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
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
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
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
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.
on thumbnail image for enlarged view.
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.