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Nail Knot

The Nail knot is a quick way to tie two materials together. It is most often used in angling to secure fishing lines, especially ones of varying diameters. Its name comes from the original use of a nail as a guide; these days, a straw is more commonly used. 

The Nail knot is used in angling because it is highly secure and can be used to connect lines so that they diminish as they move toward the fly. It is one of the most popular knots in angling and is one of the 10 knots in the Fisherman’s Ultimate Knot Guide.

How To Tie a Nail Knot

To tie a nail knot, you will need two pieces of material (the twine, fly line, or other material you are connecting) and a small piece of a cut plastic straw. Alternatively, you can use any sticklike object, such as a coffee stirrer or nail. However, if you use an object that is not hollow, you may need a needle to pull the string through more easily. 

1. Start With Two Pieces Facing Each Other

Nail Knot 1

Position two pieces of string, twine, fishing line, or other material with the ends facing one another, reaching from opposite directions. 

2. Cross The Two Sides

Nail Knot 2

Pull the two strings through one another so that the right one crosses over the left one. Then pull it so that it hangs down below the other string. 

3. Position a Straw Or Nail Below The Strings

Nail Knot 3

Take your straw, nail, or other guide and position it below the two strings. 

4. Pull The String Down And Around The Straw

Nail Knot 4

Using the straw as an anchor, wrap the left string down and around it. It should cross in front of the straw, then go behind the other string. 

5. Repeat This Step Five Times

Nail Knot 5

Continue coiling the string around the straw until you have five complete loops. 

6. Double The String Back Through The Straw And Remove

Pull the string so that it doubles back through the center of the straw, then remove the straw from the end of the string. Pull from both sides simultaneously to tighten and complete the knot. If you are using a nail instead of a straw, you may need to use a needle to guide the string back through the center of the loops. 

Tips On Tying The Nail Knot

The biggest tip for tying the nail knot is to use a sewing needle if you are using a non-hollow object as a guide. Otherwise, it can be extremely difficult to thread through the coils with just your fingers.

For a more in-depth tutorial and additional information on the Nail knot, check out our video!

Variations On The Nail Knot

A variation of the Nail knot is the Double Nail knot. This alternative, as the name implies, uses two separate Nail knots for reinforcement and extra security on your fishing line. 

Advantages Of The Nail Knot

There are many advantages of the Nail knot. It grew popular because it is extremely secure and versatile. It results in a knot that slips through guides on a fishing line without difficulty, since it is extremely compact. 

The Nail knot is also not prone to slippage or hinging, which is extremely important in angling. It does not hold much water, which means it does not spray heavily. It can also be used on a wide variety of materials, including fluorocarbon. 

Disadvantages Of The Nail Knot

As with every knot, there are a few disadvantages to the Nail knot. It is extremely compact, which is an advantage while angling but also means it is hard to untie. This can become especially inconvenient if you need to switch out your leader — especially if the light is low. 

Another distinct disadvantage comes when trying to reel in a fish. During this time, the Nail knot may get tangled in the top guide of your line, which can cause it to snag. 

History Of The Nail Knot

Not much is known about the history of the Nail knot, aside from the origin of its name. When fishermen first began to use the knot, they used the materials they had available as guides — such as nails, which were readily available on boats. 

Uses For The Nail Knot

Despite the Nail knot’s versatility in angling, it has virtually no uses outside the world of fishing. But for fishing enthusiasts, this knot is a must-have for your arsenal purely because it has so many uses and can be used on so many materials. However, you are unlikely to need this specific knot on land. 

Survival Situations

The Nail knot is largely used in angling, so it is not specified for use in survival situations. But because it can be used to catch fish, it may be useful in getting food while in the wilderness. 

It has also found a small niche in the world of climbing. Here, it is used to connect climbing rope to a pulley or as a temporary replacement when setting up a climbing system. 


The Nail knot was developed for use in angling, as it is excellent for joining two materials together. Its versatility, easy use with materials of different sizes, and security make it ideal for use in:

  • Connecting monofilament or braided fishing lines
  • Carp angling 
  • Fly fishing 
  • Connecting a fly line to a hook or swivel
  • Splicing leaders and braids 
  • Stopping bobbers 


There are no specific uses for the Nail knot in hunting, as it was developed for fishing. 


The Nail knot is not widely used in camping situations. 

Around The House/Other

The Nail knot is not widely known for specified uses in other capacities other than angling. 

Related Knots

There are many similar knots to the Nail knot. These vary slightly based on their use and the materials for which they are suited. These may be for materials of equal diameter or of different strengths. 

Related knots include: the Double Uni knot, the Albright knot(also known as the Albright Special), the Blood knot, and the Surgeon’s knot.

How To Tie a Nail Knot Illustration:

The Nail Knot is the best knot for joining the end of a fly line with the puff end of a fly leader. The knot is smooth, streamlined, and will run freely through the guides of the fly rod. Caution: This knot is designed for use with the modern synthetic fly lines; do not use it with an old silk fly line, because the knot will cut the line.

Place the end of the fly line and the butt end of the leader – pointing in opposite directions – along the length of a tapered nail. Allow sufficient overlap.Nail Knot Step 1
Wrap the leader five or six times around itself, the nail, and the fly line, keeping windings up against one another. Run the butt end of the leader back along the nail, inside the wraps.Nail Knot Step 2
Pull both ends of the leader tight, and then remove the nail and tighten again by pulling on both ends of the leader.Nail Knot Step 3
Pull on both the line and the leader to test the knot, and clip off the ends, completing the knot.Nail Knot Step 4