Two loops you should be using to tie Flies to Leaders…

Over the years I have used and tested a fair few knots. One of the biggest debates is what knot to use when tying a fly to the leader.

The first knot I was taught was the good old clinch knot. Then it got improved. Then there was the uni-knot. I never really questioned knots until just after I left school. Questions about fly movement, and how the line/knot restricted its ‘life’, what different knots were there and the concept of knot strength and seating.

It was around this time that I had my first trip to the Seychelles. Tropical saltwater fly fishing BLEW MY MIND and gave me an entirely new board on which to draw. And draw I did.  From gear selection, the importance of drag, line tapers, leader construction (or lack thereof) and knots – and this without flies and species!

After that initial trip read and researched. And I tested. Using an old 50lb force meter I played with knots, how they seated and how they broke.

Steps for the Lefty Loop as sent to me by the late Paul Weingartz

Steps for the Lefty Loop as sent to me by the late Paul Weingartz.

I first cutout knots that did not create a loop. I became a hearty believer in the importance of fly movement and soon stopped using those old clinch knots altogether. I played with several loop knots, including the Surgeon, Perfection, Rapala and Duncan loops. But one stood out for me.

I had been looking for a knot that:

a)   Is relatively easy to tie – even when in stressful fishing situations
b)   Is strong – more than 90% of line strength retained after seating
c)    Doesn’t have a tag end that fouls in weed – this is what killed the perfection loop for me
d)   Is one can adjust the size of the loop during the tying process
e)   And lastly, could be tied in all line diameters.

The Lefty Kreh Non-Slip Loop

The Lefty Kreh Non-Slip Loop is my winner. The story goes that Lefty, while in search of a strong non-slipping loop, added a few turns around the standing part of nylon in a Clifford’s Knot. A so the Lefty’s Loop (as I refer to it) was born.

And it fills 4 of the 5 criteria I want. The only one it lacked was its effectiveness in lines heavier than 50 lbs.

The tying process is pretty simple and can be followed as below. The amount of turns around the standing part of the nylon will depend on the diameter of the line. The below table shows the recommended wraps to breaking strain

Breaking StrainTurns
4 – 6lbs7 – 8
8 – 15lbs5
20 – 40lbs4
50lbs +2

The Double Figure of Eight

Personally, I don’t use a Lefty’s Loop for line with a breaking strain of more than 50lbs. I find that the knot becomes clumsy and doesn’t seat straight. Especially when tying flies onto stiff fluorocarbon leaders when targeting big fish that live in rocky, foul and line unfriendly neighbourhoods. Think GTs around coral heads, etc…

I don’t know what the name of this knot is but its source for me comes from a couple of places. I’d used the knot to join sections of leader and is very similar (but simpler) than the Slim Beauty (another very cool knot) but when I saw a post on Francois Botha’s Facebook wall about using the same technique to create a loop that I slapped my forehead and sighed “Duhhh!”.

So simple, so incredibly effective and so strong!

Its seats cleanly, you can cut the tag flush and, with a little practice, can be tied easily.

I do, however, make the suggestion that if you are planning on fishing heavy leaders, pre-tie a couple. I tend to carry two or three, preloaded leaders with a loop at the butt end and a fly at the other. This is purely because of the fact that seating a knot quickly AND properly while on the water, especially on your own, can lead to a knot failing. I unfortunately have learnt this the hard way on more than one occasion.

A couple of general tips when it comes to knots:

  1. Lubricate. Doesn’t matter whether its fluorocarbon or mono; spit before you tighten. There has been much said about fluoro slipping when lubricated, truth is, fluoro has worse heat distributing properties than mono.
  2. Be aware of how the knot seats and what it looks like as tightened – for example, if you are using a Perfection Loop, the tag end needs to be 90O to the main line or that the Lefty Loop’s tag end points back towards the fly.
  3. Learn your knots. Its easy to practice them over a drink or tie them up stream or surf side without pressure. But I guarantee you that if you don’t know your knts inside out and you need to tie it in a hurry – think bust off and the fish are still feeding – you don’t want to be fumbling!
  4. When seating knots in heavy leaders, use force – hook the hook onto something solid (obviously don’t use the point) and use your body weight to seat the knot properly. This eliminates slip that may occur when a big fish is attached to the end of your line!