Knot: A tangle with a name.
An – as yet unfulfilled – objective of mine is to catch a 13.5-kilo (30 lb.) snapper. I have come close a few times but never actually landed the really big one. Just off the Hen and Chicken Islands, off the East coast of the North, North Island of New Zealand a couple of years ago I thought I had finally cracked it.
It was not to be. My knot failed just as the fish neared the boat.
I could clearly see the huge snapper as it just rolled its head downward – that was all. Not a hard lunge – no vicious pull – just a roll away and down. It kept on going down, slowly but purposely. I stood there watching my rod that was now straight, and saw the line lying slack in the water.
Slowly I reeled in till the line-end lifted off the water. At the end of the trace was a little curl of line where the hook had been. That little curl irrefutable evidence that my knot had failed.
No amount of yelling, “Bother, golly, gosh, and darn it” could bring that fish back. No amount of “If only” could disguise the fact that my knot simply came undone.
Undertaking a personal debrief afterwards I realised the mistakes I made.
In my excitement and rush to get my new rig into the water I hurried tying on the hook.
- I neglected to test the knot.
- I did not wipe the slime and grime of bait and fish off my hands before I tied the knot.
All these factors contributed to the lost fish.
“But why didn’t the knot come undone during the early part of the fight,” you ask?
Very often under hard-fight conditions the tension and compression on the line is enough to hold the knot from slipping. However once the tension comes off, as in this case when the fish began to drift up toward the boat, the nylon line begins to recover its original non-stretched shape. The coils and twists that formed the knot become loose and the knot just quietly slips apart.
It is my guess that more fish are lost to poorly tied knots, than from any other single factor.
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So what makes a good knot?
The Du Pont Company, the world’s largest manufacturer of fishing line, has done an enormous amount of research into knots for monofilament and other types fishing line.
As a result of this research they established a set of guidelines that they use to determine whether a knot is suitable for them to recommend for their lines. It should be noted that these guidelines are for ‘every day’ knots.
The guidelines are:
- A knot should be able to be tied by a novice with minimal practice in less than 30 seconds.
- The knot should not reduce the overall strength of the line to less than 80% of its breaking strain.
- The knot should be easy to tie in low light conditions, with wet, or slippery, hands.
So what is the best knot?
There are books full of knots, but amongst the best are the Uni knot and the cinch knot (sometimes called the blood knot). Both the Uni and the blood knots are quick and easy to tie, and both maintain overall line strength to over 85% of the lines original breaking strength.