Fly Tying Knots

Basic Advice on Tying Knots

It is important not only to select the right knot for a particular job but to tie it properly. Poorly Tied knots will mean lost fish and aggravation. Here are a few basic steps to follow when tying all knots for fly fishing.

Lubricate knots: Before you tighten a knot, lubricate it with saliva or by dipping it in the water. This will help the knot slide and seat properly. Lubrication also decreases excessive heat which dramatically weakens monofilament. Heat is generated by the friction created when knots are drawn up tight.

Seat the knot: Tighten knots with a steady, continuous pull. Make sure the knot is tight and secure. After it is tied, pull on the line and leader to make sure it holds. It is better to test it now than when a fish is on.

Trim neatly: Use nippers to trim the material as close as possible without nicking or damaging the knot.

Fly Tying Basics

Using Fly Fishing Knots

Backing to Reel:

Backing to Fly Reel Knot

Backing to Reel Knot

Backing to Fly Line:

Albright Knot or Nail Knot

Backing to Fly Line

Fly Line to Braided Leader:

Loop-to-Loop Connection

Fly Line to Braided Leader

Fly Line to Leader:

Nail Knot

Fly Line to Leader

Fly Line to Permanent Mono Loop:

Nail Knot a 6″-8″ monofilament butt section, then Loop-to-Loop Connection using Perfection Loop or Surgeon’s Loop

Fly Line to Permanent Mono Loop

Braided Leader Butt to Tippet:

Loop-to-Loop Connection using Perfection Loop on tippet or Surgeon’s Loop on tippet

Braided Leader Butt to Tippet

Hand-Tied Leader:

Barrel Knots or Surgeon’s Knots

Hand Tied Leader

Leader to Tippet:

Surgeon’s Knot or Barrel Knot

Leader to Tippet

Tippet to Fly:

(a) Clinch Knot
(b) Duncan Loop

Tippet to Fly


Knot advice, text, and diagrams are used by permission of the Orvis Company, Inc. Materials are taken from the Orvis Waterproof Vest Pocket Knot Booklet. All material Copyrighted by the Orvis Company, Inc.