Knowing how to tie a good knot is one of the most important skills you can learn as a fisherman. A poorly tied knot guarantees losing any big fish you hook, even a strong knot can be the weakest link between the fish and you. But, before you learn how to master knots, you have to know the difference between lines.
Are inexpensive, easy to cast and can be used in both spinning and bait-casting. The only drawback is the high stretch factor. There are many different types and colors of mono line but most are near-invisible in water.
Plastic worm and jig bait fishermen detect strikes by watching for a line twitch. They will favor fluorescent mono when fishing in discolored water but will go to a clear or green mono in clear water. Anglers fishing in rocky bottoms prefer abrasion-resistant mono while live-bait fishers use thin, flexible mono for a natural presentation.
When buying your mono, do not buy cheap, off-brand mono. Off-brand mono weakens quickly, may have many thin spots and tends to be very kinky.
The biggest advantage to braided lines is they have little stretch so they work wonderfully for telegraphing bites and getting strong hook-sets. These lines are three to four times as strong as a mono of equal diameter.
Nylon and Dacron lines are used mainly on bait-casting reels and for backing on fly reels because of their thick diameter. Modern braided lines will also work well with spinning gear because of their thin diameter and strength.
Braided wire and single stranded lines are used mainly for deep trolling or jigging. They have no stretch but will kink easily. To reduce kinkiness, some braided wire lines are coated in plastic. Wire lines can also be used to make leaders for toothy gamefish like pike and northern muskies.
Lead-core lines are the most flexible wire lines and are used for deep trolling. Their think diameter requires a large reel and they are usually color coded so you can monitor your fishing depth easily.
Come in many different types. Level lines have the same diameter along their entire length. They are inexpensive but harder to cast. Double-taper lines have a level middle section and gradually taper at each end. They allow for a delicate presentation and can be reversed when one end wears out. Weight forward lines have a thick short belly behind a tapered front end. The rear end portion is called a running line and is tapered to a long thin section. The up front weight of this line makes it easier to make longer casts and punch through strong winds. Shooting head lines are very similar to weight forward lines but the running line section is usually monofilament. These lines will cast further then other lines.
Fly lines mostly float but full sinking or sink-tip types are available. All shooting head lines will sink no matter what. Designations for line weight range from 1 (lightest) to 12 (heaviest). To get the best casting performance, attach the proper line to the weight designation of the rod.
One tip to always keep in mind: your line is only as strong as the knots you use to tie it. Any knot will weaken the line to some degree; some will cut the line strength in half. Try to avoid using knots that will put sharp bends in your line because those bends may fracture under stress.
You will need to learn more knots with the more kinds of fishing you do. For instance, fly fishers will use different kinds of knots than spin fisherman. Saltwater anglers will also use different knots then other fishers. Some knots that work well with a mono line would be a poor choice with super-lines.
Dozens of knots have been devised for different fishing purposes but some are so difficult that you might need a manual in the boat just to tie them. Tying good knots will save you from losing several fish and several dollars worth of lures. Here are a few quick tips for knot-tying:
• Pick knots that are easy to tie. Even the strongest knots will fail if you haven’t tied them properly.
• Any knot will weaken with use. Tie new knots before every trip and remember to re-tie knots throughout the day.
• Moisten knots before snugging it up. Friction and abrasion are reduced if the knot is moistened just before it is pulled tight.
• Do not be timid about testing your knots and snug them with a strong, smooth pull. It is better that the line breaks on shore then when you’re reeling in the big one.
• Leave some line when clipping the tag end. Sometimes a knot will slip slightly just before they break and a little extra line provides good insurance.
The next two articles will give you instructions on how to tie the best knots for different situations.