In this final instalment preceding a trip to Alphonse and St Francois atolls in the Seychelles, I’d like to elaborate on my thoughts about suitable knots for fishing tropical flats. Although I’ve been tying nylon to hooks for a very long time now and have my personal preferences to the type of knot I use for the different types of fishing I do (from 6X tippet for trout, to 1.2 mm fluorocarbon for large saltwater fish), I must admit that my knowledge in terms of efficient knots in saltwater fly fishing is expanding by the year. The lack of experience is especially in using thick lines (> 1.0 mm) to stop big fish from reaching reef or from wearing through the line during the fight.
For general saltwater fly fishing (for line with a 4.5 kg to 13.5 kg breaking strain – 15 lb to 30 lb) I use the Lefty Kreh loop knot – this was the first recommended knot, by friends with experience and also in the literature. This knot is one of the few that is supposed to retain a high percentage in line strength, as knots create weak spots in the line. Fred Davis wrote an article about loop knots a while ago and the tying sequence of the Lefty Kreh can be seen in that post.
Lefty Kreh loop knot:
I use this knot when fishing streamer patterns in freshwater and for any saltwater application in the line class mentioned above. However, Ray Montoya pointed out that loop knots, although strong, frequently fail due to abrasion caused by the line sliding back and forth in the hook eye. He’s seen many a big fish lost like that and recommended a different type of knot that he picked up in his travels through Central America.
‘Ray Montoya’ knot:
Ray’s caught some serious fish, including 70 kg (156 lb) yellowfin tuna, on this knot and swears by its strength on thin and thick line (from 7X to 1.0 mm and heavier tippet). A Mexican hand-line fisherman showed him how to tie the knot and although it is similar to the ‘Uni’ knot, it is tied differently. I will most certainly be trying this knot in the Seychelles. It is tiny, neat and very simple to tie. Thank you Ray!
Lastly, for the big stuff there is the Homer Rhode knot. It was a knot that Nicola Vitali spoke of at the end of my trip to the Red Sea and it is also something Francois Botha ‘stumbled’ upon while playing with knots in his bedroom (I guess ‘she’ couldn’t break that one…). Ray and Chris Bladen also recommended this knot for thicker lines. Ray uses this knot when fishing poppers, because it helps with the presentation of the fly. It is snugger than the Lefty Kreh, for instance, and also much stronger and less of a hassle than the perfection loop – not that strength matters at 180 lb breaking strain, right?
Homer Rhode loop knot:
I had the non-slip loop break while fishing with Ray this summer (shameful), but it’s still my knot of choice on bonefish tackle. If you target triggers it’s much better to use a solid knot to help set the hook. My fav knot for heavy leader is a double figure 8 knot. Just my 2 cents
The knot Ray is using is in technical essence a 3-turn knail knot, it’s the same knot that the Eastern Knyp rock and surf okes call a figure-8, but which is not the true figure-8 knot in knot nomenclature. It’s a very good knot in many filament types. It can in fact be combined with an overhand knot to form a very strong loop knot too.