Any experienced angler can tell you; that saltwater fishing uses lots of different fishing knots. The knots that connect your mainline to your hook or lure are crucial for successfully reeling in your saltwater catch, so you need to use the proper knots for the specific job.
So, How Do I Choose the Right Knot?
Several tried-and-true saltwater fishing knots are used for various lines, leaders & lures, and they will match up with the rig styles you are using.
When choosing the knot you should use, it comes down to what rig you will be using. Your rig should be based on which species of fish you are going after, determining whether your rig should sink or float.
Saltwater fishing rigs are comprised of combinations of components:
- The hook and leader line
- The line to rod
- Swivel and drop line
- Bobber and beads
Eight Saltwater Fishing Knots You Need to Know
A sleek knot with versatile use developed by legendary Keys tarpon guide Jimmy Albright, the Albright knot has many uses. It is most commonly used to attach a monofilament or fluorocarbon leader to wire or light monofilament to heavier monofilament.
Captains Tip: A haywire twist is recommended for added security when tying the Albright with single-strand wire.
Bristol Knot (aka “No-Name” Knot)
The Bristol Knot (also called No-Name Knot) provides a streamlined connection between a double line and leader that smoothly passes through the rod guides. It is highly effective for attaching a super-braid double line to a monofilament leader.
Captains Tip: The Bristol knot is also used in saltwater fly fishing as a quick way to attach leader material to a class tippet loop.
Double Uni Knot
The Double Uni Knot is used to attach a doubled mainline to a heavier-diameter leader and is known for its flexibility. This doubling technique is also used when tying other knots, such as the Blood or Double Surgeon’s.
Improved Clinch Knot (the most popular of the fishing knots)
The Improved Clinch Knot is revered as the classic of the knots primarily because of its reliability and efficiency. There are sleeker and stronger knots, but this one is considered the classic to most experienced anglers.
The Improved Clinch works well with monofilament and fluorocarbon when adequately tied, seated, and tightened. It does not test as strong as some other knots, but it ties quickly and more consistently than the other, more complex knots.
Captains Tip: Use with monofilament or fluorocarbon. This is not recommended for braided line.
This Snell knot is used to keep the hook aligned with the leader. Snell knots are ideal for circle hooks with offset eyes when using live bait. A good knot when tying on circles for larger game fish. In fact, some anglers swear by this knot when connecting on circle hooks for Big Game Fish like tarpon.
The Bimini Twist (aka the “20 times around” knot)
The only knot that maintains 100 percent strength under all conditions is used to double the line for a strong leader connection.
The Bimini Twist is the only knot that tests stronger than the line itself. As a result, the knot also acts as a shock absorber, giving slightly under sudden pressure and lessening the chance of line breaking. You can make a 20-twist Bimini, but adding more twists (up to 60) will increase shock absorption.
Captains Tip: Although generally associated with big-game leaders, this is an excellent choice for forming a double line to connect to a much larger diameter monofilament.
The Haywire Twist is the go-to connection when targeting toothy critters with single-strand wire leaders. It is versatile and can be used on either end of the leader.
Captains Tip: Avoid making contact with the sharp wire stubs when breaking off the tag ends.
The Non-Slip Loop (Loop Knot + Non-Slip Knot)
A Loop Knot allows the most movement, and the Non-Slip is the easiest to tie and is considered the best of all loops.
When appropriately tied, the tag points toward the hook and is less likely to pick up grass or other flotsam.
Captains Tip: The smaller the loop, the better.
Saltwater Fishing Knot Tools
Before you jump ahead and start practicing your knotting skills, having these simple hand tools will help make your knot tying quicker and easier:
- Fishing Pliers (for tightening & grasping line)
- Cutter or scissors
Saltwater Fishing Knot Line Tips
Captains Tip: Don’t use a wire leader if you can get by with monofilament. You will get more strikes this way. Wire also kinks easily, which may cause it to break. However, even toothy big game fish like bluefish can be caught on mono leaders as long as the material is heavy enough (50-or 60-lb test) and if you cut back the mono when it begins to get gnawed. If you must use a wire leader, skip the swivel if possible.
Captains Tip: Create storage and organization for tools that you can take with you when you head out to fish. When you have an all-in-one system with everything in one place, you create efficiencies without interrupting any valuable fishing time. You can also easily see your supplies, knots you might want to tie a few more of, etc.
Captains Tip: If you’re planning on putting your saltwater fishing knots and rigs together while you’re trolling or traveling, you’ll need some help with stability. Therefore, you need to either sit down or use a leaning post (at the helm if possible). A leaning post will provide some balance while your vessel is in motion, especially if you hit choppy waters or run into large wakes. And the added benefit of a leaning post is that you can multitask. For example, you can lean on your post and still operate your boat controls while putting together your rigs.
It is experienced anglers who combine their post and a rigging bracket to store and organize their knots and tools. By creating a system, the whole process of rigging and tying knots will be quick and efficient. You will not be wasting valuable fishing time looking around for things or getting your balance back to start your task at hand again.