Two Knots You Absolutely Need to Know

Posted by nick under Fishing Beginners Guide, Knots

In your fishing career, you will very likely learn many knots. But, you’ll be using these two knots from day one. They are indispensable. Let’s go over some knot tying terminology before we begin.

standing line: the part of the line that is not involved in making the knot; the part of the line that "stands still."

tag end: the very end of of the line; the part of the line that is being used to make the knot.

Arbor Knot

The arbor knot is the knot you use to tie line and backing onto your reel. It’s very simple. (Click on the photos to enlarge them.)


Step 1.

Pass the line around the arbor.

arbor knot step 1

Step 2.


Tie an overhand knot in the standing line.

arbor knot step 2

Step 3.


Tie another overhand knot in the tag end.

arbor knot step 3

Step 4.


Moisten the knots (saliva will do- the lubrication keeps the line from weakening from the friction of tying.) Hold the tag end on either side of the knots and pull tight. Cut off any excess line above the knot in the tag end. Snug the knot down. All done.

arbor knot step 4

Improved Clinch Knot

The improved clinch knot is the most popular knot for attaching hooks, swivels, snaps, lures, flies and sinkers on light line (20lb test or less, click on the photos to enlarge them.)


Step 1.

Pass the line through the eye of the hook and wrap the tag end around the standing line five times.

improved clinch knot step 1

Step 2.


Bring the tag end back and pass it through the loop you created above the eye.

improved clinch knot step 2

Step 3.


Now pass the tag end back through the big loop.

improved clinch knot step 3

Step 4.


Moisten the knot area. Hold the tag end in one hand, the standing line in the other and and pull slowly at the same time. Slide the coils tight with your fingernail. Clip the tag end.

improved clinch knot step 4

Hot Technique Alert: Have you ever heard of the fly and bubble technique? It’s an awesome and versatile fishing tactic that every spin fisherman should know… read about here.

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63 Responses to “Two Knots You Absolutely Need to Know”

  1. Clarifier Says:

    I feel the need to clarify for any newcomers who want to focus on the (off topic) spelling shenanigans.

    Everything started when a “dean” commented that palmer knots are the best, a “Curtis” sarcastically responded, asking if that was in any way related to the “Palomer” knot, just being a snide little booger.

    Nick responded to Curtis, mistakenly assuming the comment was directed at his site and many folks have since jumped to Nick’s defense.

    At the core is just a pretty typical internet comment making a bold claim with absolutely no support or defense. Which was then followed by another common internet comment, made by a grammar Nazi who needs to beat others down, in order to feel good about himself.

    Keep up the great work Nick, I am learning loads and have been fishing for awhile, learning as I went.

  2. Gregg Says:

    I love your knot tying tutorials. I’ve watched the videos and looked carefully at the instructional illustrations for the arbor knot on other “pro” websites. Often times they speed through it, the illustrations are crudely drawn or the illustrated bideos are of poor quality as well as done too fast with the same background color as the line. This makes learning very confusing.

    You went with a very good method. First you used what I can only guess are bootlaces? This medium is large enough that even if it is not in video form; a person can simply look at the knot construction to tell what steps are needed. It is a much easier medium to see than thread or fishing line.

    The steps and descriptions are not littered with pro-fishing lingo. It speaks to the rookie fisherman. I’ve been fishing all my life, but with enough breaks that I continuously forget proper names and different techniques. Add PTSD to the mix and I’m hopeless at remembering the basics.

    Thank you very much for laying these steps out in a simpler and easier to see method. Thanks for not throwing fishing lingo at us like all of us are pro fishermen. I don’t watch fishing shows or read fishing magazines. I just learn my knots and fish to figure out the techniques that work for me. Trial and error.

  3. ecommerce development Says:

    Hi there to every one, the contents present at this web page are in fact amazing for people knowledge, well, keep up the nice work fellows.

  4. Garth Says:

    Hi Nick, good site – thanks for your efforts.
    I would only suggest adding a comment as to which way to wind the line once the arbor knot is tight.
    I would wind the line so that the line coming out of the knot is “against” its previous direction, pulling the knot tighter. What do you normally do?

  5. Bruce DeRuyver Says:

    It may be wrong, but I have long heard and believed only a palomar knot would stay tied when using braided line ( ie spider wire ).
    Will the arbor knot work when spooling braided line ?

  6. Ferdinand Talania Says:

    Hello, Bruce. To get the best out of your braided spool outfit, do not tie the braided line directly onto the spool but instead, try having a monofilament line tied a few turns onto your spool first (mono-backing) to prevent braid line from slipping especially during a “fight” with a decent-sized fish. Just my 2-cents worth….

  7. Peter C Says:

    Thanks! I’m a noob and that was a great explanation

  8. Saraf @ Fish Finder Guide Says:

    woow . nice post . it really helps me to knot.

  9. Rupert Picante Says:

    In my experience the improved clinch knot is not much better than just a clinch knot. If you do not do the improved part just right, it is more likely to fail. I do not put the end of the line through the second loop.

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  11. Mark Says:

    Excellent knot example! Using shoelaces with a neutral background color was a fantastic idea so as to see the example clearly.

  12. Robert Says:

    Palomar Knot

  13. tdog101 Says:


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