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August 19, 2010

Sport Fishing Knot Challenge

We tested 44 knots tied by readers to learn which braid-to-mono leader connection proved strongest

Back to Test Results page


Top shot sailfish fightBefore taking a closer look at those winning, 100 percent knots, consider the Test Results. One significant conclusion should jump out right away: Start by tying a double line using a good Bimini twist.

If you don't know how, find out. You can access sequential photos and instructional videos all over the Web, though if you can sit down with a buddy and mimic him actually tying a Bimini, that's the best way. Once you've got the knack, you should easily be able to tie a 12-turn Bimini in less than a minute.

The idea that tying a length of doubled braid (in a loop) to heavier mono leader would be stronger than a single strand seems rather obvious, yet - witness the knot challenge, with 28 of 44 entrants sticking with single strand - many don't bother. Not only did the majority of entrants tie a single line to the leader, but some top professionals and even several knot manufacturers advise never doubling the braid, insisting that Biminis in braid are not strong enough, may get in the way when casting and are a waste of time.

While that indeed may be the case, this testing simply didn't bear that out. Based on these results, it's worth the additional minute of your time: Of the top 10 knots, each one used a double line. All but one of the 20 weakest knots connected a single line to the leader. The strongest single-line knot tested only reached 58 percent of line strength; nearly all fell well below the 50 percent mark. That's a pretty heavy handicap.

Meanwhile, all of the top 10 ­(strongest) knots used a double line. They ranged from 74 percent to 120 percent of line strength.

While exceeding 100 percent may seem counterintuitive, keep in mind this is a doubled braid loop. Using a double line offers twice the surface area of braid to grip the leader. In any case, the purpose of this article is not to dispute single versus double line when connecting braid to leader, but simply to present the evidence shown by a ­dispassionate source, the Instron line tester.

However, there is one major caveat to all of this. If you tie a double line, you probably won't reach 100 percent of line strength since your Bimini (or spider hitch or surgeon's) knot will have some weakness. In this case, my Biminis broke at 45 pounds, which means if the knot I tie below the Bimini to connect to the leader is at least that strong, I'll end up with 93 percent of my braid's true strength - not bad (and of course that's 45 pounds for my "30pound" line). But only (the top) three knots tested managed to do this.

But I should note that I tested some of the double-line knots that entrants had tied to make their braid loop, out of curiosity, and many failed between 30 and 40 pounds. That meant no matter what knot they tied to connect to the leader and no matter now strong, they couldn't be fishing at more than about 60 to 80 percent of line strength. Again, that's a significant handicap. The moral of course is that tying a double line appears to be the best way to connect braid directly to heavier leader but only if your double-line knot is good enough to keep most of the line's tensile strength.