The connections I have made over the last decade have made me feel unbelievably fortunate. To elaborate a bit, I have been able to share the water with folks who have done all sorts of great things. Climb Kilimanjaro, fish Tiger Fish in Africa, Played in the NFL, US Special Forces, business owners of all kinds… Business, Travel, Summits, Sport, Entertainment, you name it. I have been able to connect with some of the worlds most interesting people on the water. It’s one of the things I love about my job. I get to share it with all of you. Also, I get a brief glimpse into the life, careers, families, and passions. While you may be the one on the trip, I am a brief tourist in your lives as well.
Other than the connections I make on the water, tying your tippet to the leader, I am fortunate to continue that relationship off the water. I get calls from clients at least once a week “I want to catch a tarpon, can you help me out?” “I’m headed to Belize for permit, what do I need to bring?”
Where to go, who to book, and how to prepare. Whether it be casting lessons prior to the trip, or how to outfit yourself for success. But most of all, how to put it all together. How does your backing connect to the spool? How do you connect your backing to the fly line? Leader to line? Line to tippet? Tippet to fly? How the hell does all this work together in order to hold onto a 100+lb fish?
Connections are the name of the game in Fly Fishing. Without the right connections, your fish will swim away with your fly, leader, line, or just break everything and swim away with half your rod.
So lets start this thing off! We will start with the backing to reel and work our way right down to the fly.
Connecting Backing To The Reel
This is a pretty beyond simple knot… In fact it is so simple that when Mike Lawson first showed me I didn’t really get it. There are a few ways to make this connection, however, this is the most straight forward connection available.
Loop To Loop
This is the fast, strong and simple way to get two loops to join into one. Backing to fly line, line to leader, and leader to leader making a solid connection.
Simon was the coolest guy I have ever talked to… Right up until he called Dancing Queen a “great hit”…
“I don’t have a loop in the back of my fly line! What do I do?! I don’t have tools, or line welding knowledge!” First, don’t panic. The Albright Knot will take care of you. This is a great knot for most backing to fly line applications. Particularly for anything involving trout, salmon, steelhead… Back to you Simon.
Tie Fast Nail Knot
“Justin, the fly shop sold me this crazy tool because I broke the loop off my favorite floating line battling barnacles at Purdy Spit. I went to the one with bad customer service so they didn’t show me how to use it!” No worries my fluff chucking friend. Zack has you covered here… I will say this before we get to the video. I do not think this is the BEST way to attach a leader to a new fly line. Use the loop to loop connection in that case. They are strong, quick, and I really like them. However, if you are battling kangaroos in the outback and they bite the loop off your fly line, this will keep you in the game. Go buy one of these tools, learn how to use it, and toss it in your pack.
There are a lot of reasons to know loop knots. One, you can skip the last few knots we learned (you should know them anyways) if you know how to tie them up and how to use them. The first loop we will learn is the Perfection Loop. This is the handy loop in the end of every prepackaged Rio Leader. This is a great loop to know for doing a “loop to loop” connection to your fly line.
The next loop we will learn is the Double Surgeons knot. This knot can be used for the same thing as the perfection knot, attaching leader to fly line, or backing to fly line. This is not as strong as the Perfection Loop or the Bimini Loop, however its quick and easy if that break strength is not as important.
Leader To Tippet
I am going to go ahead and say it right off the bat. There is two knots I use almost 100% of the time for trout, salmon and steelhead. First,The Blood Knot, 98% of the time. This is the best knot for attaching MOST leader to tippet situations. If you suck at the Blood Knot and you are going to tie a crummy one. The Double Surgeon is a good alternative. I will occasionally use a Double Surgeons Knot if I can not see (fishing at night) or in the freezing rain (hands are not working). However, thats fairly rare.
Additionally, I use the Improved Blood Knot for tying two pieces of tippet with a big jump in size. Zack actually was the one who showed me that knot, and I have appreciated it greatly over “I hope that stays.” This knot works great for in a pinch when you hit the end of your spool of tippet.
Fly To Tippet
Finally! How do we put our stabbers on the fishing string? Well, there are obviously 4,000 different knots for this. I am going to go over my two favorite ways. First, the Non Slip Mono Loop. This is our go too for Sea Run Cutthroat, and most weighted or baitfish flies. I want to get the most out of my fly, and this allows it to swim naturally and move freely in the water.
Back to you Simon!
Now, When we are up in the mountains and using dries and nymphs mostly we need a knot that is small, strong and secure to the hook. That’s where the Improved Clinch Knot comes into our arsenal. Here’s Zack to finish this thing out!
Let’s Wrap This Up
Fly Fishing is all about the connections we make. With the environment, the fish, the guides, and even the equipment. If we miss our connections we can spend all the money in the world on booking world class trips, $1000 fly rods, and the best accommodations the world has to offer. But we will miss the opportunity to truly be in the game.
Thanks Simon and Zack for unknowingly being our star actors for this fish story. Thank you Rio Products for your wonderful library of You Tube videos as well!