Viking Lars | Saturday, 4 July 2020

This could be about the most annoying little bug on the planet - the little, black buggers called “knot” in Swedish (and Norwegian, maybe?). They are so small they get through even the finest bug nets and even the harshest fly-line-melting bug repellants are without effect and they can literally drive people nuts, enough to make them leave their fishing. But it’s not (#I’llfindmyownwayout). It is in fact about knots - the ones we tie!

I remember when I got my first rod - a 6’ solid glass fiber spinning rod and a cheap reel. It was combo set (the rod was blue, I remember) with reel, pre-spooled with line and a handful of spinners. I went out to a small lake, where I knew we kids could get permission to fish just by asking the farmer. There were decent perch in the small lake, and I would catch a few, lose a spinner, tie on a new one, hook some weed, lose the spinner and within an hour, I was cycling back to mom and dad and do my best to persuade them to a visit to the local sports retailer who had a small tackle section.

One day I was out with a friend who was a little more experienced than me, and he noticed I was tying a double overhand knot, and quickly showed me how to tie a blood knot. And suddenly, I was losing far less tackle (even if the monofilament was of considerably lower quality back then). I wasn’t aware of the importance of knots in monofilaments, which in hindsight is a bit odd, because for some reason, I’ve always been quite fascinated with knots. Sometimes I’d sit and learn different knots from books (and sometimes I still sit and tie knots in a string for no real reason - they’re just fascinating). I then began reading about fishing and learned more knots.

When I got into fly fishing I learned a handful of new knots, and I also learned how important it is to stick with maybe a handful, instead of always learning more knots, because there are many that serve the same purposes. But some knots are specialty knots that do something other knots don’t, and those are the ones I enjoy the most. Somehow I can’t wait to get into tropical saltwater and/or snakehead fishing - just as an excuse to learn all the exciting knots needed.

I think my favourite knot is the Double Turle’s Knot. Yes, it’s Turle’s, not turtle. The knot is named after a major, William Greer Turle, who fished with Halford in the late 19th century. The Turle’s Knot is closely associated with eyed hooks and Major Turle was in fact an early proponent of eyed hooks. So even though most people today associate the knot with salmon fishing, it was developed for dry fly fishing. As far as I remember, the knot was not invented by the good major, but he did a lot to popularise it.

The knot only works on up-eye (and down-eye for that matter - but best on up-eye) hooks. Well, you can tie it on any eyed hook, but a straight eyed hook will end up at a sharp angle to the leader. And Turle’s Knot is a steering knot, and that’s where it differentiates from most other knots. As the leader passes through the hook eye and lets the knot grab the shank of the hook, the knot can’t slide to the side of the eye. The hook will always fish “in a straight line”, so to speak.

And it’s a beautiful knot - and it’s a very strong not, and I always use it when fishing up-eyes singles for salmon and sea trout in rivers and streams. It’s a bit fiddly to tie, but well worth the effort. And of course it’s important to keep in mind, when tying the fly, to leave a little room between and head of the fly and the eye, so the knot can grab the shank.

I tip my hat to Major Turle (and the unknown inventor) for a beautiful knot. It’s fascinating to think that we’ve been using this knot for over 150 years, despite the development that has taken place in lines and monofilaments.

Have a great weekend!