It's Knot Time To Go Back To School

A Part of the What's Biting Series

With the kids back in school, I thought this was also a good time for all of us fishermen to knot go back to school! Knots are like air conditioners in the South, you only notice them when they don't work.

I am allergic to fire ants, but I am not sure which I fear more, the immediate stinging feeling from the bite or losing a fish and seeing the end of the line with dreaded knots curls in it. Eventually, you can get over the fire ant bite; a lost fish can stay with you a lifetime.

There is no shortage of knots to be learned. The internet is a great resource with videos and step by step instructions. But, when it comes to anything fishing nothing beats local knowledge. There may not be anyone who has caught more big fish or tied more knots in Orange Beach than Captain Bill Staff of the charter boat Sea Spray at Orange Beach Marina. I asked if Captain Bill if he would recommend a couple of knots that we all should know before heading offshore.

"The Palomar Knot is one of the strongest knots you can tie. It is also easy to learn and a knot can be tied very quickly," said Staff. "It's a universal knot that everyone should learn. It maintains it's strength with monofilament, fluorocarbon and braided lines." The Palomar knot is simply hard to beat when making a connection between your line and a lure or hook.

Captain Staff also recommends we learn the Albright Knot for attaching two different diameter lines together. Again simplicity and strength are the key factors according to Staff who specializes in catching big Yellowfin Tuna on his 65' locally built Resmondo. "The Albright Knot is how we connect our fluorocarbon leaders to the mainline. Sometimes the leader is much smaller in diameter than the mainline and we must have a knot that we can trust to hold that connection with a big tuna on the other end.” Many offshore fishermen like to spool their big game reels with braid backing. This allows the reels to be respooled with only a ‘top shot' of monofilament as opposed to replacing anywhere from five hundred to nearly one thousand yards of line on each reel. The Albright Knot can also be used to attach the braid backing to the monofilament top shot.

Staff also says even though both the Palomar and Albright Knots can be tied quickly, it is important to take the proper time needed to ensure every knot is tied correctly. "Take an extra second or two or as much time as you need to make sure the knot looks and feels right and test it. The lack of detail to carefully placed loops and lack of lubrication (old fashion spit) will cause a knot to fail.”

There are many ways to lose fish, especially big fish. And sometimes the fish just wins the battle. Knot failure to me is without a doubt the worst way to lose a fish because it is almost entirely preventable with an appropriately selected and executed knot. This makes me certain that I would much rather step in an entire bed of fire ants that have a knot I tied fail while on the boat with a local legend like Captain Bill Staff!


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Jim Cox
Jim Cox (1323 Posts)
Jim Cox is an avid inshore, offshore, and big game fisherman. He has twice qualified for the prestigious IGFA Offshore Championships in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He is the past president of the Mobile…