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How to tie basic fly-fishing knots

Fly fishermen depend on knots and must know how to tie several different knots properly. A badly or improperly tied knot will result in lost fish and great frustration for the angler.

Click on the knots to find out how to tie them.



Use the Turtle knot (or Turle knot) to make a straight connection between the fly and the leader.


1. Pass the end of the leader through the fly’s (or hook’s) eye from the front, as shown, and slide the fly up the leader so that it will be out of the way.

2. Make a loop with a slipknot in the end of the leader.

3. Pull the loop over and around the fly, bringing the free end around twice, like a double overhand knot, and tighten.

4. Pull the leader and wrap the loop around the back of the hook’s eye as shown, tighten, and trim the end.


A double surgeon’s loop can be used to add a tippet to the leader. For loop-to-loop connections, the double surgeon’s loop is the easiest knot to use because it is easy to tie.



Use the nail knot to tie fly line to the backing or to attach a leader to a line. This knot works well for tying together monofilament of different diameters. If you don’t have a nail handy, use a substitute such as a thin tube.


1. Hold the nail along the fly line and backing between your thumb and forefinger.

2. Lay a loop of line along the nail and, with the free end, wind the monofilament around the nail, loop, and leader about six times. Pull on both sides of the line to tighten, making a smooth knot.

3. Hold the “coils” carefully between your thumb and forefinger, remove the nail, and tighten the knot all the way.


Use a backing knot to attach the backing to the spool.


33 Comments on How to tie basic fly-fishing knots

  1. Thank you for writing about basic fly-fishing knots. I like fly-fishing, and have all my own gear. My tackle box has flies that I have brought and tied myself. I do get really frustrated when I lose a fly and/or a fish. The biggest frustration is when it was my fault for not tying the knot correctly or using the wrong knot.

  2. I am 83 have not Ben fishing for about 5 years forget my knots good refresher course * silver streak’

  3. Very good illustration on basic fly tying knots for fly fishing!

  4. I’m knot getting it.😟

  5. Don’t get a cheap fly rod.
    They’re useless. Get a sage. It’s an investment but it’s worth it.

  6. fish hammer // March 29, 2015 at 8:44 pm // Reply


  7. fish hammer // March 29, 2015 at 8:42 pm // Reply

    this is great for someone that is just beginingto start flyfishing

  8. As an old Eagle Scout and father of three Eagle Scouts I enjoy reading Boys’ Life. Keep up the good work!

  9. ..................... // August 10, 2013 at 4:33 am // Reply


  10. that is totaly awsome

  11. I found it informative. Thankyou all.

  12. This is very interesting, but fairly useless (but the inforation I agree is valuable and fascinating). But useless because if hand washing washes the need to justify a way.

  13. Not to bad

  14. I think it was a great ider

  15. I thought it was “Turle” not “Turtle”

  16. really just starting out,this really helps

  17. wow

  18. master angler 21 // January 2, 2009 at 11:35 pm // Reply

    these are awsome tips

  19. This is a good digram of the nail knot ,,,but when tying leader to fly line take a needle or dubbing needle works best and make a hole in the center of your fly line and go in about an 1/4 inch deep and back out the side and then tye the nail knot on the line ,use a dab of head cement to seal and this will give you a straight runoff from your fly line to the leader.

  20. you can get a fly rod at walmart for 20 bucks

  21. yoshicomand // March 24, 2008 at 5:47 pm // Reply

    thanks for the help, i really needed some basic knowledge before i went out to catch a big peacock bass

  22. how loung should your leader be

  23. do you need tippet?

  24. where can I git a cheap fly rod

  25. Thanks this really helps me out; I had forgotten all the necessary knots and was worried about having a hard time finding them, but not any more.

  26. paintballer 22 // November 18, 2007 at 7:09 pm // Reply

    Thanks I could never tie a knot!But I always flyfish

  27. little eagle // October 15, 2007 at 7:18 pm // Reply


  28. nice but I’d like to see annimated how to tie knots to down load so I can teach it to my den

  29. awsomb

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