Fishing Line Knots - The Weakest Link

There are too many fishing line knots to list them all. The hassle of knot tying has always been a pet peeve of mine. Fortunately I am a freshwater fisherman, where one knot is all I need for 90% of all my applications. I am a procrastinator and I always hesitated when it came to retying after catching a fish or to try different baits when fishing was tough. All that changed after learning the Palomar knot. It’s simple, fast and the strongest fishing knot you can tie. After learning how to tie it and performing the test described below, I think you’ll agree.

Before covering the Palomar knot, I want to talk about joining two different diameter lines with a fishing line knot that has the lowest profile without giving up line strength.

Line to line

This is the fishing line knot you will use to attach braided line to monofilament fishing line both when attaching braided line to backing and leader to braid line. Make sure the knots are uniform and smooth. Moisten the line between the knots before pulling them together. I also tie 3 overhand safety knots on the tag end of the braided line for insurance. Braided line has a tendency to slip so you want that extra insurance.

Looking at the illustrations, line A will be the one on the left and line B the one on the right. 1) Overlap about 12 inches of the ends of two lines. Form a Uni-Knot circle with the tag end of line "A." Uni-Knot or Barrel Knot

2) Wrap line "A" five times to form a Uni-Knot around line "B." Uni-Knot or Barrel Knot

Snug the knot by gently pulling on both ends of line "A" with enough tension to close the wraps, but not so tight that it actually grips line "B." While pulling the line, hold the knot between your thumb and index finger to keep the wraps uniform. You may need to roll the knot gently to keep the loops from over lapping each other. If you just try to pull it tight, without any assistance, it tends to ball up creating a big ugly wad especially with heavy monofilament fishing line. Of the two fishing line knots described on this page this is ,by far, the toughest one to master. The good thing is you only have to tie it when your leader gets shortened from retying hooks. I only need to do this every couple of days. Uni-Knot or Barrel Knot

3) Form a new Uni-Knot circle with the tag end of line "B" and wrap line "B" five times to form a Uni-Knot around line "A." (Use only four turns for 60’, 80’ or 100-pound-test monofilament.) Uni-Knot or Barrel Knot

4) Gently pull line "B" with one hand and line "A" with the other to slide the two Uni-Knots together until they jam…then pull tight. Then tighten the wraps around the standing lines by firmly pulling the tag ends of each Uni-Knot. Uni-Knot or Barrel Knot

5) Snip the tag ends.

tying braided line to monofilament

This is what your knot should look like after you pull it tight. Notice the ball at the tag end of the braid line to the left of the knot. This is the triple overhand knot I tie as a safety knot incase the braided line slips. To the right is the snipped off end of the monofilament fishing line.

Leader to hook

The Palomar Knot is the most widely used of the fishing line knots for almost any application. I use it for tying hooks to my leader for shiner fishing. Any lure, clip, swivel etc. that I tie on for artificial, I use the Palomar Knot.

1) Double about four inches of line and pass the loop through the eye. Palomar Knot

In figure one it says “pass the loop through the eye”. When you do this never pinch the line when feeding through the eye. When you pinch the line, it creates a weak spot and can cause it to break. To avoid that from happening, I feed the end of the line through the eye, pulling enough through to make a large loop and then feed it back through the eye. This eliminates any chance of weakening the knot.

2) Let the lure or hook hang loose and tie an overhand knot in the doubled line. Avoid twisting the line and don't over tighten. Palomar Knot

3) Pull the loop of line far enough to pass it over the lure or hook. Make sure the loop passes completely over this attachment. Palomar Knot

Now look at figure 4 below.

4) To tighten, pull the tag end while holding the standing line. Clip the tag end. Palomar Knot

Palomar Knot

Look at this picture closely. This is what the knot should look like when you pull it down tight. If the line in the eye is not lying side by side, like in the example, start over. If the line is over lapping it creates a weak spot causing the line to cut itself. This is the strongest, simplest, fastest and least bulky of the fishing line knots you can tie. If not tied correctly, it becomes the weakest.

One very important thing to remember is when tying a swivel in-line exp; Carolina rig, always tie the swivel to the leader first. Remember step 3 where you pull the loop over the lure or hook? In this case the first step, tying the swivel on the end of the line, no problem, you just pull the loop over the swivel and cinch it down. In the next step when you try to tie the leader onto the swivel what happens? You not only pull the loop over the swivel but remember you’ve already attached it to the end of the line which includes your rod and reel…OOPS! I had to learn this the hard way and after calling myself a few choice names, I cut the swivel off and started over.

There are two solutions:

  1. Cut the swivel off and start over by tying the swivel to the leader first.
  2. Use fishing line knots such as the clinch knot or improved clinch knot.

I recommend the first since my experience tells me that the Palomar, tied correctly, is the strongest and least bulky I can use.


Tie a light line such as 8lb. or less to a hook with the Palomar knot. Check your knot to see that the line going through the eye of the hook is not over lapped. Stick the point into a secured board. Pull the line until it breaks. Now look at the hook. Is the knot still intact? This shows you that the knot is stronger than the line. After performing this test, I was convinced that the Palomar was the best of the fishing line knots I could use. It gives me confidence that I can eliminate one of the weak links between me and the fish.

One of my faults was not retying enough. Whether it was to change lures when I knew the one I was using wasn’t catching fish, to retie after catching a fish or fishing abrasive heavy cover. With the Palomar, because it’s the fastest and easiest fishing line knot to tie, I don’t hesitate to change baits or retie whenever necessary.

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