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How to Tie Fly Fishing Knots

In fly fishing, as in all fishing, the knot the fisherman uses is crucial to success, as many of us have learned to our cost. It is important to get our fishing knots right, in securing our backing line to the reel; in connecting our backing line to the fly line; in joining our fly line to our leader; and in tying on our fly. A number of fly fishing knots are illustrated below. These are the fishing knots I use in my trout, salmon and sea trout fly fishing. They include popular knots like the perfection loop knot and water knot as well as one or two new fishing knots like Gray's Loop, a neat and simple method of attaching a leader loop to the end of a fly line.

Practical Fly Fishing Knots

Tying Fly Fishing Knots

The diagram above illustrate the following knots:

1 Reel Knot  - for tying the backing line to the reel

2 Constriction Knot  - for joining the backing (or nylon leader) to the fly line

3 Gray's Loop  - attaching a nylon monofilament loop to the end of a fly line

4 Loop to Loop - a simple way of connecting leader and fly line

5 Perfection loop - a reliable leader loop

6 Water Knot - a simple and effective dropper knot

7 Slip Knot - a simple knot for tying a hook or fly to a nylon leader


This is a simple and reliable knot which can be used to secure backing line to the reel. For added security, take the backing round the reel drum twice before tying the knot. After pulling the slip knot tight, trim the loose end but not too close to the knot.

The Reel Knot


This is a simple method of attaching most types of backing line - nylon monofilament, dacron, braided terylene or twisted nylon - to a traditional type of fly line i.e. a PVC coated, terylene core fly line. It should not be used with hollow braided nylon backing line, nor is it suitable for some modern lines with multistrand or monofilament cores.

1  Overlap the fly line and backing line by around 12 inches.

2  Take the end of the backing line and fold it over itself and the fly line to form a loop and grip the point of overlap (A) firmly between the thumb and forefinger of the right hand.

3  Bring the end of the backing through the loop half a dozen times times.

4  Carefully draw the turns together while sliding the whole knot towards the tip of the fly line. With the turns of the knot touching, pull steadily on both ends of the backing until the knot grips the fly line tightly. Check the security of the knot by pulling the backing and fly line firmly in opposite directions. When satisfied, trim the ends closely.

This knot can also be used to tie a nylon leader directly to the end of a braided core fly line.

Constiction Knot - Step One

Constiction Knot - Step Two

Constiction Knot - Step Three

Constiction Knot


A reliable leader loop which lies in line with the leader. The loose end can be trimmed very close to the knot. Not as difficult as it seems at first sight.

Use the thumb and forefinger of the left hand to grip the knot while manipulating the loop with the right hand.

The Perfection Loop - Step One

The Perfection Loop - Step Two

The Perfection Loop - Step Three

The Perfection Loop


I have used this knot for many years as an alternative to the half - blood knot. It is similar to the Grinner knot. moisten and tighten the knot well and don't trim too close to the hook.

Fly fishing knots - slip knot

Book - Sea Trout Nights 


Gray's Loop is a version of the Constriction knot used to attach a semi-permanent loop of nylon monofilament to the end of a traditional PVC coated, terylene core flyline. This nylon loop facilitates a loop to loop connection with the fly leader. Such a loop might last a whole season before needing replaced.

Quick Grays Loop

Follow the same procedure as for the Constriction knot, but with a doubled length of monofilament nylon. Starting with a length of about 18 inches [half a metre] of nylon makes it easier to pull the knot tight. Also start with as small a loop as possible, held between the right thumb and forefinger [figure 1], if you want to create a small loop [although a loop of anything up to around three inches long works fine]. Use a minimum of three turns. Carefully draw the knot together while sliding the whole knot towards the end of the fly line. With the turns of the knot touching, pull steadily on both ends until the knot grips the fly line tightly. Check the security of the knot by pulling steadily with a finger in the loop. When satisfied, trim the ends closely.

Grays Loop Fly Line Leader Loop - Step One

Grays Loop Fly Line Leader Loop - Step 2

Grays Loop Fly Line Leader Loop - Step Three

Grays Loop Fly Line Leader Loop

The strength of the nylon will vary with the weight of fly line and breaking strain of leader. As a guide I use the following :



LEADER  b.s. lbs

LOOP  b.s.

3 - 5  10 lbs
6 4 - 6  12 lbs
7 6 - 8  12 lbs
8 8 - 12  15 lbs
9 10 - 12  15 lbs
10 12 - 15  18 lbs

1 kilogram  =  2.2 lbs

For a neater and even more secure version of Gray's Loop, the knot may be tied using a needle, as in the Needle Knot . For full illustrated instructions on the tying method, see Fly Fishing Knots


A simple and effective method of attaching a leader to the fly line, avoiding the wear and tear on the butt loop which might result from the repeated tying of knots.

Loop to Loop Fishing Knot



A good dropper knot. Stronger, more reliable and easier to tie than the blood knot. Although the typical advice is for three turns, I often use only two turns and the resultant knot seems quite reliable. Note that the length used for the dropper should be the one pointing away from the reel.

1  With the "reel end" to your right, cut the leader at the point where the dropper is required and overlap the ends by about 10 inches, depending on the length of dropper .

2  Form an overhand loop with the doubled nylon and grip firmly at point "A" with the right thumb and forefinger.

3  With the left hand, pull the dropper length along with the whole lower section of the leader through the loop at least twice.

4  Moisten, draw tight and trim the end which points towards the reel.


The Water Knot - Step One

The Water Knot - Step Two

The Water Knot - Step Three

The Water Knot - Step Four





Trout and Salmon Fishing