How to Tie 6 Essential Fly Fishing Knots

Fishing is an exciting pastime. However, fly fishing is a different concept altogether. It is lovely, complex, engaging, and will most likely turn from a hobby to an addiction. A fascinating aspect of fly fishing is the myriad of interlocking facets that the art involves. We present you with a step-by-step guide on how to tie the top 6 essential fly fishing knots. These knots have the potential to give any beginner freshwater fly fisherman the desired success.

But before that, we find it essential to mention that apart from the multiple interlocking facets, fly fishing also allows you to venture into various depths.

Your fly fishing gear consists of a backing, leader, fly line, tippet, and a fly as one continuous system. However, unless you purchase a pre-assembled package, you will need the skills to connect each independent part must be joined by a knot.

You’ll have to memorize the knots you will use daily. For example, have on your fingertips the knots you will use for adding tippets or tying on a fly. These are activities you will handle in dozens per day.

However, you can tie other basic fishing knots with the help of a reference, such as this detailed guide. Of course, doing that still does not make you a lousy fly fisher, particularly if you have to look up a less-common knot. An example of a knot you can refer is an arbor knot. You can use this occasionally and only when you acquire a new reel, and you need to add backing to it.

It’s also fun to experiment with different knots. While some knots are easier to tie, others are way too complex. Also, try knots from time to time will make you discover new and more uncomplicated ways of tying old knots.

Top 6 Essential Knots for Fly Fishing

Fly fishing for beginners is exciting, and these are some of the knots that will make your expedition exciting and successful;

100 Percent Arbor Knot

The 100 Percent Arbor Knot is pretty famous. Bill Nash created it in his renowned Flycasting Systems. The 100 Percent Arbor Knot provides an exquisite method for attaching the backing of your line to a fly reel. It guarantees 100%-line strength and unbeatable reliability.

Although the standard Arbor Knot is also common among fly fishers, it is used for creating a simple attachment between the line and the spool. One of the things novice and seasoned fishers want is to have a 100% arbor connection.

This is always comforting, significantly if your system will be put against big fish. There is comfort in knowing that the backing has more outstanding reliability and breaking strength than the leader or tippet in such an event. Hence, there is always the surety that you will get your back your fly line.


  • Start by tying a Bimini Twist knot towards the end of your backing line. Once done, create a loop of the double line section, which is about 24 inches long. Also, if you are faster with a Spider Hitch or a triple Surgeon’s Loop or Spider Hitch, you can substitute the double loop with any of these. The two are great for speed but are considerably less reliable.
  • Form a larger loop with your double lines. You can then tie a two-turn Half Fisherman’s knot or Nail Knot just after the Bimini. Proceed to tie a Double Overhand Stopper knot or an overhand at the tail end of the double line. Work the entire thing down close to your nail knot. Tighten and trim the knot. Now, tighten your nail knot and ensure it is secure.
  • Fold your double line loop appropriately into a double loop. Remove and hold the spool properly and slip it over your spool.
  • Pull the standing line gently to slide the nail knot tightly against your arbor knot. Now, work the primary line back and forth continuously to close all loops completely.
  • Return the spool and re-attach it to the fly reel.
  • Wind on the backing and your fly line to complete the knot.


Albright Special

The Albright Knot is favored among fly fishers and one of the most incredibly reliable knots. It is ideal for joining lines that are of unequal diameters. Also, you can use the Albright Knot for joining lines made from different materials. For example, you can use it to join a braided line to a monofilament line.

Interestingly, many seasoned fly anglers prefer to use the Albright to create an attachment between the fly line and leader material. Other anglers go as far as cutting off a factory welded loop and substituting it with the Albright! That’s how dependable this loop is.

It unquestionably is the number one knot for anyone who wants to try Dacron backing to the fly line. It is straightforward to tie and is one of the knots every angler should know.


  • Take the heavier line and make a loop on it.
  • Feed about 10 inches of the lighter line at your disposal through the loop.
  • Hold all the three lines between your index finger and your thumb.
  • Pick the lighter line and wrap it back over itself and the two strands of your loop.
  • Continue to make ten wrapped turns. Ensure the wrapped turns are very tight.
  • Feed the tag end of the lighter line back through your loop.
  • Exit the loop from the same side it entered. Notably, you can wrap back to front or front to back. Either method will present you with a similar result. All that matters is that the line should exit the loop from the same side it entered.
  • Holding both ends of your heavier line, slide the wraps until you get to the end of your loop. Tighten the knot by pulling the lighter line.


Harvey Dry Fly Knot

Experienced anglers are not new to the Harvey Dry Fly Knot. Notably, it is one of the most famous creations of George Harvey, a fly fishing instructor.

The Harvey Dry Fly Knot is one of the most suitable choices for connecting flies featuring up or down-turned hook eyes to a tippet. However, it is not ideal for use on lines with straight eye hooks.

