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At every fishing seminar, there’s invariably one person in the audience who brings a notebook and fastidiously jots down even the most minor detail of the lesson. Of particular fascination to the note-takers is my fishing tackle: Lures, rod and reel manufacturers and model numbers, braid size, color, weight, precise leader length and material, the knots I use. The apparent assumption is that identical tackle must logically produce identical results.

Unfortunately, fishing tackle and rigging is easy to duplicate but constitutes the least significant component in successfully stalking trophy fish in shallow water. The important stuff—reading the flats, proper approach, stealth, matching lures to conditions, presentation angles and depths—is more easily learned through paying attention on the water than it is in the classroom.

How to Tie a Loop Knot

The unnamed loop knot, demonstrated by Hobie Fishing columnist Jerry McBride. Use it to give your lure more action.

Posted by Hobie Fishing on Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Fish are not intelligent critters, and don’t require sophisticated tackle and rigging to fool. Anglers—particularly new or unsuccessful anglers—often attribute way too much intellectual credit to their scaly opponents. How many times have you heard the term “wily” applied to the coveted 30-inch spotted seatrout, even though it possesses a brain no bigger than a kernel of corn? When anglers lament that the fish outsmarted them again today, one can only marvel at the dedicated teachers who guided them through school.

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Take knots as an easy example of how uncomplicated fishing is. The folks at Hobie Fishing asked me to name my three favorite knots for fishing shallow grassflats. The folks at Hobie Fishing are about to get hosed.

I have one rigging rule: No extraneous hardware, which translates to no snaps, no swivels. Therefore, I need one knot for tying my mainline braid to the leader, and one for tying my lure to the leader. According to the fingers I’m holding up, that’s just two knots. Sorry Hobie, you’re only getting two-thirds of an article, because life is just too short to spend it tying Bimini twists or other time-consuming knots just to catch a fish I’m going to release anyway. If you’re so inclined, the Internet provides easy access to learning dozens of knots, but an angler’s success is exponentially more correlated to the ability to find and feed fish properly than it is to how many knots one can tie.

Being about as old school as you can get, I still use a knot developed many years ago by a great fisherman, prolific outdoor writer and true gentleman with a wicked sense of humor—Vic Dunaway. I initially edited Vic’s classic “Baits, Rigs & Tackle” so long ago that braid and fluorocarbon had yet to reach tackle boxes. Vic’s simple double-uni line-to-line knot was developed to tie monofilament mainline to a mono leader. As long as both lengths were reasonably close in diameter (for instance, 10-pound main to 30-pound leader), three wraps on the mono and three wraps on the leader end created a dependable knot. The uni-knot is both quick and reliable, the two attributes I demand.

Of course, times change. I haven’t used mono on my inshore reels for 20 years. I wouldn’t know how to fish without low-stretch braid anymore. However, 10-pound braid is equivalent to 2-pound mono in diameter, and is much more slippery; attach 10-pound braid to 30-pound fluoro with three wraps, and the knot will fail every time you set the hook. To compensate for the greater disparity in diameter between the braid and leader, simply add more wraps. Depending on leader size, I typically do four wraps on the leader, and eight to 10 on the braid side of the knot. A line cutter such as the Boomerang Snips is indispensible for trimming tough braid cleanly.

I’m sure readers will be quick to comment that there are smaller-diameter knots, as well as knots that perhaps test closer to 100 percent strength. No argument there. However, those two arguments are irrelevant to my needs, as I fish 5- to 10-pound braid on a 6-pound rod, and rarely apply more than a couple pounds of drag when fighting fish on the flats. For anglers who routinely cast their line-to-leader knots through the rod guides—I don’t, as it can damage the guides and weaken the knot itself—a smaller, more streamlined knot would indeed be preferred.

On the terminal end, virtually every lure is attached with a nameless loop knot that literally takes five seconds to tie and never slips, with the added benefit of a tag end that folds toward the lure and therefore doesn’t grab weeds. A loop knot serves the same but less visible function as a split ring on the nose of the lure, enhancing the bait’s lifelike movement. However, I have more faith in my loop knot than I do in often-outsourced factory split rings; I’ve had too many straightened by snook, redfish and even big trout.

To tie the simple loop knot, run about two inches of line through the lure’s eye. Form two small loops side by side on the running end of the line. Slide the second loop through the first loop. Slip the tag end through the second loop, fold downward, and clamp between your thumb and finger. Tighten by pulling on the running end of the line. Trim the tag end to about 1/8-inch.