Gray's Loop

Needle Tubes and Tube Flies

A fine, simple fly line leader loop

by John Gray

Grays Loop


I have never liked braided loops as a method of connecting my leader/cast to fly line. For many years, I needle knotted a short length of heavy monofilament to the end of the fly line, formed a loop on the end of this butt section, and looped my leader to it by way of a loop to loop connection. This was, in my view, finer, simpler and more secure than the kind of standard braided loop supplied ready made for connection to fly lines. Yet it still seemed to me to involve too many knots in the link between fly line and fly, each of which might cause unnecessary disturbance on the water surface. So I hit upon the idea of tying a monofilament nylon loop directly to the end of the fly line rather than on the end of the monofilament butt section, thus shortening the connection and cutting out one of the knots in the chain. For want of a more imaginative name, I called it Gray's Loop.

Gray's Loop, then, is a method of attaching a semi-permanent loop of nylon monofilament to the end of a traditional PVC coated, hollow braided core fly line to facilitate a loop to loop connection with the leader. It is simple to tie, and the resultant loop is very slim, secure and reliable. Such a loop might last a whole season before needing replaced.


The tying procedure is similar to that used for the Needle Knot or Nail Knot, but with a doubled length of monofilament nylon. The tying of Gray's Loop is illustrated in the series of photographs shown below.



Grays Loop - Fly Line Leader Loop


Carefully insert a needle ( I have used a size 7 long darner) into the centre of the end of the fly line and out the side wall of the fly line about half a centimetre from the line tip. It is important that the needle is pushed up the centre of the internal braided core of the fly line.


Tying Gray's Loop - step 2


Heat the needle with a lighter for a few seconds to set the hole made by the needle. This facilitates the threading of the nylon monofilament through the hole. 


Gray's Loop - 3


Take an eighteen inch length (half a metre) of suitable nylon monofilament, double it and thread both ends through the hole made in the fly line and out the side wall. Cutting the ends of the monofilament at a sharp angle makes it easier to thread through the hole in the fly line. See the table below for suggested line/monofilament weights.


Gray's Loop - Step 4


Pull the doubled monofilament through until you have a loop of anything up to an inch long. This will give a finished loop of around two inches. If you want a smaller loop of around an inch long, start with as small a loop as possible at this stage. A paperclip threaded onto the loop will prevent it from slipping through the end of the fly line and aid the formation of a small loop. A loop as short as one inch in length is fairly easy to achieve if desired.


Grays Loop - 5


Form a loop in the doubled monofilament and grip firmly between the thumb and forefinger of the right hand (see the main Fishing Knots page). 


Tying Gray's Loop - Step 6


Keeping a firm grip on the line and loop with the right hand, use the left hand to bring the two ends of the monofilament through the loop (and round the fly line) two or three times, any more than three making the knot more bulky.  


Grays Loop - 7


Carefully draw the knot together so that the turns of the knot are touching. Do not over-tighten at this stage. The knot must be slid along the line towards the tip before tightening fully.


Gray's Loop - 8


Slowly slide the knot towards the tip of the fly line, keeping the turns of the knot together. When you have the knot in place, with a finger of the right hand in the loop and the left hand gripping the two ends of monofilament, tighten by pulling steadily until the knot grips the fly line tightly. To test the security of the knot, grip the fly line in the left hand and, again with a finger in the loop, pull steadily in opposite directions. When satisfied, trim the ends very close to the knot. Though not essential, a coat of varnish may be applied. 

Book - Sea Trout Nights


Tying Tips

Starting with a length of about 18 inches [half a metre] of nylon makes it easier to pull the knot tight. Also, if you want to create a small loop, start with as small a loop as possible, using a paperclip on the loop to keep it from slipping though the hole in the fly line:

Tying Grays Loop

Loops of one to two inches in length are easily formed, although a loop of anything up to around three inches long works fine. The strength of the nylon loop will vary with the weight of fly line and breaking strain of leader. As a guide I use the following :

FLY LINE  # LEADER  b.s. LOOP  b.s.
3 - 5 lbs 10 lbs
6 4 - 6 lbs 12 lbs
7 6 - 8 lbs 12 lbs
8 8 - 12 lbs 15 lbs
9 10 - 12 lbs 15 lbs
10 12 - 15 lbs 18 lbs

1 kilogram  =  2.2 lbs


Gray's Loop

Grays Loop

The Completed Loop

The completed loop is fine, strong and durable.


Gray's Loop and leader

Joined by a loop-to-loop connection - the finest loop-to-loop connection I know, resulting in a minimum of surface disturbance.


This knot is not suitable for fly lines with a kevlar or monofilament core. The fly line must have a hollow braided core, as in most traditional PVC fly lines. For other useful fly fishing knots, see FLY FISHING KNOTS. These include the Perfection Loop, Water Knot and Slip Knot



A much simplified, yet serviceable, version of Grays Loop might be tied to the end of the fly line by omitting steps one to four above. Simply align the doubled length of monofilament with the end of the fly line and begin at step five, tying the loop on the end of the fly line without first threading it through the core of the fly line. Trim the end of the fly line close to the knot. I have found this to be generally secure and reliable, if not quite as neat as the needle knotted version. This simplified loop can be tied quickly on the riverbank if need be. Again this knot is only suitable for lines with a braided core.


Grays Loop simplified

click to enlarge



 Salmon Spinhead


HMH Tube Fly Tool



Grays of Kilsyth

Salmon Flies

Trout Flies

Fly Fishing Knots

Salmon Fishing Scotland

Trout Fishing Scotland

Sea Trout Fishing

Sea Trout Flies

Tube Flies

The Tube Fly Shop


 Slim stainless steel salmon and sea trout flies






needle tube fish ] The Spinhead ] The Needle Fly 2 ] Bead Tube Flies ] The Needle Fly 3 ] Grays Needle Tubes ] Needle Tube Flies ] Micro Tubes ] Tube flies ] sea trout fishing ] Linked Tube Flies ] Flug ] Endrick Sea Trout ] An August Night ] The Sea Trout Fisher ] The Muckle Saumon ] stocking ] religion ] Brown Trout or Sea Trout ] Magus fly ] sea trout decline ] sea trout river ] Memories ] needle shrimp ] fly lines ] spey cast ] spey sea trout ] hill walk ] highland river ] corrie loch ] [ grays loop ] wading stick ] Inverness fishing ] Aberlour Fishing ] Sea Trout ] Avon sea trout ] steelies ] cascade tube flies ] steelhead needle tubes ] tube fly vise ] blackback tube flies ] catch and release ] salmon fly hooks ] Spey salmon and sea trout ] needle tube fly or waddington ] fiery cascade tube fly ] black & silver tube fly ] scottish shrimp flies ] river spey photographs ] wee monkey tube flies ] Irish shrimp tube fly ] cascade step-by-step ] spring tube flies ] River Nairn ] Mallard & Silver Fly ] black & yellow tube fly ] River Dulnain ] sea trout fly ] Loch Fly ] Willie Gunn tube fly ] black & pink fly ] upside down flies ] magus shrimp fly ] dusty miller fly ] spring green tube fly ] beltra badger tube fly ] minitube flies ] snake tube flies ] summer shrimp flies ] night tube fly ] skye ] lammas shrimp fly ] salmon tingler ] salmon shrimps ] salmon fly depth ] ruddy buck tube fly ] salmon needle fly ] stoats tail ]

Trout and Salmon Fishing