The Best Fly Fishing Knots For Beginners

Fly fishing knots for beginners

If you’re new to the sport, fly fishing knots can be overwhelming, with a lot of options to choose from. But there’s no need to worry – we’ve got you covered with our top eight knots for fly fishing beginners. We’ll show you what the knots are and when to use them, as well as taking a look at the best leader knots for fly fishing.

Beginner Knots for Fly Fishing

There are a lot of different fly fishing knots, and if you’re a beginner, it can be difficult to know where to start. You might be asking yourself questions like: Which knot is best to use? How many should you master? Do you need to know them all?

When you’re starting out, there’s no need to try to learn every single knot all at once. It’s better to master a few key knots, before moving onto more advanced knots in time.

Leader Knots in Fly Fishing

One of the first things you’ll need to learn about is a fly fishing leader knot.

A leader in fly fishing is the last length of your fishing line before your hook. When you’re fishing, it’s this part of your fishing line that goes into the water. That means it comes very close to the fish, so it’s important that it’s less visible to fish, and it also needs to be highly resilient.

If you fish without a leader, your fishing line may break when it comes into contact with fish. Leaders are designed to be durable, meaning they can withstand even the most aggressive fish species.

You’ll need to attach your leader to your main fishing line, and this is where fly fishing leader knots come in. The two main knots used for this purpose are albright knots and double uni knots.

Albright knots are easy to tie and they’re one of the best knots for tying two different lengths together, or two different materials, meaning you can choose a leader made from a different material than your main line.

Double uni knots are also useful for tying together lines of different lengths, although it can be a trickier knot to get the hang of, so we recommend starting with the albright knot. But we’ll go into more detail about both of these knots later on…

Our Top 8 Fly Fishing Knots For Beginners

The leader isn’t the only part of your fly fishing system that needs to be tied with a knot. Your backing, fly line, tippet and fly all need to be connected with a knot, so it’s a good idea to take some time learning how to tie them. That means you can put your fishing set-up together faster, leaving you with more time to focus on the fun stuff – landing your first catch! These are the best knots for fly fishing when you’re just starting out.

1. Homer Rhodes Knot

The Homer Rhodes knot is a strong loop knot with many benefits for beginner anglers. It is extremely easy to tie, can be tied in a very heavy leader or line, and it allows a loop of any size to be left in the line.

It has evolved over time into different methods, and these variations are known as the improved Homer Rhodes knot. This improved version is such as it has the option of a double-loop overhand knot in the second knot position. This keeps the knot simple, but stronger than the original.

We have a page all about this knot with some handy tips for tying the Improved Homer Rhodes knot here.

2. Dropper Knot

A dropper knot in fly fishing is a way of fishing more than one fly, making it a very useful knot to know! It gives you the opportunity to use two flies at the same time, either simply to increase your chances of catching a fish, or to test out multiple different fly patterns to see which the fish prefer on that particular day.

It’s also beneficial if you’re targeting bottom species, surf fishing or catching baitfish, as you can quickly change the hook and weight sizes if the conditions change.

You may also want to use a dropper knot if you’re using very small fly patterns. These are difficult to sink on their own, but by putting a heavier fly on as well, it’ll sink the lighter fly.

3. Perfection Knot

The perfection knot is a loop knot that’s incredibly versatile and can be used in many different situations. It’s a strong, effective knot that’s easy to tie, making it the ideal choice for beginners.

A perfection knot creates a stable loop, and when used to connect your leader to the fly line it allows you to change the leader line very quickly and easily.

This knot is often a good choice for fishing on the bottom, as when it’s drawn tight, it sheds weeds and seagrass.

Learn how to tie the perfection knot with our simple instructional video from the LOOP Akademi.

Photo of a fishing reel and Shooter line. Text on image reads 'perfection loop'

4. Rapala Knot

A rapala knot is a type of loop knot that’s known for being extremely strong. It’s usually used to attach your leader to a fly or lure, and because it’s one of the strongest knots, it’s a good choice if you’re targeting larger species of fish.

