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How to Tie the Snell Knot

The snell knot is used to attach a leader or tippet directly to a baited hook.

This popular fishing knot is known for its versatility. It’s effective with braided, fluorocarbon, and monofilament line. It works just as well with thin as it does with heavy line.

The snell knot was originally developed for use with eyeless fishing hooks, although today it’s still just as widely used, if not more so, with eyed hooks.

Tying this knot can be a little more difficult than tying other fishing hook knots. But, once you have it down, it’s one of those knots you can tie in seconds.

How to Tie a Snell Knot

Here’s exactly how to tie the snell knot for fishing.

Step 1

Snell Knot 1

Start by passing the line through the eye of the hook.

Create a loop and pass the working end of the line back through the eye of the hook (in the same direction as the first pass).

Step 2

Snell Knot 2

Hold both parts of the line firm along the eye of the hook. Wrap the loop around the shank of the hook roughly 7 or 8 times.

Step 3

Snell Knot 3

Pull on the standing end to tighten the knot and shrink the wraps.

Tips on Tying the Snell Knot

Neatness is key when tying the snell knot.

A great tip is to hold each wrap (when you’re wrapping the line around the shank of the hook) firmly with your fingers.

Continue to hold down these wraps as you pull the knot tight. You want to ensure the knot pulls smooth and doesn’t overlap at all.

The snell knot is one of those fishing knots that greatly benefits from a little lubrication. So add some saliva before tightening this knot to ensure it tightens smoothly.

Trim the working end of the knot close. I prefer to use nail clippers to do this.

To save yourself the trouble, it’s possible to buy pre-snelled fishing hooks. However, I prefer the reliability and consistency of snelling my own hooks rather than the store-bought product.

Best Uses for the Snell Knot

Snell Knot

The snell knot is one of those fishing knots every serious angler should learn.

Although there are plenty of other ways to attach a line to a hook, few are nearly as strong or reliable as this one.

The snell knot gets a lot of its strength from its unique design which wraps the fishing line around the hook itself.

This unique design allows the snell knot to evenly distribute friction along the whole length of the hook, knot, and line.

You can use the snell knot for pretty much any type of fishing, although it’s best suited for going after bass, catfish, and carp. It’s also great for saltwater flies.

Another way that anglers use the snell knot is for punching through heavy cover that might otherwise break a weaker knot.

Unlike other fishing knots that can be adapted for other uses, such as for camping or climbing, I don’t see the snell knot as very useful for anything outside of angling.

Pros and Cons of the Snell Knot

Here are the pros and cons of the snell knot for fishing.

Snell Knot Advantages

Here are the main benefits of the snell knot:

  • Simple – This knot is very smooth and simple which prevents snags when fishing in heavy cover.
  • Strong – Most anglers regard this as the strongest fishing knot for tying a hook to a line due to the fact that it distributes friction most evenly.  
  • Quick – This fishing knot takes just seconds to tie.

Snell Knot Disadvantages

Here are the main drawbacks of the snell knot:

  • Difficult – Although it’s simple and quick to tie once mastered, the snell knot is certainly a little trickier to learn than others. This isn’t exactly a beginner fisherman’s knot.

History of the Snell Knot

Snell Knot on eyeless hook

The snell knot was originally developed in Great Britain many years ago.

At that time, the vast majority of fishing hooks didn’t have eyes. The snell knot was specifically designed for use with these eyeless hooks. This is why it wraps around the hook shank so many times, even today.

The snell knot was soon adapted for use with eyed hooks which adds even more strength to an already strong system.

Variations of the Snell Knot

There are a handful of snell knot variations worth knowing as an avid angler.

Chief among these are the double snell knot, sliding snell knot, and improved snell knot.

Out of all of these, the improved snell knot (also known as the new snell knot) is probably most applicable to most anglers since it’s a stronger and more reliable version of the original.

Both the double snell and sliding snell are more specialized knots used when fishing with two or more hooks on a single line.

In addition to these snell knot variations, there are several variations that accomplish much the same goal of securely attaching a hook to a line.

These variations include the egg loop, uni knot, and nail knot. The palomar knot is yet another variation (it’s also my top-rated fishing knot).

Learn to Tie Other Fishing Knots

You can’t go wrong with a snell knot for attaching a baited hook directly to a leader or tippet.

With that said, there are several other great fishing knots every angler should have in their arsenal whether you’re a recreational fisherman or you’re learning this skill for survival.

We also have a wide range of other knot tying guides and survival fishing resources here at Survival World.