With so many uncontrollable factors when fishing, one thing I can control is my knot choice — so I try to use the most efficient knots possible to put the odds in my favor.
When I’m trying to keep my fishing line invisible, fluorocarbon is the best string to get the job done. The problem is the low knot strength of fluorocarbon, so I’m sharing my winning knots from my fluorocarbon trials — including my own knot that took the top spot.
Since I couldn’t find any accurate fluorocarbon testings with non-looped knots on the Internet, for the past year I’ve used my scale and intuition, experimenting with different knots that were supposedly the best. Nothing was giving me real world results consistently over 80 percent, leaving me very frustrated.
Subsequently, I came up with a knot that surpassed them all. Some people may have already used it, but I had never heard of it before.
I saw several professional bass fishermen doubling up the string on an unnamed knot, so I took all my basic knots and tested this doubled-over feature. Most failed delivering no added strength benefit, but one emerged the clear winner — sometimes holding over 90 percent strength.
And it wasn’t the one the bass fishermen were using — it’s the the doubled-over four-turn improved clinch knot.
I now use this knot on practically all my leader and lure-to-line applications. This knot is very simple and quick to tie, and it’s my go-to knot for any fluorocarbon up to 50-pound test.
In my own fluorocarbon knot tests, the clinch had an average breaking strength of 58 percent; the improved clinch was 65 percent; the Palomar was 70 percent, the San Diego jam was 81 percent and the uni knot was 77 percent.
These are just averages over several tests each — with the San Diego Jam delivering the most strength.
I read that by going through the hook’s eye twice from the same side, then tying a standard single string knot there would be an improvement, but I did not find this to be the case and saw little difference. For instance, the fish-n-fool knot does this with a standard uni knot, but similar strength results were obtained.
Then, there are the doubled-over line knots where the line is passed back through the hook from the opposite side before tying. This makes the knots bigger and bulkier, but is supposed to give added cushioning to prevent the fluorocarbon from cutting into itself.
Yet in my trials, both the doubled-over uni and San Diego Jam gave worse results than the single-stranded versions of each.
Bass fishing pros Shaw Grigsby and Gary Klein had YouTube videos demonstrating the doubled-over version of a knot similar to a Eugiene slip knot that they said was best and uses the most free line to tie with twists over four lines. Yet, in my dozens of tests, that knot failed at 75 to 78 percent, but sometimes held into the low 80s.
I videoed a few of my hundreds of test here. Since I need two knots for each side of the string in the test, I tied one end with the doubled-over improved clinch knot versus whichever knot I was testing. In every test, the doubled-over four-turn improved clinch knot never broke, winning all battles.
To find out its actual breaking strength I had to test it against itself. My doubled-over four-turned improved clinch knot gave 85- to 93 percent breaking strength in most tests using several different types of fluorocarbon.
The knot can potentially slip with only three turns, and adding a fifth turned weakened it. Yes, fluorocarbon is really that finicky.
In my test, the only variable was the different knot tested with a fresh piece of fluorocarbon for each test. Many people say their knot is the best, but testing it is the only way to know for sure. The 20-pound scale I use has a marker showing the exact heaviest pressure pulled. Using 20-pound test line made for easier calculations, but I tried with several different types and strengths of fluorocarbon and all knot breaking percentages were similar.
To tie the knot, simply pass the main line through the hook, and back through again from the opposite way — creating a doubled-over string leaving about 4 to 6 inches of doubled string on each side of the hook. Then, take the loop end and tie a normal four-turned improved clinch knot with it. There will be three tag ends to trim, and be sure to wet the knot before tightening it down.
When I’m fly-fishing, I sometimes have several loop knots tied in one leader as I taper down my tippet with loop-to-loop connections for quick changes in the field. Also, for jerk baits and twitch baits I love a loop knot, which gives far better action and wiggle. Knowing the best loop knot for fluorocarbon line is very important — and that award goes to the Rapala loop knot.
The Rapala loop is basically a loop knot with a three-turned improved clinch knot mixed in the back end. I experimented with many different loop knot versions and this one holds up best in my scaled tests.
Also, another website, Saltstrong.com compared all popular fluorocarbon loop knots and the Rapala loop was the clear winner.
The Rapala loop knot — which broke around 78 to 82 percent with several different fluorocarbons — practically outperformed all of the non-looped knots discussed in the first few paragraphs, except it’s nearly equal to the San Diego Jam knot. However, it does not outperform the doubled-over four-turn improved clinch knot.
With regular monofilament, I love using Palomar knots, but for loop knots with monofilament, I still use the Rapala loop knot.
For now, when I am clear-water bass fishing, green-water speckled trout fishing, offshore fishing for mangrove snappers or fly fishing, I’ll be using the doubled-over four-turn improved clinch and Rapala loop knots.
But I’m always willing to try new knots to continually search for the best ones, and there are plenty I have yet to test.