An angler pointing out the tag end of fishing line for tying fishing knots

When starting out fishing, one of the important skills to learn is how to tie fishing knots. Knot tying is not hard, it just requires some practice. There are many types of knots for different purposes like loop knots, line joining knots, and knots for tackle. Knots can be used to join your main line to a leader, or a lure or swivel to your line.

Here are some of the best fishing knot tips to know as a beginner:

  • Practice. Take a length of fishing line, a hook with the point cut off or buried into a cork, and practice. Practice until you can tie each knot correctly.
  • Knot tying is best learned with monofilament fishing line. Braided lines are very slippery and limp which can make tying some types of fishing knots difficult at first.
  • When you're learning how to tie a fishing knot, the "tag end" (sometimes called the "working end") is the end of the line used to tie the knot. The "standing end" is that part of the line coming from your fishing reel.
  • Line is cheap. Always leave a foot or more of the tag end for tying knots so that you can tie them properly.
  • Pull all ends when tightening the knot. With some fishing knots this will be only the standing end and tag end; with other knots it might be three or four ends.
  • Always wet your knots with saliva as you pull them tight. This prevents damage to the line and allows the knot to pull tight.
  • Trim knots closely with a nail clipper. A good knot, pulled tight, will not come loose. Close trimming prevents the knot from catching snags or weeds. Do not burn the tag end—heat damages the line and knot.
  • Replace your line and retie your knots and rigs at least every year.

What is Breaking Strength as it Relates to Fishing Knots?

When learning how to tie fishing knots, you may see knots referred to with their percentage of breaking strength listed. The breaking strength of a line is the amount of weight or force it takes before it breaks. Fishing line loses some of its breaking strength when it is tied in a knot. Most of the knots presented here are high-percentage knots, which means they weaken the line by a minimal amount.

Knot Tying Instructions

Some fishing knots are simple to tie, while others are more complicated. If you are just learning how to fish, first learn some of the easy knots for hooks, lures and rigs. As you grow your fishing skills, consider also taking on some more intermediate or advanced knot tying.

Arbor Knot (Skill Level - Easy)

An illustration of the knot tying instructions for the arbor knot

The arbor knot is used to tie new line to the reel. It's easy to learn and it doesn't have to be that strong. It is a best fishing knot to try tying first as you will need to add line to your reel before you can fish.

Step by Step Instructions for Arbor Knot:

  1. Run the line around the spool hub or arbor. If you are spooling with braid, you’ll need some arbor tape to wrap around the spool to increase the friction, and you’ll want to take a few extra wraps around the spool.
  2. Take the tag end around the standing part of the line and tie an ordinary, everyday, overhand knot.
  3. Tie a second overhand knot in the tag end as close as possible to the first one.
  4. Pull on the standing part of the line and jam the two knots together against the spool of your reel.

Now that you have the line on your reel you are ready to learn how to tie hooks, swivels and lures with the other fishing knots.