Perfect Clinch Knot
Sorry I’ve been out of the loop for a few days. I’ve been occupied with any number of items that have drained my time like a mechanic draining old motor oil–in fact, I’ve felt a bit like that old motor oil that’s being drained.
But, here’s a knot that is so misused that it gets abused. I say misused because so many anglers tie it incorrectly, and then curse the day they every used it. For them, it’s on to the Improved Clinch. But, I will tell you right now that I use the Clinch Knot most of the time–I have for over 60 years–and I don’t ever have problems with it.
The difficulty with the Clinch Knot is in the way many anglers have learned to tie it. So, let me walk you through the knot one step at a time and explain the nuances that make this one of my favorite fly attachment knots.
Step 1. Step 1. Take the leader through the eye of the fly. Up through or down through? doesn’t matter. Just go through.
Step 2. Twist the short end of the tippet around the standing end 5 to 7 turns (Jason uses 6 turns as the average of 5 and 7). Note here: Just twist them together like I’ve done with the rope in the photo below; don’t try to wrap the short end in tight coils around the standing end. By the way, when I use a rope kit for demonstrating knots (see my previous post on the rope kit), I only make three turns with the short end. Five turns don’t pull up well in the ropes.
Step 3. Insert the short end through the loop in the tippet just ahead of the eye of the fly. This loop was made when the short end of the tippet was folded back along the standing end before the two were twisted together. I often hold this loop and keep it extra large size when I’m wrapping the short end around the standing end. This makes inserting the short end into the loop ever so much easier.
Step 4. HERE IT COMES. Do not, again I repeat for extra emphasis, Do Not, pull the short end. Hold it tightly, but do not pull it. Pull only on the standing end of the tippet. As the knot rolls over and slides down, touch it with the tip of your tongue to lubricate it with saliva. Pull the knot smoothly tight, and then continue to pull, drawing all stretch out of the tippet and holding it tight long enough to say something inane like “Now you’re tight enough to catch a big fish.” Again, let me remind you, do not pull the short end. This is the single critical mistake that everyone makes when tying the Clinch Knot.
If you pull the short end of the tippet while trying to tighten the Clinch Knot, the coils of the leader cannot invert and slide back to pinion the short end tightly against the wire of the hook eye. In the photo below, you can see that the knot hasn’t inverted and the short end isn’t locked firmly against the eye. In fact, it isn’t locked against anything at all. When tied this way, the knot readily comes untied during casting or worse yet, when you hook a fish. Sooooo, Tie the knot correctly. DON’T pull the short end. When tied correctly, lubricated with saliva, and pulled smoothly tight, the Clinch Knot works just fine, thank you. So well, in fact, that it’s been the standard, go-to knot for nearly all my fishing for over 60 years.