I’ve written about my favorite fly fishing knots in previous posts, but I’m preparing to teach a class entitled Making Effective Leaders for Rivers and Lakes at the International Federation of Fly Fishers Fair in Livingston, Montana on August 4. The Fair runs August 2 to 6. I thought I should use the knots I’ll be teaching, so this week I decided to start testing fly fishing knots.

My goal of the class is for students to learn how to make effective leaders for rivers and lakes. In order to do that, the fly fisher must know a few knots and be comfortable tying them. Each participant will leave with 3 leaders – a dry fly, nymph, and one to fish chironomids.

Here is my first experiment…the Non-Slip Loop Knot.

Bull Trout with Black Leech | www.johnkreft.com

Did you even look for the knot? It’s attached to a 4-inch long black leech pattern I threw together. Needless to say, I believe in the knot’s strength after hooking and catching this Bull Trout!

I’ve tied the Non-Slip Loop Knot knot before, but you know the feeling of trying to tie a new-to-you knot the first few times? Did I tie it correctly? Is the knot seated? Will it hold if I hook a fish? 

My go-to knot is the Improved Clinch Knot. I’ve tied it thousands of times and I really believe it works for me. And I’m comfortable tying it.

Improved Clinch Knot|www.johnkreft.com

I’ll be testing the Davy Knot next, a very simple knot to tie. I tried it several months ago, but didn’t have complete faith in the knot. It doesn’t have many wraps to secure the knot. My mind tells me I need a knot with more wraps to secure it, but I’ve heard great stories about this knot and need to give it a fair shot.

The reason I’d like to use the Davy Knot is when teaching knots to new fly fishers. I believe the biggest issue for most people is finger dexterity when tying them. I have big expectations for this knot.

There is a Double Davy Knot as well which I plan to try too.

Check out my previous Fly Fishing Knots post for a complete list of the knots I use and how to tie strong knots.

Lastly, if you ever need a refresher for the knots you use, go to the Resources tab on RiverKeeper Flies for links to these knots.

Enjoy…go fish!

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  1. I’m a big fan of the Davy knot. Been using it the last 4-5 years. Easy to tie, especially when your hands are cold, strong, and leaves virtually no sign of the knot at the eye of your hook. Especially important for small flies like chironomids. As a testimonial of its strength, I’ve landed a 10 and a 12 lb trout with this knot. Only thing is, when you clip off the tag, it must be a clean cut. If you pull on the tag while cutting, you will weaken the knot.


  2. Hi John,

    Gretchen and I use the Uni Knot (also Duncan Loop if not pulled tight). It is quite strong and also easily opened if needed. This is especially helpful when attaching droppers to the bend of the top-water pattern and you later want to change out this fly.

    We like a Figure-8 Knot when tying on tippet material or building a leader. It is similar to the Surgeon’s Knot but has a figure-8 rather than a loop. Thanks for your work on the Blog; we enjoy reading it. Take care & …

    Tight Lines – (Gretchen &) Al Beatty

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