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August 07, 2006

Conclusions and Revelations

Conclusions and Revelations

At the Breaking Point / Going for Broke / Braid Knots / Results / Conclusions

Data shown in the charts leads me to several conclusions:

• If you don't need to tie your line directly to a mono leader, tie a simple twice-through palomar from a double line to tackle or (for a leader) to a swivel. When I tested this knot with 20-pound braid, the result was an average break of virtually 100 percent, the single strongest knot in this group.

• Other than that, the strongest knot was the venerable Bimini twist, either a 12- or 20-turn. (See "The Counterintuitive Bimini" for further information on this.) This creates a double line, which, versus a single main line, is by far the strongest way to connect directly to a mono or fluorocarbon leader. Other knots tested to tie directly to terminal gear just didn't cut it.

• The "90% Spectra Knot" (so named on various websites touting it) isn't - not even close. (But here's some pretty cool irony: One of these sites boasts of this knot, "When you are finished you should have ... a 70%-strength braided-line knot.")

• To tie a double line to a mono leader, the Yucatan (a.k.a. no-name or bristol) knot is the clear choice with 10 to 12 wraps offering a decided edge over fewer wraps (with somewhat stronger results in 50- versus 20-pound). A surgeon's knot tied with a double line can provide nearly as much strength, though the result is not as neat nor does it have a footprint as tiny as the Yucatan's. (Note: this knot can be tied by looping the the leader around the double line either going up away from the bottom of the double-line loop or starting up above the loop and wrapping down toward it. Per the illustration, I tie - and tested it - the latter.)

• To splice braid to braid: Just say no. I won't do it again except in the direst circumstances. When too little line remains on the spool for my taste, I'll simply spool up again. Even with a double-to-double-line splice, I couldn't get better than 59 percent with 20-pound and 63 percent with 50-pound. Unis and even more so blood knots tended to slip out before breaking.


Discovered! The Counterintuitive 12-Turn Bimini

You just can't do enough turns with superbraid: It's slippery stuff that likes to cut into itself. I'd long heard that a standard 20- or 25-turn Bimini won't do with braid and that another 20 turns at the very minimum would help hold the knot. Heck, I often tied 60 turns. Hey, the more wraps the merrier, right?


Much to my astonishment, I found that taking more turns actually weakens the knot. And not just a little bit: The 40- and 60-turn knots broke repeatedly at roughly a third of the line's actual strength, rating these among the poorest I tied. The knots proved marginally stronger if I doubled the line, then tied these many-wrap Biminis, ending up with eight tag ends and a great-looking but not very strong knot. Compare the 27- to 38-percent strength of 40- to 60-turn Biminis with the 80-percent strength, or thereabouts, of 20-turn knots.

That very comparison led me to wonder about going the other direction. That is, if a 20-turn knot outperforms a 60-turn knot, what about say just 12 turns?

The result astounded me -  so much that I went back to IGFA to do some quick retesting in the limited time I had. Same outcome: The 12-turn Bimini twist time and again either held its own against the 20-turn or more often actually outperformed it! In 20-pound Fireline the results were nearly identical at 80 and 81 percent (pretty good for a superbraid). In 50-pound PowerPro, the 77-percent 20-turn Bimini paled next to an 88-percent 12-turn Bimini.

At that point, still fascinated but late in the game with time growing short, I decided I had to try mono. I had a spool of 30-pound Stren Hi-Impact mono (45.1-pound break, dry) with me and quickly knocked out five tests. (I can tie a basic 20-turn Bimini in short order; another benefit of the 12-turn - it's even quicker.) Not even close: the 20-turn came out just about 70 percent, but the 12-turn broke at 101 percent! The other line on hand was 14-pound Sufix Siege (21.5-pound break, dry), which tested at 90 percent with a 20-turn knot while tied with only 12 turns it tested at 96 percent. I also tested a few more 20-pound braids; the results showed the same basic pattern.

Can you guess how many turns I'll be tying in my Bimini twists, at least in light- to medium-line-class braids and monos, in the future?

The author wants to offer special thanks to IGFA ( for graciously handing over to him the use of the Instron line tester for three very long days and a bit more.



At the Breaking Point / Going for Broke / Braid Knots / Results / Conclusions