The Last Link – wet a knot or not

by Tony Bishop on September 4, 2005

A very good article, actually a chapter from the book Fly Fish Betterby Art Scheck, on knots. Scheck describes some of the myths surrounding tying good knots, and covers the primary differences between most of the most-used knots, and when they should be used.

The chapter is very detailed in approach, and is a very worthwhile read. There is however something I take issue with in the chapter. Art Scheck goes in to all sorts of detail about knots and does many tests. But he states that knots must be moistened before tightening, and offers no evidence to support this claim – is he perpetuating a myth? Here is my view, from my bookFishing Even Smarter

To Wet The Knot Or Not?

One of the more enduring myths, sadly perpetuated in the fishing books, magazines and videos – still being published – is the ‘wet your knot’ myth.

When mono lines were first introduced, they were thick and stiff, for their breaking strain. The line surface was, by today’s standards, very rough. The stiffness and thickness of the line made pulling the loops of the knot up tight correctly difficult. Pulling up a knot built up friction and hence heat. Heat is a line killer. It reduces line strength markedly. Saliva proved to be an ideal lubricant.

Modern lines are more supple, and thinner for similar breaking strains. They form into knots much more easily. The surface of the line is very smooth, and has very little friction quotient. It is because modern lines are thinner and more supple, that you should not wet your knot.

The best method of tying a knot is to tie the knot carefully, ensuring there are no hidden line cross-overs. Then pull the knot up slowly but firmly, allowing the twists to form up properly. If you wet the knot there is a distinct danger of forming what is called a ‘liar knot’. A liar knot is a knot that has not formed properly. Saliva allows the twists and turns to slide over themselves. Deep within the knot a piece of line has crossed over another piece. This will act like a scythe when the knot is jerked tight.

An end to the ‘wet or not’ dilemma may be at hand. There is a rapidly expanding range of knot glues coming onto the market. These glues lubricate and coat the line within the knot, and then sets, to produce a knot that achieves very near 100% of the line breaking strain.

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