Another big advantage of using a rapala knot is that the lure can swing on the loop. This adds more movement to the fly when it’s weaving through the water, creating a more realistic movement pattern to tempt the fish.

It’s easy to modify the rapala knot based on your needs. If you want to tie straight onto a hook, you can choose a smaller loop, while if you want to place a hook further back in a tube fly, you can simply make the loop longer. Find out more about tying a rapala knot in our LOOP Akadami tutorial video.

Photo of someone holding a fishing fly. Text on image reads 'rapala knot'

5. Blood Knot

A blood knot is best for joining two lines of a similar size, and is most often used for monofilament lines where sections don’t vary more than .002” in diameter.

It’s a very clean knot that leaves no ends sticking out, and it can also be an extremely strong knot, depending on how many turns you include when tying it.

It’s thought that this knot gets its name from the type of knot used in a cat o’ nine tails, a type of multi-tailed whip used for punishment in the Royal Navy and British Army. Thankfully today, it’s used as a relatively simple and easy-to-learn fly fishing knot. Find out how easy it is to tie for yourself in our LOOP Akademi tutorial.

Photo of someone holding a fishing fly and line. Text on image reads 'Blood Knot (clinch knot) - to fly'

6. Universal (Uni) Knot

The universal (or uni) knot is one of the most commonly used knots for fly fishing. It’s been used since the 1940s, when it was first published in The Ashley Book of Knots. It’s sometimes also known as the Duncan loop, named for Norman Duncan who also developed it independently in the 1960s.

It’s popular because it can be used in many different ways, including attaching the backing to the reel, tying on a fly, or tying two pieces of tippet together using two uni knots (known as the double uni knot).

Once you’ve mastered the uni knot, you’ll find it quick and easy to tie, even when there’s little light, making it a good choice for all year round. It can be used with monofilament, fluorocarbon and braided fishing lines, making it a strong all-rounder.

Find out more about tying the uni knot in our video tutorial from LOOP Akademi.

Photo of a fishing fly and line. Text on image reads 'Uni knot to fly'

7. Albright Knot

The albright knot is most commonly used for tying line to line. It’s a good choice if you have two lines that aren’t an equal diameter, for example if you’re tying your backing line to your fly line.

It’s also a good knot to know if you need to join different types of line together, like a braided line to a monofilament line.

The albright knot is strong, but you can make it even stronger by using the improved albright knot. This has an extra step to make the albright knot more secure, and is most useful when working with single-strand wire.

Find out how to tie an albright knot, and learn more about when to use it, in our LOOP Akademi tutorial.

Photo of a fishing reel and fly line. text on image reads 'Albright knot - Backing to fly line'

8. Double Figure of Eight Knot

The double figure of eight knot is quick, easy and reliable. It’s a good choice for attaching your leader to the fly line, or your backing to a running line using a loop to loop connection.

A double figure eight knot is much stronger and more secure than simply using a single figure eight. It works by creating two knots that lock together and jam into place, meaning there are no weak points.

It’s easy to tie in a hurry, meaning if a fish is refusing your chosen fly, you can quickly change and still land the catch. The double knot also makes it strong enough for larger fighting fish, compared to a single figure eight knot which may not stand up to such strong species.

Learn more about the double figure eight knot in our handy tutorial.

Image of someone tying a knot. Text on image reads 'Double figure of eight - Loop Knot'

There are lots of different fly fishing knots, which can be overwhelming as a beginner. But mastering these eight key knots will stand you in good stead. They cover almost any application you could need – and once you’ve got to grips with these simple knots, you can start to broaden your repertoire with additional knots.

Whether you want to learn new knots or get a refresher on these eight, head over to our fly tying page within the LOOP Akademi for everything you need to know about fly fishing knots.