Strongest Fishing Knots Connecting Braid to Leader | Sport Fishing Magazine

Strongest Fishing Knots Connecting Braid to Leader

In Sport Fishing’s fourth reader knot challenge, 53 knots competed to win top honors. See which knots won and how to tie them.

Giant tarpon tests a kayak angler in the darkness

The moment of truth! The knot visible here connecting blue braided line to the clear fluoro leader is really put to the test in this endgame with a very large tarpon.

Ross Gallagher

As the use of braided line becomes more and more popular, the importance of knots used to connect braid to a length of mono or fluorocarbon leader takes on greater significance. Most anglers choose to use a leader with braid, but based on the results of this challenge, it would seem that many are losing 30, 40 and even more than 50 percent of the braid’s breaking strength at that knot. On the other hand, some knots retain 90 to 100 percent of the braid’s strength.

The fundamental purpose of this knot challenge is to share with Sport Fishing enthusiasts which knots are the strongest and how they are tied.

Quepos fishing knot connects braid to mono

One of the knots submitted for testing. The Quepos knot shown here is a beautiful knot, but how strong was it in our tests? Read on to find out.

Zach Stovall

How we Tested 53 Fishing Knots — Methodology

Before we look more closely at the winning knots, here’s how the challenge worked.

Those who answered our call for participants could enter in either the light-braid category (15-pound braid to 30-pound fluoro leader) or the heavy-braid category (50-pound braid to 80-pound fluoro), or both. All were sent the same braid and leader so everyone would be working with the same materials.

Specifically, entrants used Spiderwire Stealth Blue Camo Braid in 15-pound-test and Spiderwire Stealth Glow-Vis Braid in 50-pound-test as their main line, tying to Berkley ProSpec fluorocarbon leader in 30-pound and 80-pound, respectively.

The 15-pound Spiderwire braid actually broke at 34.4 pounds, on average; the 50-pound Spiderwire broke at 62.8 pounds. That means knots would have had to break at 34.4 and 62.8 pounds to achieve 100 percent strength.

Testing fishing knots at the IGFA

All testing was performed on the International Game Fish Association’s Instron 5543 electromechanical tension tester, which IGFA uses to determine the strength of lines submitted with world-record applications.

Adrian E. Gray

Keep in mind the bottom-line goal of this challenge: Determine the strongest possible knots to connect braid to leader. Given that objective, there were few restrictions. Some tied a double line in the braid, some did not. A few applied glue to their knots. Whatever worked was fair game, as we can all benefit from that knowledge.

Those who elected to tie a double line (most often with a Bimini twist) then had two knots to test; they were submitting a “knot system,” if you will.

It was essential to determine which of the two knots tested weaker; that registered as the “weak link” in their system, and that knot was the one that would determine the strength of their method of connecting braid to leader. (In some cases, the weaker knot was the Bimini twist; in other cases, the knot connecting the doubled braid to the leader proved weaker.)

Each entrant submitted three samples of the same knot, so the strength measured represents the mean of the three break tests.

Extreme closeup of a Bimini Twist fishing knot

Bimini Twist

Zach Stovall

Which Knots Proved Strongest — Results

As the charts you'll see a bit farther down show, the strength of these knots was pretty much all over the place, from 100 percent to as little as about 17 percent.

For lighter braid (15-pound tied to 30-pound fluoro), here are the three strongest knots, in order.

PR Bobbin Knot — 84.3 percent

Tied by Capt. Bryan Dietz of Merritt Island, Florida

The PR bobbin knot scored high for connecting light braid line to fluorocarbon leader

PR bobbin knot, connecting 15-pound braid to fluoro leader

Zach Stovall

WATCH BRYAN DIETZ TIE THE PR BOBBIN KNOT

Improved FG Knot — 80.9 percent

Tied by Capt. Tim Simos of Fort Pierce, Florida

An improved FG knot connecting braided fishing line to leader

Improved FG knot, connecting 15-pound braid to fluoro leader

Zach Stovall

FG knot — 73.4 percent

Tied by Ralph Green of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

An FG knot connecting braided fishing line to leader

FG knot, connecting 15-pound braid to fluoro leader

Zach Stovall

For heavier braid (50-pound tied to 80-pound fluoro), here are the three strongest knots, in order.

