"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Tying Monofilament Fishing Lines
Copyright © 2005 by Bill Scifres

One of the best features of monofilament fishing line is the undeniable fact that it keeps the fisherman honest, not to mention teaching him/her to mind their manners when tying fishhooks or artificial lures on the tag end of fishing lines.

Take the case a few years after mono line bowed into this part of the world along with spinning tackle roughly half a century ago. 

My first spinning outfit was a seven-foot Shakespeare fiberglass rod with closed-face reel, and my first encounter with the “threadlining” concept of fishing was a walleye/northern pike lake in Ontario.

Bill “Feed Bag” Myers, a fellow employee of the editorial staff of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, and I had gone north together. You may have guessed that Feed Bag acquired his nickname honestly.

I don’t recall the name of the lake, but it was touted as a great lake for big northern pike and walleyes.

On our first encounter with the monsters of this lake--my first efforts with this new kind of fishing--I hooked a fish with an artificial lure and was embroiled in a great battle.

But not for long. Suddenly the rod straightened, and there was no pressure from the water.

“Wow!” I said. “That must have been a monster!”

Feed Bag concurred, both of us thinking the fish had broken the 8-pound-test line.

But when I reeled in the line to tie on another artificial lure, I noticed the end of the line was curiously curled, not straight like a broken line would be.

Minutes later, Feed Bag hooked a fish on his conventional bait-casting tackle and put it in the boat, my lost Pflueger Tandem Spinner still in the mouth of the two-poundish northern. There was no line attached to my lost lure in the mouth of this supposed monster. My knot had untied under the pressure of the fish.

It may seem strange that the “whopper” northern would take another artificial lure after being caught a few minutes earlier, but one time several years later (also on a Canadian Lake) I watched as Dan Gapen hooked and landed the same northern (a four or five-pounder) four times, as I recall. 

The point is, that anglers should take greater care in tying fish hooks or artificial lures on monofilament line.

There are many knots for tying fish hooks and artificial lures onto monofilament line, but the most-used knot is the improved clinch knot (a k a “the clinch knot”).

The brand name of monofilament lines doesn’t seem to make much difference in my success at tying knots. I have learned that if you tie the knot correctly, the knot will be snug and stay snug.

The mistake I have most often made in tying the improved clinch knot is not taking enough turns of the line in the initial stages of tying the knot. Generally, line manufacturers recommend five or six turns of the line before running the tag end of the line back through the loop just ahead of the eye of the lure, then back through the big loop this creates. The knot is then snugged by pulling on the tag end of the line and scooting the knot flush against the eye of the lure.

I have no evidence that more turns of the line will damage the line, but I have always thought this to be so. Incidentally, before snugging up the knot, I dampen the affected part of the line by placing the knot in my mouth.

Line manufacturers also say fewer turns (say four) will create a good knot with heavier lines, but I would hesitate to use fewer turns.

Manufacturers also recommend snugging knots in heavy lines by grasping the tag end of the line with pliers.

A crucial point in tying a knot comes as the knot is being snugged and positioned against the eye of the lure. This should be done slowly, but forcefully. Then the knot should be tested against steady, hard pressure.

On another day and another lake many years later, the curly end of a fishing line made me look like a seer of some magnitude.

I was fishing Monroe Reservoir in its crazy, bass-filled days of the late ‘60s with the late Tom Weddle, then fish and wildlife manager of the lake, and the late Bill Madden, then supervisor of northern properties of the then Division of Fish and Game.

Madden flipped a blue plastic worm into an inundated brush pile and had a smashing strike. He set the hook very hard, but everything went limp.

Madden reckoned that the bass that broke his line would have weighed at least six pounds.

I said nothing, but when I noticed a curl in the end of his line, I opined that the fish probably was no heftier than a couple of pounds. I further noted that I would catch the fish to prove it.

I cast a Lutz Boomerang (a jig-type lure) to the spot and it was nailed unceremoniously.

Horsing the two-poundish bass in, I brashly announced that I had caught Bill’s “monster,” and that I would prove it by recovering his blue worm when I “cleaned” the fish. I have checked stomach contents of every fish I have cleaned for many years.

A few days later, I mailed Bill’s blue worm back to him, courtesy of the curly end of a “broken” line.

Click on thumbnail image for enlarged view.

knot.jpg (24232 bytes)
This line drawing taken from an old brochure on knots published by Stren fishing lines, then a satellite of Remington Arms Company, well depicts the procedure for tying an improved clinch knot.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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