HOW IT WORKED
Here in brief is how our first-ever Sport Fishing reader knot challenge worked:
In the November/December 2009 issue, we threw down the gauntlet to readers who believed their favorite knot for connecting a braid main line to a fluoro or mono leader to be strong enough to come out on top in a great line-test smack-down using the International Game Fish Association's six-figure Instron line-testing machine.
As promised, we honored the first 50 requests we received via e-mail (out of hundreds from all over the United States that continued to filter in even many weeks after the announcement) by shipping out about 30 feet of 30pound Sufix Performance Braid and 30 feet of 50-pound Yo-Zuri H.D. Carbon "disappearing pink" fluorocarbon leader. (The orange color of the Sufix braid would help discourage any substitutions; in fact, though I had line calipers handy to verify, I felt no need to use them since it seemed obvious that all entrants had returned knots tied with the materials they'd been sent.)
A quick disclaimer here: This test was all about what might be called "medium-strength" braid and leader. That is, such a test might provide far different results if tying 80-pound braid to 150-pound mono - or 10pound braid to 30pound mono. Perhaps those situations will provide the basis for future knot challenges.
Each contestant was required to fill out a form with a bit of information about himself and more about his knot. Knots could be entirely original or old standbys. They could use a superglue or not. Bottom line was simple enough: to give readers (and editors) a better idea about which knots in this specific application will produce the strongest possible connection.
As noted, all testing was conducted at the IGFA (and my hearty thanks to Jason Schratwieser, Becky Wright and others who have always gone above and beyond to accommodate such testing), much the same as it conducts its line tests. Each contestant was required to submit three samples of the same knot; thus, the mean break in the chart represents the average of three tests. Rather than quantify the standard deviation, I've chosen simply to note whether the variance among the three tests was low, medium or high. Obviously, the lower the variance, the better, at least in stronger knots (in weaker knots, variance may be the least of one's concerns).