GT Knot — 100 percent

Tied by Chad Nisely of Painesville, Ohio

An GT knot connecting braided fishing line to leader

GT knot, connecting 50-pound braid to fluoro leader

Zach Stovall

PR Bobbin Knot — 99.5 percent

Tied by Bryan Dietz of Merritt Island, Florida

A PR Bobbin knot connecting braided fishing line to leader

PR bobbin knot, connecting 50-pound braid to fluoro leader

Zach Stovall

Improved Bristol Knot — 92.1 percent

Tied by Doug Olander of Winter Park, Florida

An improved bristol knot connecting braided fishing line to leader

Improved bristol knot, connecting 50-pound braid to fluoro leader
(Despite my placement among the top three finalists in the heavy-braid category, being author and editor disqualifies me for any material benefit, so the reel from Okuma for third place goes to Capt. Tim Simos for his FG knot, below.)

Zach Stovall

Improved FG Knot — 82.1 percent

Tied by Capt. Tim Simos of Fort Pierce, Florida

An improved FG knot connecting braided fishing line to leader

Improved FG Knot, connecting 50-pound braid to fluoro leader

Zach Stovall

okuma

The six winners for the knots above will receive a new Okuma reel valued at up to $249 for second- and third-place finishers and up to $799 for finishing first.

Strongest Fishing Knots — Results for All Knots Submitted in the Light-Braid Category

Best fishing knots to connect light braid to leader

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Sport Fishing magazine

Strongest Fishing Knots — Results for All Knots Submitted in the Heavy-Braid Category

Best fishing knots to connect heavy braid to leader

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Sport Fishing magazine

Strongest Fishing Knots — Conclusions and Considerations

  • Knot-tiers are becoming more sophisticated, at least based on comparison to a similar Sport Fishing knot challenge several years ago. Most of the winning knots here aren’t simple or quickly tied (many best tied the evening before a fishing trip rather than on the water in a hurry in rough seas), but the results speak for themselves.
A Stellwagen wrap knot connecting braided fishing line to leader

This impressive-looking fishing knot is called a Stellwagen wrap, connecting 50-pound braid to fluoro leader.

Zach Stovall

  • Another change from the previous knot challenge is the prevalence of single-line knots among better entries. That is, years ago, most of the strongest knots tested were formed from a double line made with a Bimini twist, such as a Bristol (aka Yucatan or no-name knot). This year, only one such knot scored among the best. All other top knots tie the single-strand main line directly to the leader. Also, it should be noted that the time some anglers took to tie elaborate knots connecting doubled braid to leader wasn’t effectively spent since (as the chart reveals) their Bimini twists broke first.
A Bimini twist knot connecting braided fishing line to leader

A Bimini twist tied in the 50-pound braided line creates a loop which is then used to connect to the heavier fluorocarbon leader.

Zach Stovall

  • It seems that tying knots approaching 100-percent strength might be inherently more difficult with lighter braided line. The percentages of the two best results with 15-pound braid were in the lower 80s, while three entries with 50-pound braid tested between 92 and 100 percent. (Two knots finished among the top three in both light- and heavy-braid categories, but tested weaker with the lighter braid).
  • It’s not just the knot; how it’s tied is strategic. That is, in some cases, very similar or even the same knots tied by different entrants tested far differently, suggesting slight variations in how they were tied could make a considerable difference.
A pair of Albright knots connecting braided fishing line to leader

Two Albright knots from different entrants; nuances in tying the same knot can account for strength varying tremendously.

Zach Stovall

  • Albrights and double-uni knots are very popular — but are they the best knots? One result consistent in this challenge a few years ago and this year was that Albright and uni knots to connect braid to leader scored pretty low. Lots of anglers — and pros — swear by them, and certainly, a knot you can tie efficiently, with lots of confidence, is important. But the Instron tester suggests anglers can do better.
A double uni knot connecting braided fishing line to leader

A double uni knot connecting 15-pound braided line to fluoro leader

Zach Stovall

STRONGEST FISHING KNOTS — HOW IT'S DONE

THE PR BOBBIN KNOT

How to tie a PR bobbin knot

The bobbin knot requires that piece of hardware (a bobbin) and a bit of time but creates a beautiful knot. Best tied at home, at one's leisure.

Andy Steer / anglingknots.com

STRONGEST FISHING KNOTS — HOW IT'S DONE

IMPROVED FG KNOT

How to tie an improved FG knot connecting braided fishing line to leader

An improved version of the increasingly popular FG knot that definitely take some time to tie, but the FG is widely recognized as one of the strongest and smallest-footprint of knots connecting braid to leader.

