Bruce Ajari: Learn your knots |

Bruce Ajari: Learn your knots

Fishermen use different knots when it comes to fishing, but fly fishermen tend to use quite a few more to practice their sport. The reason is that fly fishermen often tie their own leader that must be fashioned so it turns the fly over, since there is no weight on the end that carries the bait or lure to the target.

When I first took the leap into salt water fly fishing, I was confused by much of the terminology when it came to leaders. There are rules set by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) regarding the leaders to classify a fish for a world record.

Knots such as the Bimini, Huffnagle, Spyder hitch, Arbor knot and nail knot, just the name a few, were used to connect the three components of the leader together.

The confusing part was that there was a shock tippet, class tippet and butt section. The butt section was pretty easy since it was the first part that attached to the fly line.

The confusing part were the other two components. Shock tippets are the part of the leader that connects directly to the fly. These are usually made of a much heavier material of hard monofilament or fluorocarbon.

The class tippet is the actual line class that someone is using when shooting for a world record. For example, if they were seeking a world record in the 20-line class, this material would be the 20-pound line.

As you can see, this does not taper down like most leaders we use for trout. This is what is confusing to many when they enter the salt water arena.

As I said above, these are rules set by the IGFA for anglers to qualify for world records in a particular line class. If you are going for a world record in salt water, you should try to conform. For all the rest of us, you can simplify things and have a good time fishing!

Most fly anglers will use a straight section of 40-, 60- or 80-pound fluorocarbon for their leaders. They can be as short as 4 to 6 feet. I still use a leader that is around 9 feet for all my fishing.

It is not a bad idea to learn some of the above knots. They assist you in not breaking off as many fish. The Bimini is one such knot.

If you are getting into fly fishing in salt water, I would suggest picking up a good book on knot-tying or go to the Internet and check out the following Web sites that will help you learn to tie these knots immensely.

The first one is located at There, you will learn about salt water leader construction. At knots.htm, you will find a section on knots.

Another site,, is one that will actually give you online video lessons to learn the knots. It is a great tool.

Practice these knots in the winter and you will be an expert before too long ” and you can amaze your friends. Check it out.

– Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.

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