The proper knots, and the care to craft them well, are often lost in the wash of each new fishing innovation. Good knots are slick works of wonder. Using the best catfish knots for the situation might be the reason you land rather than lose that monster cat. The right knot is what knotting is all about — why there are so many to choose from. It's why great anglers know and regularly use a half dozen or more.
Understanding how different lines react to knotting yields a clearer idea of the best knot for each situation. Monofilament stretches and gives, allowing line to grip itself and prevent slippage. These qualities make mono (and fluorocarbon) vulnerable to friction burns when cinching knots dry. Braided superlines neither stretch nor contract, providing a rock-solid connection, yet they're susceptible to slippage should the wrong knot be applied.
Another overlooked consideration is the number of wraps tied into knots. Too many wraps may cause excess friction, letting the line play against the knot until it breaks. Too few might mean line slippage or knot failure. It's wise to learn a few methods of joining line to line and how to snell a hook — remembering to also moisten lines before tightening knots to prevent knot damage, and to tightly cinch down each knot from both the tag and mainline ends.
Joining Lines with Different Diameters
Among a host of alternatives, two knots best known to surf casters, the Albright knot and the shock-leader knot, both provide strong connections between mainline and leader. The common scenario in saltwater involves a lighter mainline tethered to a heavy monofilament shock leader. While some catfishing situations call for a similar set-up, other instances may necessitate a thinner superbraid leader. Both of these knots work well in either case. The shock-leader knot is the easiest to tie, while the Albright may offer a slightly higher break strength.
1. Form a loop in the leader and run the mainline through the loop, parallel to the leader, giving yourself 10 inches of extra line to work with.
2. Wrap the mainline back around itself and the leader.
3. Wrap 10 turns of the mainline over the other three strands and run back through the loop.
4. Pull the tag end of the mainline tight, then pull the standing end of the mainline tight.
5. Pull standing lines of mainline and leader and cinch tight.
6. Trim close to knot.
Joining Lines of Nearly Equal Diameter
Yet another variation of the uni-knot system, the double uni-knot, connects two lines of similar or equal diameter. This knot tests at around 90 percent break strength and is one of the strongest, most reliable connections between two lines of similar diameter.
1. Place two lines together, ends running in opposite directions. Form a loop in one line.
2. Wrap the end 5 or 6 times around both lines, through the loop.
3. Tighten by pulling on the tag end.
4. Repeat the process using the second tag end.
5. Finish the knot by moistening the lines between knots, sliding both knots together, and snugging in place.
Superline to Hooks and Swivels
Line manufacturers agree that the Palomar knot is one top option for tying braided and fused superlines. Slipping the hook through a loop locks the knot in place, preventing line slippage. This knot also works with fluorocarbon lines. Moisten the line before gradually cinching knots tight.
1. Double approximately 4 inches of line and slide the loop through the eye.
2. Tie an overhand knot in the doubled standing line.
3. Slip the hook through the loop.
4. Moisten and pull both ends of the line to snug the knot in place.
This is similar to the double uni-knot, except you form just one uni'‘knot connection in the mainline, wrapped around the leader.
1. Form an overhand knot in the leader, pass the mainline through the knot, then form a 6-turn uni-knot atop the leader.
2. Snug down the overhand knot, then tighten the uni-knot against the overhand leader knot.
Forming Leader Loops for Trotlines, Juglines, and Limblines
In building rigs, catfish setliners (also rod and reel anglers) commonly employ loops at the ends of their leaders for convenience. Although the Bimini twist is a great knot for heavy duty applications, the spider hitch does big fish nearly as well, and it's much easier to tie. In a pinch, the surgeon's end loop also forms a reliable loop connection point.
1. Double the line, forming a 10- to 12-inch loop. Form a small loop in the doubled line near the base of the large loop. Pinch the small loop between your thumb and index finger.
2. Wrap the large loop around the base of the small loop 3 times.
3. Hold the tag end and the mainline secure while you pull on the large loop until snug. Clip the tag end.
Surgeon's End Loop
Surgeon's End Loop
1. Double the end of the line to form a loop. Make an overhand knot in the doubled line, tied to the desired loop size.
2. Pass the doubled line back through the loop, forming a second overhand loop.
3. Pull the doubled line and standing line in opposite directions to tighten.
Monofilament to Hooks and Swivels
The Trilene knot provides a reliable connection that tests at about 95 percent break strength. Although this knot works best with monofilament, threading the tag end back through the large loop also secures superlines.
1. Run the line end through the eye, reinsert the line back through the eye, forming a double loop.
2. Wrap the tag end around the standing line 5 to 6 times.
3. Pass the tag end through the double loop at the eye.
4. Moisten the knot, hold the tag end firm, and draw the mainline tight.
The Uni-Knot: One Fine Alternative
The uni-knot is a knot system, encompassing several variations, all of which secure different portions of your rigging. The basic uni-knot remains an excellent option for tethering mono or superline to terminal tackle.
1. Insert the tag end through the eye. Double the line and form a loop with the tag end toward the hook eye.
2. Wrap the tag end around the doubled line through the loop 6 times for light monofilament, 3 to 5 times for heavy mono, and 3 times for superlines.
3a. Grip the tag end, pulling slowly to draw the knot up semi-tight. Moisten the line, pulling gradually on the mainline to snug the knot tight against the eye.
3b. To leave a loop, grip the tag end firmly with pliers, tightening the knot down in place. This option works well with straight-eye circle hooks.
Hooks with Upturned Eyes
Snelling hooks that have upturned eyes keep hookset pressure straight in line, while providing an exceedingly strong connection. The uni-snell knot works just like the standard uni-knot, except the tag end is wrapped around the shank of the hook, as well as the doubled line. The uni-snell works well with all line types.
1. Thread the line through the hook eye, pulling through at least 6 inches. Form a loop and hold it tight against the hook shank with your thumb and finger.
2. Make 4 or 5 turns around the shank and through the circle.
3. Pull on the tag end to draw the knot almost closed, and moisten. Finish by holding the standing line in one hand, the hook in the other, and pulling in opposite directions.