April 1st, 2002

Bad Knots
By James Castwell

It seems like a waste to write a whole column on such a simple subject, but how often has this happened to you? You tie on the fly and start fishing. You are careful, you know which knots to use and how to tie them properly. Yet, after some time spent casting, you eventually catch a fish, only to have it break off on the strike or during the fight. If this has not happened either you do not fly fish, or have a far better relationship with some deity of which I am unaware. It surely has happened to me, at least it used to, but not any more.

The problem was most prevalent, and I will admit annoying, when I was fishing for Silver salmon out here on the west coast of Washington state. They hit like an midnight freight train and offer a particularly nasty tussle soon thereafter. These are not only, "the time which try mens souls," but his rod, reel, line, leader, tippet and particularly, his knots. The tell-tale 'pig-tail' on the end of your leader, or tippet is the evidence of a knot which has slipped. How could this have happened; again?

I am sure we all agree that to tie a knot in mono or fluoro, we should wet it and then pull in one strong, smooth motion until it is tight. Right, no changes in that. You do it, so do I. Here is what I have found that will keep the knot from slipping while fishing. I have a whole list of reasons why it works, but I have absolutely no proof, so they really are only ideas, or at best, theories.

After I have made a few casts, I re-pull the knot. That's right, I bring it in, hold the fly and tug on the leader and with my fingernails, massage the knot back toward the hook eye. So far, since I have been doing this, I have not had a knot come untied.

It may be, (here we go, theory again) that the knot, when it gets either wet, and/or cold from the water, somehow changes. Perhaps shrinks, soaks up water, heck, I don't know. But, by re-tugging the knot, they don't come apart anymore and that's good enough for me. Maybe they swell a bit from friction when pulled, (smart guys claim this is a fact) and then, when they cool (shrink) they come apart, could be.

I have not seen any difference between mono and fluoro, I re-tug them all. It is just a little thing, but then again, little things mean a lot. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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