Two Good Knots for Building Saltwater Leaders


Use Surgeons or Blood Knots for Tying Your Leaders

Many club members participated in the leader-building clinic at last year's March meeting where we used two knots—the blood knot and the surgeons knot—to tie up some leaders for last year’s spring fishing.  For those who were not able to attend (and anyone else interested in learning these two excellent knots for joining similar-sized or different-sized strands of monofilament), here are the step-by-step instructions for tying them both.

Surgeons Knot

The surgeons knot is extremely easy to tie—it is essentially a simple overhand knot with two or three turns instead of the single turn used in the plain overhand tie. Use the two-turn version (shown below) for joining monofilament in sizes from 60lbs to 25lbs; use the three-turn version (simply add to the steps below one more turn of the tag end going through the loop) for smaller sizes such as tying on 20 and 15lb tippets.


 Simply overlap the two segments of leader material and make a loop with them.


 Insert the tag end and running line of one set (here the right hand set) completely

through the loop forming an overhand knot in them but leave it loose.


 Then take one more turn with the same tag and running line set (here again, the right

hand set) through the overhand loop and pull all four segments tight after lubricating.


Blood Knot

The blood knot is a bit more symmetrical and cleaner than the surgeons knot and it tends to keep the leader junctions straighter, but it is a little more complicated to tie.  To achieve maximum knot strength, you should vary the number of turns you make with the tag ends as spelled out in the tying steps below.


Overlap two leader segments (red & green) of leader material and begin winding the tag
end of the left (red) segment  around the right (green) segment’s
running line.


Continue winding the right (red) segment’s tag around the left (green) segment’s

running line until you have reached a total of X turns around it and bring the red tag back around the turns into the crotch formed by the

red running line and the tag end of the green line. (X = 3 for >25lb mono;

X = 4 for 15 to 24lb mono; X = 5 for 9 to 14lb mono,

and X = 6 for 8lb or less mono.)


Then hold the red tag in the crotch and wind the green tag  X times around the left (red) segment’s

running line. Now bring the green tag back around the turns and insert it into the hole in the middle so it is pointed opposite the direction of the red tag. Pull

the tags to snug up, then moisten and tighten by tugging on both running lines

and tags. (X = 3 for >25lb mono; X = 4 for 15 to 24lb mono; X = 5 for 9

to 14lb mono, and X = 6 for 8lb or less mono.)

--Dick Brown