Fly Fishing



Tackle Assembly

Learning to Cast

The Flies of Fly Fishing

Lefty's Tips



   In order to cast and fish effectively using a fly rod, it is important to connect all the different lines together properly (see figure 1 below). Fly fishermen use special easy-to-tie knots (described below) that are strong and smooth so they will pass through the rod guides easily. Learning to assemble your tackle properly is an important part of learning to fly fish. There are five different connections that must be made:
  1. Fly line backing to fly reel
  2. Fly line backing to fly line
  3. Fly line to leader butt
  4. Leader butt to tippet
  5. Tippet to fly
   You will need scissors, fingernail clippers, and Pliobond (or flexible waterproof cement, available at fly shops) to complete the different knots. Tie all your knots (except the last one) with the reel attached to the rod and the line threaded through the first guide. The tippet to fly knot must be tied with the line threaded through all reel guides.

Fly Fishing Knots

Figure 2
Fly Line Backing to Reel
The Uni-Knot

1. Thread the backing around the spool of your reel, making sure the backing is inside the line guard of the reel. Pull the backing through 8 to 12 inches.

2. Form a large loop as shown with the tag end of the backing .

3. Make the tag roughly 6 to 8 inches for the wraps.

4. Make five wraps through the loop and backing as shown.

5. Pull the tag end gently, cinching up the knot carefully.

6. Once the knot is tight, pull hard on it and the loop will tighten up against the spool. Clip the excess line. Make sure the loop is tight against the spool. Wind the backing onto the spool.

Figure 3
Backing to Fly Line
The Uni-Knot

1. Lay 10" of backing alongside the end of the fly line as shown (Note: make sure to use the end of the fly line with the tag that says, "Attach this end to backing".)

2. Form a 2 inch loop.

3. Keep 5 to 6" of backing to make your wraps.

4. Carefully make 5 wraps over the fly line and through the loop.

5. Grasp the fly line wraps, then gently pull the backing to close the slack in the loop. Don't allow the knot to slip off the end of the fly line.

6. Tighten the knot, pulling on the tag end of the backing to cinch it to the fly line. Keep the wraps close together, but not overlapping.

7. Trim the excess backing and fly line, then coat the connection with Pliobond to make it strong and smooth. Wind the fly line onto the reel.

Figure 4
Leader Butt to Fly Line
The Uni-Knot

1. Lay 8" of leader next to the end of the fly line, then form a loop next to the fly line as shown.

2. Holding the fly line and loop firmly, make four close-spaced wraps around the fly line and loop, wrapping away from the fly line tip.

3. Keeping the wraps held in place, carefully pull on the leader and tighten the knot. Keep the wraps close together, but not overlapping.

4. Once the knot is snug, give it one extra-hard pull to really "set" the knot. Then trim the excess line to form a smooth connection. If desired, coat with Pliobond.

Figure 5
Leader to Tippet
The Surgeon's Knot

1. The end of your leader is called a tippet. To connect your leader to the tippet, start by laying them side-by-side, overlapping about 5 to 7".

2. Form a 2" diameter common loop as shown.

3. Pass the tips of both ends throught the loops again.

4. Cinch the knot together by alternately pulling on the leader end and the tippet end gently. Wet the lines to reduce the friction if needed. Pull on all four lines to make the final cinch on the knot, then trim the excess as shown.

Figure 6
Tippet to Fly
Improved Cinch Knot

1. Thread the tippet through the eye of the hook, pulling 4 to 6" of line.

2. Holding the fly in one hand and the tippet in the other, twist the fly 4 to 5 times, forming wraps in the leader as shown.

3. Take the tag end of the tippet, pass it through the loop formed by the tag end and the twisted standing part, then pass the tag through the loop as shown.

4. Gently pull on the tag end, cinching the knot tight. Clip the excess line.