Andy Steer / anglingknots.com

STRONGEST FISHING KNOTS — HOW IT’S DONE

GT KNOT

An GT knot connecting braided fishing line to leader

This GT knot snapped at 100 percent of the line's breaking point, indicating zero loss of strength at the knot.

Andy Steer / anglingknots.com

STRONGEST FISHING KNOTS — HOW IT’S DONE

IMPROVED BRISTOL KNOT

How to tie an improved bristol knot connecting braided fishing line to leader

While not quite 100 percent, the 92-percent bristol can be tied on a rocking boat in about 30 seconds (once you've tied a Bimini loop).

Andy Steer / anglingknots.com

Strongest Fishing Knots — 25 Top Skippers’ Favorite Knots

I asked these charter captains and guides how they choose to connect a braid main line to a fluoro or mono leader. Here’s what they said:

Rich Adler (Singer Island, Florida, tunawahoo.com)
Albright for light braid, FG for heavy braid Comment: Albright is fast; never had one fail.

Antonio “Tuba” Amaral (Canavieiras, Brazil; facebook.com/antonio.amaral.507)
Bobbin knot

Richard Andrews (North Carolina; tarpamguide.com)
Double uni for light braid. For heavy braid, Bristol, with a spider hitch to create a loop in the braid.

David Bacon (Santa Barbara, California; wavewalker.com)
Reverse Albright
Comment: We have tried many other knots, but we always come back to the reverse Albright.

Kevin Beach (Venice, Louisiana; mgfishing.com)
Modified reverse Albright

Mark Bennett (Englewood, Florida; tarponsnook.com)
Double uni, with a spider hitch to create a loop in the braid
Comment: I find the spider hitch [with braid] tends to hold up better than a Bimini.

Brian Clancy (Oak Hill, Florida; mosquitolagoonfishcamp.com)
Double uni

Rob Delph (Key West, Florida; wefishkeywest.com)
FG and modified slim beauty
Comment: FG is the strongest, best knot.

Brent Gaskill (Gulfport, Florida; summervacationcharters.com)
Bristol (Yucatan), with a five-turn overhand knot to create a loop in the braid

Paul Hobby (Ft. Myers, Florida; fishinghobby.com)
Double uni, first doubling the braid

Ned Kittredge (Dartmouth, Massachusetts; watchoutfish.com)
Double uni

Dave Kostyo (Miami, Florida; knotnancy.com)
Single uni and clinch knot, with a Bimini twist to create a loop in the braid

Damon McKnight (Venice, Louisiana; superstrikecharters.com)
Double uni
Comment: I’ve caught everything from 3-pound redfish to 500-pound blue marlin using this connection; I can tie it quickly, and it works every time. Also, I like it because if you don’t tie it correctly, it’s obvious.

John McMurray (New York, New York; nycflyfishing.com)
Blood knot for lighter braid (first doubling the braid); slim beauty for heavier braid

Rick Murphy (Florida City, Florida; sportsmansadventures.com)
Double uni, with a Bimini twist to create a loop in the braid

Tony Murphy (Key West, Florida; keylimey.com)
Blood knot for lighter braid; Albright for heavier

Tommy Pellegrin (Houma, Louisiana; customchartersllc.com)
Albright

Jason Pipe (Canary Islands; bluemarlingomera.com)
FG
Comment: A Japanese client showed this to me in 2004, and I’ve used it ever since.

Mike Roy (Old Saybrook, Connecticut; reelcastcharters.com)
FG (at home) or double uni (on the water, first doubling the braid)

Scott Simpson (Long Beach, Mississippi; captainscottsimpson.com)
Double uni

Bouncer Smith (Miami, Florida; captbouncer.com)
Double uni

Jason Stock (Holmes Beach, Florida; jmsnookykayakcharters.com)
Double uni or three surgeons for lighter braid; Bristol, with a Bimini twist to create a loop in the braid, for heavier braid)

William Toney (Homosassa, Florida; homosassainshorefishing.com)
Four to five surgeons for lighter braid; for heavier braid, same knot but using a Bimini twist to create a loop in the braid
Comments: It’s a quick, strong knot that gets my clients back to fishing. I’ve never had this knot fail.

Tom Van Horn (Chuluota, Florida; irl-fishing.com)
Double uni, using a Bimini twist to create a loop in the braid

Steve Zernia (Seward, Alaska; profish-n-sea.com)
Improved Albright, using a Bimini twist to create a loop in the braid

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