The Nail Knot vs. Loop-to-Loop
Over the last ten to fifteen years, the fly line industry has manufactured its lines with a loop at the leader end. There is no question that it is easier to attach leaders, which are also made with a loop, than using a nail knot. Do we remember the old-fashioned nail knot?
Like most everyone else, I transitioned from using a nail knot to attach my leader and used the loops on both the line and leader to attach them “loop-to-loop”. But recently, I began to cut off the loops and have returned to using a nail knot. The obvious question is “why”?
Some casters note a hinge effect when using loop-to-loop connections. I found this to be true when attaching sinking tip leaders to floating lines. But I do not honestly notice hinging with a loop-to-loop connection between a mono leader and a floating line.
The reason that I have abandoned the loops is that I find myself using longer leaders. Whether tight-lining or dry-fly fishing over increasingly spooky trout, my leaders generally extend at least 15-16 feet. Fishing with my 10 foot rod, it’s difficult to put a fish into the net without the line/leader connection passing into the guides on the rod. Many times, when a fish sees the net, a last dash to freedom is made. If the line/leader connection is inside the guides, the loop-to-loop connection’s bulk can get caught in a guide. This often leads to a snapping of the tippet, and loss of a big fish! Even worse is a broken rod tip.
Because of this, I want a low-profile line/leader connection. Dominick Swentosky of Troutbitten.com agrees, and uses a clinch knot to attach his leaders to the line loop. But call me old-fashioned, I prefer the nail knot. To further assure a smooth passage of the line/leader connection through the guides, I apply a few drops of Super Glue to the knot, covering the clipped ends of the leader and line. There is no opportunity for the line/leader connection to run afoul of the guides and losing the fish of the day.
So, if you are fishing with a rod that is 11 feet or less in length, and using long leaders requiring the line/leader connection to pass inside the guides in order to net your fish, consider the profile of the line/leader connection. Sometimes less is more!
written by Al Simpson, September, 2021.