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

  1. caleb longley Says:

    this cite helped me so much with my english homework

  2. dean Says:

    palmor knot is better

  3. Curtis Says:

    Hey, dean, since you know all, what is a palmor knot? Is it realated to the palomar knot?

  4. nick Says:

    Hi Curtis,

    I don’t know it all. I just write about what I’ve learned and what I hope can help someone else.

    I’ve never heard of the “palmor” knot until now. After looking for it in some published knot books, I could find no mention of it, only the palomar. It seems that the palomar knot is commonly mistakenly referred to as “palmor,” “polamer,” and “polymer” knot. They are the same knot. But, the official name is palomar knot.

    Thanks for question, Curtis.


  5. Spelling Nazi Says:

    Hey Curtis,

    Is “realated” related to the word related? I’ve never heard of such a term, I guess I don’t know it all either, jackass.

  6. Mike Says:

    Well I see there is stress amoung fishing experts. As a vet I understand PTSD .
    all I know is one knotand put bait on a hook while trying to learn this fishing thing enough to catch a mess regularly. Hopefully before my next birthday.LOL
    I will now look up a palomar knot as it seems to be important . At least to know how to spell it.
    I will check back for round two.

  7. Johan Says:

    Hi Nick

    I just bought a reel for the first time, my fist question was: “How the hell do I tie the line to the reel. Luckily I came upon your website. This also answered my second question, tying the hooks and stuff.

    This was very helpful, thanks.

  8. YourOldDog Says:

    Ncik, tanhks for tkanig the tmie to do tihs for us rkooies. I hvae a lmieted eudaciton but had no pborelm fgiuirjg out waht you weer syanig. Unlike the smart asses who want to show their wit or abilitie at the expenses of others. Don’t worry about the occasional spelling. You write in what’s known as a conversational style and it reads just fine for me. I’m just getting back into fishing and am using your site for a refresher course., Take care and all the best.

  9. nick Says:

    Hi Ray,

    Thank you very much, Ray. I’m really happy that it’s helped you get back into fishing! Keep at it and pass it on.

  10. RB Says:


    I never have been any good at knots. Thank you for showing me the basic ones I need to be able to do and know where they are to be used.

    I’ve been having trouble with the arbor knot, and it looks to be so simple.

    Now I think I have it. I would describe it as tying an overhand knot in the tag line which captures the standing line, or tying an overhand knot in the tag line around the standing line, then another overhand knot in the tag line.

  11. Ultimatefightr Says:

    Thanks for taking the time to educate us. I’ve used your insights a number of times, and I am sure I will continue to do so. I am 43 and just now getting into ‘fishing’, primarily ’cause my 10 yr old seems to love it, but now I think its catching. I find I could really like it.

  12. James Says:

    Hey Nick
    I know absolutely nothing about fishing and am really excited about getting started but I have nobody to show me how. Your site is teaching me all the things that I would feel too stupid to ask about at the fishing shop. Don’t listen to all the sarcastic people on here mocking you. You’ve helped me a lot and I’m sure you’re helping others. Thanks!

  13. Nick is AWESOME Says:

    Yep ^
    Keep it up! Thanks for a great site!!! 😀

  14. margie Says:

    Thanks so much for the pictures of the improved clinch knot. I wasn’t sure I remembered how.

  15. Ken Says:

    Thanks for the great illustration of the arbor knot. I have been fishing for 10 years but never spooled my own reels. Now I know how thanks to this website. P.S. (and please feel free to e-mail me at my address): what knot do you recommend for tying lures, like a “Gotcha” for bluefish if using heavier line than 20 lb. ?

  16. Ian Says:

    As an absolute beginner I was searching for proper fishing knots, and how to attach line to the reel. Your site helped.
    Thank you. The pictures are great, and clearer than on some “professional” sites.

  17. Kevin Says:

    The Improved Clinch Knot can also be seen on the back of the Berkley Trilene Fishing string box.. They call it the Berkley Trilene power knot. I have found it to be a very strong hookset knot.

  18. Constructive Commenter Says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial!

  19. Cookie Says:

    Thank you for the information and clear pictures – my Dad was a fisherman and he died last year, before I could really grasp how clever he was with this type of thing. I am now trying to re-educate myself and my husband, so we can teach our kids how much fun fishing really is. Cheers.

  20. nick Says:

    So sorry about your Dad, but it’s great you can reconnect with his memory through fishing and pass that gift to your children as well. Thanks for commenting!

  21. Christian barden Says:

    I can not do the Arbor Knot

  22. nick Says:

    Practice, practice, practice. Practice everyday. Practice while you watch T.V.

    Remember to lubricate your line before you tighten it and don’t use your teeth. A pair of pliers might be helpful on heavier lines and don’t rush it. Keep practicing.

  23. Canuck Says:

    Thanks very much for this article, it is great for beginners like me who want to fish with the kids.

  24. Watto Says:


    Thanks so much, haven’t fished since I was a teenager (Now in my 30s) there was no way I could even remember half the stuff I was shown back then, these guys have prevented premature onset of grey hair from too much strain on the grey matter!

  25. ernie Says:

    I know this is old, but that’s a half blood knot.

  26. nick Says:

    Same knot. Different name.

  27. Diane Hunter Says:

    I was glad to see that my mother taught me to tie these knots so well. I was 4 years old when she taught me the clinch knot, and I never forgot it. I didn’t fish for YEARS, but recently went back to it, and now it’s hard to stay away from the water. I have 8 rods that I use in bottom fishing and one casting rod. I’m still relearning how to fish better, but I’ve caught quite a few LARGE fish. Thanks to my mom, and these knots.

