Sunday’s Classic / 5 Reasons Why I Use A Uni-Knot in My Trout Fishing

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Capt. Joel Dickey choosing the right fishing knot for the situation at hand. Photo By: Louis Cahill

There’s plenty of other fishing knots out there that have better knot strength than the Uni-Knot, but that shouldn’t always be the deciding factor when you’re choosing what knot to use on the water. Reliability, how quick and easy it is to tie, type of rig you’re fishing, and functionality should all be weighed into the equation when it comes to knot choice. The decision to employ the Uni-Knot for my personal fishing and guiding has made my life easier on the water because of its versatility and ease of tying.

5 Reasons Why I use the Uni-Knot for Trout Fishing

1. The Uni-Knot is quick and easy to tie with fine tippet and small flies, particularly in low light situations.

2. The Uni-Knot is very reliable and rated at 90% knot strength. It won’t slip (fail) like the improved clinch knot can, for example, when it’s cinched down incorrectly or not tied with the correct number of line wraps.

3. I only need a small amount of tippet to tie the Uni-Knot. That lengthens the life of my leaders, cuts back on tippet usage, and saves me money in the long run.

4. The Uni-Knot allows me to quickly change out my lead fly in my tandem nymph or dry/dropper rig, and also saves me time untangling knots on the water since it can be loosened and re-tightened on demand.

5. The Uni-Knot serves other purposes other than tying your fly onto your leader. It also can be used to join two different lines and used to secure your backing to the reel.

The Uni-Knot Can Save You Time Untangling Knots

Untangling knots is a subject that I know far too well being a full-time fly fishing guide. These days, I can often spot a tangle in mid-air or by the way the leader lays out on the water. I’ve grown accustom to having clients look at me with a bewildered look when I tell them to stop casting and strip in. Moments later, when they get their fly rig in, the confused look leaves their faces, and the question of why, is answered. Using the Uni-Knot in my fishing rigs often allows me to untangle a birds nest and get back to fishing much quicker than with other fishing knots, because I don’t always have to retie the knot. I often can slide the knot open (by pinching and pulling back with my finger tips) and take off my dropper. This often provides me the room necessary to quickly untangle the rest of my rig, slide the dropper back on, and get back to fishing. This may not seem like a big deal to the average angler, but five minutes here and there, over the course of a full day, adds up to significant time saved, and that means your flies will spend more time in the water in front of the fish.

Minimizing Tangles and Determining a Plan of Attack 

To limit tangles on the water fly anglers should always be looking for visual clues that point to possible tangles during their fly casting and presentations. Single fly rigs aren’t usually the problem. It’s most often the tandem nymph and dry dropper rigs being used, that really cause havoc for novice anglers. As soon as you notice something wrong with your rig you need to immediately stop casting and strip in your fly rig for inspection. The quicker you diagnose a problem with your rig while fishing, the less damage and tangle you’ll create, dictating how fast you’ll be able to untangle and get back to fishing. When you do get a tangle, first decide whether you can untangle it easily or if it’s what I call an “Amputee Scenario”. If I’m fishing a tandem nymph rig, I quickly determine if I need to just snip off the trailer fly or perform an amputee, which calls for breaking down and rebuilding the entire rig. To aid in untangling messy birds nests, try taking off your strike indicator, split-shot and flies.

Tying the Uni-Knot

Taking the time to learn how to tie the Uni-Knot and incorporating it into your trout fishing is highly recommended. I don’t strictly use the Uni-Knot in my trout fishing, but I generally always find a place for the knot somewhere in my rig that serves me well. For example, I may tie a non-slip loop knot or Davy Wotton knot to my lead and dropper flies, but I’ll still tie the tippet to the bend of my lead fly hook with a Uni-Knot. This way, I can limit the knots I have to tie on the water, and change out flies and untangle knots quickly.

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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10 thoughts on “Sunday’s Classic / 5 Reasons Why I Use A Uni-Knot in My Trout Fishing

  1. I’m also a big fan of the uni-knot for the reasons Kent has stated above but for several more. Years ago when I did a lot of competitive bass fishing I would use the Uni and the Polamar knots almost exclusively. In the last 30 some years I’ve switched to fly fishing for trout and saltwater species and went to the traditional clinch and improved clinch when I first made the ” transformation. ” I developed eye problems in the mean time and would find myself on the stream spending way too many frustrating minutes trying to hit the holes on the clinch knots. It particularly was tough in the bewitching hour when spinners were falling, fish were slurping, and I was cussing because, even with magnification and light , I had trouble tying on a fly. Finally, out of desperation, I reached back into my bass arsenal and remembered how I could tie the Uni- Knot without looking and have it done in about ten seconds. I now use it all the time and also like the fact that it can be opened just a little and preform as a loop knot, tightening up on the hookset and not seeming to effect the hooking ratio. I enjoyed the post Kent and thanks Louis for putting out my favorite newsletter and Blog…Keep it up…Rick Heim

  2. I like using the uni-knot for attaching my leader to my fly line when there isn’t a loop on the fly line. I’ve used it for this sole purpose for as long as I can remember. It’s easy to tie and holds well. When it comes to tying on my flies and lures, it’s the old fashioned clinch knot for me. It was the first knot I ever learned and it’s stuck with me. It just requires a little attention, some spit, and a quick QC before tossing your fly, or lure in the water. To help with trying to tie it on smaller flies, and with smaller tippets, I always use a set of hemostats to keep everything tidy. Holding the line in one hand and the hemos in the other, clip the hemostats to the bend of the hook and make your twists. The weight of the hemostats keeps everything nice and tight, and makes it easier to place your tag end through the loop. Then just wet the line and pull tight. When it all boils down to it though, just stick with what you know, and what you’re confident in. Especially when it comes to something like knots. Nice post fellas

  3. Never tried the Uni, for 0x and bigger I use a tarpon loop, for 3x to 1x I use a non slip loop, anything below that I either Davy knot or Clinch.

    I’ll have to give the Uni a try

  4. I’m gona learn this knot and start using it the other day I was thinking how I could minimize my time untangling and re tying and I bet this will help
    Thanks for the great articles they really help, Hayden

    • Michael,

      I heard from a fly shop testing different knots for strength say that the Davy Knot had really poor knot strength. You ever feel like you break off when you shouldn’t be with it?


      • I have a few buddies that use the Davy knot most of the time. The exception being when they are fishing with smaller (6x, 7x, 8x) tippet. According to them the knot tends to fail with smaller tippet. I’ve never used it so I can’t say from my experience.

  5. I am going to have to try this knot. I have used the Palomar (bass fishing) Clinch and improved clinch and Davy knots for the last several years. When using the smaller tippet sizes 6-7X Flouro I have a lot of trouble with either the know slipping or breaking. The Uni might be the ticket.

  6. I switched over to using the uni-knot about a two years ago because of how easy it is to tie. Another use not listed above that it is great for it building leaders. I have found that the knot holds up better then many others out there. This is especially true when it comes to fighting large trout. Even when fighting 20+in trout it holds firm even when under a great deal of strain. I have tested it down all the way to 8x tippet and it holds. When I am in a competition it is the only knot I will ever use. Fast to tie and hold better then just about any other knot.

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