilament fishing lines.
The palomar knot is a bit more difficult to tie than the fisherman’s knot – but it’s still relatively easy to learn. And, once you do learn, you’ll be able to tie this fishing knot with your eyes closed!
In addition to securing line to a hook, this knot is also perfect for attaching line to a lure, snap, or swivel.
Many anglers consider the palomar knot the single best all-around knot for fishing (as long as it’s tied correctly, of course).
Use our detailed instructions to learn how to tie the palomar knot.
3. Eugene Bend
The Eugene bend is my favorite fishing knot to use with monofilament line.
As a hitch knot, it’s ideal for attaching tackle to your fishing line. It’s most notable for its strength, no matter the type of line (monofilament, fluorocarbon, or braided).
Something unique about the Eugene bend is the “pop” that the knot creates when it’s tied correctly.
Sometimes you’ll actually here a soft audible pop when it’s pulled tightly, but, more commonly, you’ll feel a “popping” or “clicking” sensation.
The Eugene bend is also known as the Pitzen knot. It has countless uses for fishing, although I tend to use it most often for fly fishing.
4. Surgeon’s Knot
There are a lot of great knots for tying two lines together – but the surgeon’s knot is hands down the most effective for fishing line.
While you can use it with two similarly sized lengths of fishing lines, it really shines when you need a secure attachment between two separate lengths of differently sized lines.
Better yet, the surgeon’s knot is super quick and easy to tie.
This is the type of fishing knot you’ll learn quickly and use often in the field. It takes just a few seconds to tie once you learn how.
I regularly use the surgeon’s knot for fly fishing. Because it adds an additional turn on the reef knot (from which it’s formed), it’s a particularly good knot for creating tension.
We’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to tie the surgeon’s knot.
5. Uni Knot
The uni knot is a simple, versatile fishing knot that’s great for attaching monofilament to a hook, although I most commonly use it for attaching line to my fishing reel.
What I love about this knot is that it works just as well at retaining fishing line breaking strength for whatever type of fishing line you’re using – whether that’s monofilament, fluorocarbon, or braided line.
The double uni knot (discussed in greater detail below) is a variation of this knot to add even more strength to the knot.
In addition to its many uses for fishing itself, the uni knot is also a great maritime knot or boat knot to know to secure your boat to the dock.
Although you’ll rarely hear this knot go by a different name, folks from the United Kingdom sometimes call it the Duncan knot or grinner knot.
Learn how to tie the uni knot.
6. Haywire Twist
I don’t use the haywire twist all that often, but it’s certainly a great fishing knot to know, especially if you’re a fan of offshore sportfishing.
What makes the haywire twist so popular for big-game fishing?
Well, not only is this fishing knot extremely strong, but it’s also perfectly suited for saltwater wire leaders (which is a must when fishing for tuna, marlin, bluefish, and other saltwater behemoths).
Use the haywire twist for joining a hook, lure, or swivel to wire when searching for fish with sharp teeth that will bite through traditional fishing line with ease.
Pliers can help you tighten this knot until it’s secure. Although a specialized haywire twist tool is available, it really doesn’t accomplish anything that pliers can’t.
Use our guide to tying the haywire twist to learn how to tie this popular blue-water fishing knot.
7. Snell Knot
Strong and reliable, the snell knot is a great option for tying an eyed fishing hook to fishing line.
But, because there are so many other great knots for attaching line to a hook out there, it can seem a little pointless to learn the snell knot.
The main benefit of this knot, over others, is that it creates a very secure knot that also provide an even, straight-line pull.
With that in mind, most anglers use the snell knot to attach an eyed hook to the leader instead of directly onto the main fishing line.
Pre-snelled fishing hooks are available. They make swapping out hooks a breeze, although they’re typically not as strong as a snell knot you’d tie onto a hook yourself.
Here, we show you exactly how to tie the snell knot for fishing.
8. Trilene Knot
Yet another fishing knot every angler needs to know, the trilene knot is notable for its wide range of applications.
This multi-purpose fishing knot is perfect for attaching monofilament line to hooks, lures, and swivels because it resists failures and slips, even under heavy stress.
In addition to its versatility, this fishing knot is known for its strength. The knot itself rarely breaks or comes apart. Instead, the fishing line itself is what breaks.
The trilene knot is named after the fishing line manufacturer of the same name. Anglers associated with the brand helped develop it during the 1970s.
The trilene knot is sometimes called the two turn clinch knot.
Learn how to tie the trilene knot thanks to our detailed guide.
9. Double Uni Knot
The double uni knot is a staple fisherman’s knot thanks to its ability to join two fishing lines of differing sizes together while retaining the original strength of both lines.
Sure, there are a lot of other knots that accomplish much the same thing, but few, if any, are quicker or easier to tie than the double uni knot.
And, if you’re like me, the easier a knot is to tie, the better. The point of going out fishing isn’t to spend time fiddling with a difficult to tie knot!
The double uni knot has countless uses, although it’s most commonly used for saltwater anglers going after gamefish thanks to its strength and reliability.
Perhaps the best application of the double uni knot is for tying braided line to a fluorocarbon or monofilament leader.
Here’s our guide to tying the double uni knot for fishing.
10. Other Great Fishing Knots to Know
The 9 fishing knots outlined above are the best of the best, but here are a few more useful knots every angler should know:
- Carrick Bend – Also known as the fisherman’s bend, the carrick bend is another useful fishing knot for securely joining two lines of different sizes.
- Highwayman’s Hitch – The highwayman’s hitch (also known as the fisherman’s hitch) is a quick-release knot that’s perfect to tie up a boat for anglers that commonly fish from a watercraft.
- Barrel Knot – The barrel knot is a versatile knot that can be used on its own for fishing, but it also used as a beginning step when tying a blood knot.
- Blood Knot – Another favorite among anglers, the blood knot is great for tying together two fishing lines of different sizes, such as a tippet to a leader.
Remember that the angling knots I’ve outlined today are just the tip of the iceberg – there are dozens of others that work well for fishing, although their applications are often more limited.
Remember to Pick the Right Knot for the Job
Every angler has their own favorite fishing knot that they use more frequently than any other knot.
Personally, I find myself using the aptly named fisherman’s knot (also called the angler’s knot) much more than all of the rest.
Although it’s beneficial to know a handful of commonly used fishing knots by heart (if not all ten on our list), it’s essential you can tie at least one strong, effective knot (think the fisherman’s, palomar, or uni knot) with your eyes closed.
Not only will this make a day spent fishing on the lake all the more enjoyable, but it’s an absolute must if you’re learning how to fish to prepare for a survival situation.
With this in mind, it’s important to select the right knot for the job when possible. As mentioned above, each fishing knot has its own best uses – such as joining lines together, attaching a hook or swivel, and attaching a lure.
Learn More About Survival Fishing
Learning how to tie the best fishing knot for each situation is only one aspect of successfully catching fish.
Here at Survival World, we’re putting together extensive resources on everything you need to know about survival fishing, including detailed gear guides like the best knives for fishing and species specific fishing guides like trout fishing 101.
Check out all of our survival fishing resources and make sure to check back often for our latest fishing posts!