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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

Most of the readers who responded to our first-ever reader knot challenge last fall did so with remarkable self-assurance. They had found a knot to connect braided line to fluorocarbon or mono leader (a connection that's become a mainstay for many anglers) that would be hard to beat.

Most of those entrants are going to be pretty disappointed with their standings in the results.

Certainly, the three Sport Fishing readers tying the strongest knots won't be too ­disappointed since each of these top three gets a Reactor Watch valued at $200 to $600. But there's another reason to celebrate: Not only did their knot prove stronger than that of more than 40 other contestants, in the context of this particular knot test with these materials, their knots proved strong enough to do what they should do.

How our testing worked

Put another way, only those knots that tested out at 45 pounds or more were really doing the job; anything less, and anglers connecting braid to their leaders are creating a substantial handicap to their fishing. Here's why.

Before testing knots, the first order of business was determining the actual break strength of the 30-pound Sufix braid used in this challenge. Most SF readers are savvy enough to know that the strength stated on spools of braided line typically runs well below where the line actually breaks. No exception here: When tested straight, the 30-pound Sufix broke at an approximate average of 48 1/2 pounds (in five tests, with breaks ranging from 44 1/2 to 54 pounds).

This means if you tie a single-line knot (single strand of braid) to the fluoro leader, your knot must break at 48.5 pounds to be a 100 percent knot.

More about double lines

If you tie a double line to the leader, you then place the knot used (Bimini, spider hitch, surgeon's, etc.) between the single line and the leader, and you need to know the breaking strength of that knot. In this case, I tied some quick 12-turn Biminis and found they averaged about 45 pounds at the break point. Using that as a benchmark, with these materials, any knot connecting a double line to leader that breaks at 45pounds is 100 percent - relative to the Bimini.

Which Knot to Connect Braid to Mono?

Of the five strongest knots in this challenge, four were bristol knots. That speaks volumes.

More on bristol knots

Tim Simos' "improved FG" knot was the hands-down winner, fair and square. Anglers who want to put in the considerable time required to tie this one will know they're tying a super-strong knot. Still, as noted above, any knot that breaks far stronger than your Bimini twist is overkill since your line won't come close to breaking at your ultra-strong braid-leader connection; it will part long before that at your Bimini.

Learn to tie the improved FG knot

The Results:

30-POUND BRAID TO 50-POUND FLOURO

  Knot Mean Break* Braid Single or Doubled Variance Comments
           
1
Improved FG
58.4
D
L
May take up to 5 minutes or more to tie properly
2
Improved Bristol
49.5
D
L
5 to 7 turns up and 5 to 7 back down; takes less than a minute to tie
3
Bristol
49.2
D
M
10 to 13 turns
4
Bristol
42.7
D
L
11 turns
5
Bristol
40.9
D
H
14 turns (very long tag ends would be hard to cast through guides if desired)
6
Bimini/ Worm/Uni
39.6
D
M
Requires 5 minutes to tie
7
Albright
39
D
M
 
8
"Phil's Double End Loop Bristol"
39
D
H
Original variation
9
"Wampuscat Special"
39
D
M
Original; doubled braid connected to doubled leader (both tied with Bimini twists)
10
"Knot with Name Name" [sic]
35.8
D
H
The "Knot with Name Name" knot appeared to be a bristol; two of three samples broke in the 40s, but the third broke at 23 pounds
11
"Sebile"
33.8
S
H
Original; clearly strongest of all single-braid-to-leader knots tested; fairly involved process to tie
12
Bristol
29.8
D
H
Number turns not specified; appears to be about 7
13
"Bristol"
28.5
S
M
Note: somehow tied with single braid, so by definition not in fact a bristol
14
Double Uni
27.4
D
M
Braided line doubled; slipped noticeably under pressure
15
"My Version of the Slim Buety" [Beauty]
26.9
S
L
 
16
"Sebile"
26.7
S
L
"A Chinese finger-cuff knot that I found on the Internet"
17
Worm
26.3
D
H
 
18
Double Uni
25.8
S
M
8 turns with braid; 4 with turns mono
19
"Octopus Grasp"
24.7
S
M
Original; braid tied around doubled leader to produce the thickest, most impressive-looking knot tested
20
Double Uni
24.1
S
M
 
21
Albright
24.1
S
M
10 turns
22
"Lemire Modified Tony Pena"
24
S
M
 
23
Offshore Swivel Knot
24
D
H
From Bimini twist, a "king sling" knot creates two loops to which offshore knot is tied
24
Unspecified
23.9
D
H
 
25
Modified Red Phillips
23.6
S
H
 
26
Improved Albright
22.9
S
H
 
27
Improved Albright
22.8
S
M
 
28
Double Uni
22.6
S
L
 
29
Double Uni
22
S
M
6 turns with braid, 4 turns with leader
30
"Figure 81 Uni"
21.7
S
L
Original
31
"Six-Turn"
21.6
D
H
"I learned it from a skipper in Costa Rica"
32
Albright
21.6
S
M
Tied as shown in brochure from braid manufacturer
33
Double Uni
20.7
S
L
5 turns mono, 9 turns braid
34
Albright
20.6
S
M
 
35
"Jeff's Simple Twist Knot"
20.2
S
M
Arguably the most visually chaotic knot of any tested
36
Double Uni
20.1
S
H
 
37
Albright
19.7
S
L
 
38
"Tex's Twister"
19
S
H
 
39
"Fesic"
18.2
S
H
Original - "a combination of figure 9, square and improved clinch"
40
Unspecified
18.1
S
H
Single line
41
Albright
18
S
H
Double lock tied at bottom
42
"Locked Albright"
17.7
S
H
"Combination of an Albright and a palomar"
43
"Fisherman's Knot"
16.1
S
H
Difficult to tell by examining knot what it might be or how tied; 4- to 6-inch tag ends trimmed before testing
44
Carrick Bend
8.1
S
H
 
* rounded to nearest tenth