It exhibits maximum strength, and it does not allow a sideways tilt of the fly. And unlike the Turle Knot, this system helps you avoid passing open loops over bulky fly patterns during your knot-tying process.


  • Insert the tag end into the hook eye and return it towards the standing line.
  • Hold the standing and tag ends in front of your fly and make a small loop over the standing line. Once done, make another loop of a similar size and hold both circles together.
  • Pass the tag end of your line through the loops twice, making two wraps around each of them.
  • Cinch the knot by holding the bend of your hook on one end and pulling on the standing line with the other hand. Both loops will conveniently slide back and pop above the hook eye to leave a straight connection between your line and the fly if you do everything right. Trim the tag end.
  • Let the knot rest on the thread wrapping of your fly’s head.


Double Davy Knot

The Davy Knot is a creation of Davy Wotton, an icon British Fly Fishing professional. The three fundamental points that anglers like about this knot include speed, size, and overall strength. You will agree that all these are great attributes an angler would want for a fishing knot.

It features an excellently small profile, which is ideal for incredibly tiny flies. Notably, you will find this knot ideal for size 22 to size 18 flies. Still, you can use the Double Davy Knot for flies starting from around size 16 and above. It adds extra strength to your fly and is by far more reliable and dependable as you get into more extensive hook eyes and heavier tippets.

The tying method for the Double Davy Knot is nearly similar to the famous J Knot often used for tying tippet to the leader. However, it features fewer passes. If you know how to tie the J Knot, securing the Double Davy will be a breeze!


  • Thread 3 inches to 4 inches of tippet or leader through the hook eye.
  • Loosely form an overhand knot just before the hook.
  • Hold the tag end and return it through the loop. Make sure it passes between the simple overhand knot and your hook. That is one complete Davy.
  • Now, pass the tag end back one more time through the to complete the Double Davy.
  • Alternatively, you can tie the Double Davy by making a second wrap similar to the previous step.
  • Pulling the tag end draws up the knot and, in turn, tightens it.


Clinch Knot

The Cinch knot is another DIY you should memorize. And while the original Clinch Knot is no longer as widespread due to the myriad of improved versions you will come across, it remains a valuable knot. Of course, many enhanced versions are now famous, and an online search will generally bring up improved versions.

But for the sake of fly fishing knots for beginners, we will focus on the original Clinch Knot. Firstly, the knot is pretty reliable. It is also easy and quick to tie. Ideally, a swift and easy-to-tie fly fishing knot saves you time and allows you to enjoy more fishing time and less time fumbling with knots.

Using a two-fly rig is one of the applications in which a Clinch Knot will considerably speed up re-rigging. In this scenario, the top fly goes on with the Clinch, while a dropper line is attached to your fly’s hook. You can do this by making a loop at the end of a tippet using the Clinch and securing it to the hook’s top fly. As you do that, let the bottom fly go on with another Clinch Knot.


  • Conveniently feed the line via the hook’s eye, lure, or fly.
  • Double the line back, ensuring it remains parallel to the standing line. Now, pinch both lines and hold them together with your right thumb and forefinger.
  • With your left hand, insert your index finger and twist the line about seven below the hook.
  • Once done, feed the tag end of your line back up via the opening behind your hook or fly.
  • Moisten both lines and gently pull the knot to tighten it.


Tyer Nail Knot

We end our top 6 fly fishing knots with the versatile Tyer Knot. It is pretty easy to tie. However, you can still use the Tie-Fast Knot Tyer to tie the knot. It is a handy tool you can use for tying the knot on a fly line. The tool shortens the work and makes tying this knot a breeze.

This knot is ideal for attaching the backing to your fly line. You can also use it for connecting the leader to the fly line. You will often find the set of instructions if you buy the tool. However, we can still outline these instructions here;


  • With the Tie-Fast Knot Tyer tool on the palm of either of your hands, conveniently place the backing or leader between the metal guides. Ensure that the leader or the backing conveniently rests on top of the pad and passes through the tips.
  • Run a minimum of 6 inches of your line beyond the tip of the tool. Hold the string in place with the thumb of the same hand holding the Tie-Fast Knot Tyer tool.
  • Make 4 or 5 wraps around the tip of the Tie-Fast Knot Tyer tool and tighten them. Do these while working back towards your thumb.
  • Insert the tag end of your line under the coils you made and get it back out at the tip of the Tie-Fast Knot Tyer tool.
  • Holding the coils in place with your thumb, insert the end of your fly line into the tool’s tip, ensuring that the line gets under the coils and out of it about just a half-inch beyond the coils.
  • Gently, hold everything in place and give a make tug at the tag end of the backing or leader. Doing this helps to slide the knot off the Tie-Fast Knot Tyer tool and onto your fly line. Adjust appropriately, tighten, and make your trims.


Key Takeaway

You can only get the most from your fly fishing expeditions if you have the right skills. And among the skills, you should look out for is tying some of the primary fly fishing knots. This article contains up to 6 knots you will find helpful in your day-to-day fly fishing expeditions.