  28. B-more ravens Says:

    This site was a great find. So many thanks to you.

  29. Jeff Blaine Says:

    Nick, RB is right in his comment above. The 1st overhand knot is in the tag line capturing the standing line. Consider going back to update the post, please? I was completely confused until I read his clarification of wording.

  30. Kimberly Yue Says:

    Just stumbled upon this blog and wanted to take a minute to thank you for all the time and effort you have put into this to help people with fishing. My family and I are going blind at this whole fishing thing, reading and watching videos to figure things out and try–your blog has been incredibly helpful in many areas. We have yet to land any fish, but are trying again this weekend–wish us luck!

  31. jojn Says:

    As a compleat noob
    I thank you for taking the time to explain
    All these knots and tips

  32. Brandon blankenbaker Says:

    Thank you so much for this article. My stepdad
    Use to take me bass fishin every summer in his
    Little green john boat at patoka lake. I never really
    Got out of fishin, just got into some trouble and
    Havent been able to go for a few years. The one
    Thing that for the life of me i could not remember
    Was how to string a reel. Now that i have read your
    Article i know how. Thanks again,

  33. BDub Says:

    Thanks for the arbor knot info. I have put off fishing because I never knew how to put line on my reel properly. Sad huh? Now I’m a Dad and want to teach my boys better. We caught 12 fish today and I feel more confident about fishing.

  34. ike Says:

    Ok, sorry, if you fish a lot, how the hell have you never heard of a PALOMAR knot? it’s the strongest knot there is.

    Palomar knot is far superior to both of these (for BRAIDED line)

    and its very easy to tie, even with cold hands.

  35. Dedi Says:

    Great site, I know a thing or two about fishing, this instructions really refreshing and could cure repeated mistakes that I’ve made. Especially the ‘saliva moisturizer tips. It really helped to avoid cracking line.
    Thanks a lot

  36. Gda?sk mieszkania Says:

    Hi, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just
    curious if you get a lot of spam comments? If so how do you stop
    it, any plugin or anything you can suggest? I get so much lately it’s driving me crazy so any help is very
    much appreciated.

  37. Mike E Says:


    I am rather new to fishing, I just started taking my boys last year, still learning lots. I have found you page very helpful, and I appreciate you taking the time to share you knowledge with those of us who don’t have anyone to ask. I have discovered that fishing has been the best treatment for my PTSD,and now that I was able to learn from you and others, I think I will be able to enjoy it even more. Maybe my kids may be able to learn something from me now. Thanks again and keep up the good work.

  38. Jackson aron Says:

    Thanks nick

  39. Severice Says:

    Knots are very controversial, every fisherman has their own favorites and they will use them until they die. End of story. If you’re interested in learning about fishing knots check out the Knot Wars app, and feel free to test your knots.

    Take some 10lb mono and tie a knot into a swivel. Then attach it to a fishing scale and start pulling. The scale will give you an idea of how much weight it took to break the line. Typically 10lb mono line breaks a little over 10lbs 11-12 at the high end. When the line breaks look at the ends, if the line is straight, it was the line that broke, if it’s curly it was the knot.

    In mono i beleive the improved clench knot breaks between 5-8lbs, while the palomer doesn’t. Also, remember, the knots you tie are effected by the line you use. Some knots like the clinch work better on mono then they do with braid or florocarbon.

  40. Doug Says:

    Thanks very much for the great knots especially the Arbor Knob for tieing the line to the reel.It is very generous of you to take the time to provide this information in easy to understand detail.

  41. jack Says:

    I’ve ben fishing for over 50 years…used different knots and the palomer knot is the easiest, quickest, and strongest. With any knot make sure you wet it with your saliva when drawing it to the hook or lure. By not wetting it you cause friction that weakens the line.

  42. Patty Says:

    Soo very helpful Nick…thank you for breaking every detail down so simple and basic. I have procrastinated for over a month now, bought all the equipment & even my license & been reading everything I could. Now, I feel some confidence because I actually understand, you made it clear to me. Plan on taking my 6 year old dghter out early in the morning. Who knows these two girls may hook something. 😉


  43. Cory Says:

    Hey Nick,
    Thanks for the help. I’m taking the kids fishing (Scouting has gotten them a little into it) and I’ve never been fishing (well, once when I was something like 10…that would be close enough to never). Anyway, I came upon your site and have been reading through it. Great information for a “noob” to start figuring things out. Much appreciated. :)

  44. neil Says:

    I’m a beginner.. this is a great site!!! Thank you for the valuable information!

  45. Paul Says:

    For those who mention taking kids fishing
    is what its all about.
    Teaching them a Palomar knot to me is
    a very good one as they are so simple.
    A bowline for rope and you have a pair
    of knots for a lifetime.

  46. Anti-morons Says:

    Too late, but who cares (I don’t).

    I’m here to learn about fishing, those who want to rant about spelling should just jump from a cliff to the sea… They could attrack some fish… Or stick a hook on a cheek, record a video of it and upload it to YouTube, for us to see, to everyone’s delight!

    Thank you for the website. It’s the best reference I’ve seen for noobs, according to Google standards… :)

  47. Fi Says:

    ok Ive read all the info, time for me to pack the car and take 12 year old daughter fishing, wish me luck

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  50. Derpster Says:

    I have one question
    I know how to do the improve clinch knot but the arbor knot is still hard for me I just want to know which line I pull on to tie the knot completely the one with the small knot in the end or the bottom one?

  51. 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.

  52. 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.

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