In order to fly fish, you will need to know how to tie some very basic knots. There are just a couple knots that you will use very regularly and soon they will be as easy to tie as tying your shoe laces.

Recommended reference material on Fly Fishing Knots:

Fishing Knots: Proven to Work for Light Tackle and Fly Fishing with DVD

Guide to Fly Fishing Knots: A Basic Streamside Guide for Fly Fishing Knots, Tippets, and Leader Formulas

Basics of knot tying – Here are some essential items you should know about tying knots so you don’t lose that big fish:

  • Lubricate your knots with saliva or water prior to tightening your knot. This helps reduce friction and heat buildup when tightening the knot and allows your knot to slip and seat properly.
  • Seat your knot with a continuous motion and make sure your knot is fully seated. Test it by pulling on both ends of the line to make sure the knot holds.
  • Trim your ends carefully and as close to the knot as possible without damaging the line or knot. Use sharp nippers to trim.
  • Check the knot again after trimming just to make sure it holds. You don’t want to lose that big fish because of a bad knot!

Listed are the common knots used in order of frequency of use.


This knot is used to tie your fly to your leader or tippet. This is knot you will undoubtedly use more than any other knot.


A surgeon knot is an easy knot to use when tying tippet material to our leader. Easily the second most used knot.


A nail knot is used to connect your leader to your fly line. It is also an excellent knot to connect your line to your backing. Not as easy as the clinch or surgeons knot, you can become proficient with a little practice.


Connects your backing to your reel. Probably won’t be using this knot much but you should know how it is done.