Nail Knot

The Nail Knot is used to attach your leader to your fly line. It can also used to attach your line to backing material. Though not a terribly difficult knot to tie, it is not as easy as the Clinch or Surgeon’s knot. This is one knot you should practice.

The Nail Knot requires a small diameter utensil like a nail, toothpick, or some other object about the twice the diameter of your fly line. A small diameter tube makes the knot even easier to tie.


  • Hold the tube and the end of the fly line with your left thumb and forefinger so about two inches of the fly line and the tube sticks out to the right.
  • With your right hand, from a 12-inch loop with the thicker end of your leader. Pinch down and hold this loop with your left thumb and forefinger next to the tube and fly line.
  • Use your right hand to grasp the short leg of the leader loop and make 5 snug wraps over the tube and fly line. These wraps should butt against each other and be at least ½” to ¾” from the end of the fly line.
  • Slide your left thumb and forefinger forward to hold the wraps so they don’t unwind while you work the tag end of the leader butt through the tube from right to left. Carefully remove the tube by sliding it to the left. (If you using a nail or other utensil, you will have to work the leader butt end under the wraps along the nail before removing it.)
  • Semi-tighten the knot by pulling gently on both ends of the leader. Do not pull on the fly line. Moisten the knot area, inspect the knot wraps for smoothness, and tighten the knot by simultaneously pulling on both end of the leader so it “bites” into the fly line. Then pull hard on the fly line and leader to seat the knot.
  • Trim the leader tag and flyline ends.
  • Test your knot!