David, a friend of mine and I fish several times a week. Each time we fish, he loses flies. I mean a lot of flies. He seems to be getting frustrated and I really need a fishing partner. So, I want to help him. What knot do you think is easiest and best for tying the fly to the tippet?
(Stevie is not his real name)
Stevie, I assume you have a knot that works for you and you tried to help your friend by teaching him the knot you use. I am also going to make a sizable leap here and assume your friend is hard-headed or is so ultra-competitive that he won’t use anything that you use. Thus he is always "looking for a competitive advantage." All of us, at some point, want to catch more fish and bigger fish than our fishing buddy. We want to do it every time and we don't even care if it’s our spouse. Competition is understandable.
The really cool thing about your email is, you get to fish a several times a week. People everywhere are wishing they were able to fish several times a week. Consider yourself lucky. The down side of the email is, your buddy has to be spending a bunch of money on flies that end up in the river or somewhere behind him after a back cast. Eventually he will run out of money or patience or both. Think about it. Fishes several times a week and cannot tie flies to the tippet? The fly shop or mail order website love this guy. His spouse, if he has one, is wondering how all the kid's lunch money can be suddenly disappearing at $2.50 a pop.
There are several knots that will tie a fly to a piece of tippet. Knots that will tie that fly to the tippet are for the most part basic. There are also a ton of knot tying websites, and YouTube has some great videos, any reputable fly shop has someone who can show your friend a couple knots. Fly shops are required to have someone to help folks learn to tie knots. If yours doesn't, then go find another fly shop to frequent.
If your friend needs to know; how to tie a knot, how to choose a knot, wants to learn the language of a knot, or just talk about knots in general, the first step is Google. If your friend doesn't know how to use Google, find anyone below the age of 90 and they can probably help. Then find a knot that ties a fly to a piece of tippet. In short, he should pick a knot, any knot.
I dare say your friend already has a knot or two that he believes is easy to tie and that he might even like. He would like that knot 100 times more if it actually held the fly. I am also going to bet that he practices those knots exactly zero times when he is not on the river. So he's spending more time digging for flies and getting frustrated than he is drowning a nymph, stripping a streamer, or getting that perfect drift for a dry fly to work.
Most knots will hold the fly tippet if tied properly. Yep, you read it here first. Someone went to all the trouble to invent the knot. People tested that knot, talked about that knot with other people, pulled on it, tugged at it, then tested it some more. Then that knot started to make it's way out to anglers and sailors everywhere. Most knots have stood the test of time and more importantly survived the scrutiny of anglers and sailors. This process should not be underestimated. All of these people really have too much time on their hands and generally live a boring life. Very similar to the rest of us.
If your angling buddy has a knot the he likes and that knot will tie his fly to the tippet, he is ahead in the battle of bringing more fish to the net...while still losing flies. If he hasn’t picked a knot, again, check The Google and just pick one.
How to tie a knot- I tell new anglers time and time again..."Decide which knot you like. Then go buy the cheapest 20 lb. test from a big box store or better yet go in the local bait shop and buy some. While you're in the bait shop watch the crickets too, it's calming somehow, it passes the time and eventually someone will strike-up an interesting conversation about fishing. You will learn something I promise. After you get home and while you are watching TV, with your significant other, just tie knots”
(Disclaimer: if you are watching Yellowstone put the 20lb. away and pay close attention.)
"That’s right get some cheap fishing line and a big hook and practice your knots. Practice those knots until you are confident you can tie them in the lowest of light. Then, step down several pounds in cheap fishing line and keep practicing. Before you know it, you will be really good at tying a fly to the tippet."
Oh and as far as which knot I think is the easiest and best for tying the fly to the tippet? Try an Improved Clinch or a Pitzen knot. I like them both and I can tie them in low light...cause, yes I practiced.
But Stevie, here is a word(s) of caution. If your friend learns to tie a knot and gets good at tying that knot, he will keep his fly in the water more. If he puts that together with learning about presentation and proper hook sets, there is a really good chance he will out fish you. Is that what you want?
If you have any fly fishing related questions, feel free to text, call or email David at firstname.lastname@example.org