These days, with fly line factory welded loops, pre-looped tapered leaders, and slip-on braided loops, the nail knot seems nearly irrelevant to many of us. The loop to loop connection has grown to be the most popular connection of fly line to leader for most anglers.
Although it may not be your first choice, knowing how to tie a nail knot could save your fishing day should you blow your factory loop on your fly line, or need to fashion a loop onto your sink tip. For many of us, there is still a tube or knot tool rummaging around the bottom of our vest or pack should the need to tie a nail knot arise, but odds are we’ve forgotten how to use it.
The truth is, you don’t need a tool at all! Lighten your load, ditch the tool, and check out this super simple way to tie a nail knot without a tool:
Double over the first few inches of fly line.
With your leader, create a large loop as shown (loop the entire leader) so that both ends are facing in opposite directions. Make sure the butt section of the leader faces towards the reel end of the fly line and the tippet section of the leader extends past the end of the fly line.
While holding the leg (not the tag) of the leader loop, wrap the leader back over itself and both legs of fly line. Wrap back up the direction of the fly line in touching turns, approximately six wraps. Take care to pinch each wrap onto the fly line to avoid the leader from unraveling.
While holding the wraps tight onto the fly line with your left thumb and forefinger, pull the tippet end of the leader with your right hand until the loop is pulled all the way through. Take care not to pull too tight as the doubled over section of the fly line still needs to be removed.
While continuing to hold wraps onto the fly line, pull the doubled over section of the fly line out straight.
Position the knot towards the end of your fly line. Pull each end of leader on each side of the nail knot to tighten. Clip tag end of leader and fly line.
Tip: While tightening down the nail knot completely, try using your teeth to bite the very end of the fly line. This ensures the knot will not slip of the end of the fly line as you bind it down.