Tippet knot strength?

by Pete

Today's catch

Today's catch

Hi Folks,

I was just wondering if anyone had any advice about the best knot to attach tippet material to level line, specifically fluorocarbon lines.
Just to clarify... I'm pretty new to Tenkara. I fly fished a little in my teenage years but then got wrapped up in rock climbing, which shaped my life for 30+ years. Now fishing again and really enjoying it!

I'm UK based but also spend lots of time in Catalunya (north-east Spain) and some of the rivers here (Catalunya) harbour some pretty big wild brown trout.

I've been using a Daiwa Keiryu-X 42 (13' 8") rod together with Yamatoyo 3.5 Fluorocarbon level line and Yamatoyo 1.2 (5x/5lb?) tippet for my fishing in Catalunya.

The good news is that I've caught some really nice and incredibly combative (up to 16 inch) trout on this rig. The bad... repeated breakages at the tippet-to-level line knot with (apparently) bigger fish hooked. I use the standard figure of eight stop-knot on the level line and attach the tippet with a slip knot.

Today I replaced the Yamatoyo 1.2 tippet with Drennen sub-surface 6lb (4x?) and finally landed a wild brown in the 18-20 inch range. The Daiwa Keiryu X rods are not rated for anything above 5x (5lb) tippet but I was getting sick of the breakages and decided to risk it...

So, to get back to the point...knots. On Youtube I see tenkara enthusiasts bringing monster trout to the net on rods and lines rated lower than the stuff I'm using, so is it my knots or my technique?


Comments for Tippet knot strength?

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Mar 16, 2018
line / tippet knot
by: Chris Stewart

Just asked Rob Worthing, who catches larger fish than most tenkara anglers. He uses a Davy knot. I use a Double Davy (same knot with one extra "tuck").

The Yamatoyo 1.2 is not 5X, it is 3.6X and should be over 5# breaking strength. The only thing I can think of is that the slip knot must be the problem.

If it always breaks right there, the problem is not your fish fighting technique, it must be the knot.

Try a Davy knot or a Double Davy.

Mar 16, 2018
Tippet rings
by: Jeff D

I used to have break offs at the stopper knot occasionally. My hypothesis is that the tippet rubs on the hard fluorocarbon line bulked up in a knot and weakens. Since I switched to using tippet rings I have not had that problem. I use the (standard, not improved) clinch knot.

While listening to the Orvis podcast with Tom Rosenbauer, they have been testing knots with a very precise machine and very consistent knot tyers and they've found the standard clinch to be stronger than improved clinch knot and one of the strongest knots. I haven't switched to the very simple to tie double Davy because I have such muscle memory for the clinch knot.

Mar 16, 2018
Second that
by: Craig

I’ve found similar I learnt this trick from comp fishing
I’ve been using tippet rings since the 90s

I find 6x to 8x 7x fc Using standard clinch knot to a tippet ring at end of level fc leader is about 40% stronger on sudden impact dynamic jerks (as opposed to slow static pull) and when used in combo with keiryu rods give superior to just connecting to a figure eight on the end of yr leader. I’ve pulled branches down by hand lining with 6x on a ring (for errant casts) to recover so I know I am getting about 3.5lb or so.

But Not all rings are equal
I’ve found some break the 6-8x fc tippet because the edge isn’t as rounded and are worse than just using no ring
I’ve had good experiences for that last 20y with the hanak products. No doubt others are as good but I know what works for me.

Mar 17, 2018
by: Pete UK

Many thanks for all the suggestions!
I think that before my next trip to the river I'm going to sit down at the table and experiment with Davy knots, tippet rings and various weights of tippet and do some simple 'tug' tests to see what works and what doesn't.
Thanks again!

Mar 17, 2018
Tippet Rings
by: Les Albjerg

I really like using tippet rings. I also like using the Cultiva Micro Snap Swivels. Using the Diawa Figure 8 tool, I can now form a really nice neat small loop in my tippet material. I'm getting older, and my eyes just aren't what they used to be. It is nice having several pe-tied rigs setup and ready to go. I also like tying up rigs with the ultra small flies, so I can just snap them on the swivel. In low light it is really nice! With fixed line, if I am fishing a dry fly, I use a very small foam or bubble strike indicator just behind or ahead of the swivel to aid in both strike detection and to keep the swivel from sinking the fly.

My default knot is the clinch knot. I keep trying to learn new knots, but often just end up like Jeff because I have tied the clinch and improved clinch so often.

Last, I am not a total convert to fluorocarbon tippet material. I do use it, but I personally think it is over-hyped. Mono has several advantages too, such as shock absorbing when the fish hits. I fish with fluorocarbon, but not exclusively.

Mar 17, 2018
Machine Tested % Breaking Strengths of Angling Knots
by: Karl Klavon

Machine Tested %s Breaking Strengths Of Popular Knots

100% - The Palomar Knot. The Quick Penny Knot is not tested but 100 % knot strength is claimed. The main claim to fame for this knot is that it can be tied in the dark. This knot is a popular saltwater knot and is similar to the Eugene Bend.

99% - The Trilene Knot. Actually this is also a 100 % knot ( which means the line does not necessarily break at the knot), but the Palomar knot beat it every time in testing with super light weight tippets.

95% – The Perfection Loop.

92% - The Turle Knot – best when applied to Up-Eye style hooks.

89% - The Clinch Knot.

80% - The Perfect No-Slip or the Canoe Man Loop Knots, and the No-Slip Mono Loop Knots of various other types with differing wrap numbers for different line thicknesses.

78% - The Improved Blood Knot and the Double Surgeon’s loop knots. Here is an example where the Improved actually is a true improvement, which it is not always the case. The Seaguar Knot is a tying variation on tying a Double Surgeon’s knot that seems to produce a more streamlined knot than the usual way of tying a Double Surgeon’s Knot does.

76% - The Horner Rhodes/Eugene Bend Knot.

73% - The Davey Knot.

68% - The Blood Knot.

66% - The Improved Clinch Knot and the Uni-Jam Knots.

No Breaking Strength Data Found For:

No breaking strength data was found on the Ishigaki/One Knot, the Kryston No-Slip Loop Knot (the main advantage to which is that the loop the hook eye rides on is adjustable prior to tightening, and the finishing half hitch points the tag end of the line down, making debris less likely to snag on this knot and easier to clean off), and strangely enough for the Double Davey Knot as well. But I know for a fact that the Double Davey Knot is considerably stronger than the plain Davey Knot is on larger hook sizes.

Although hand tested, Teton Tenkara's Knot Test Video came up with 70% break strength for the Double Davey Knot and 69% for the Ishigaki Knot, respectively 3.50 and 3.49 Lbs.

Mar 17, 2018
Whose tests?
by: Chris Stewart


Did you run the tests or are you quoting another source?

Mar 17, 2018
Testing Knot Strength
by: John Evans

Years ago (I'm talking many years ago) at a Sport & Boat Show, at a fishing booth they had a gizmo set up where you could actually tie your knot in some line and test the breaking strength. Now this was too long ago for me to remember what knots I tried, and I probably didn't know many, but the one point I do remember is that the same knot could have a vastly different breaking strength depending on your skill in tying it. If you tied a sloppy knot, you got a low breaking strength. Tying the knot with good technique increased the breaking strength dramatically. Of course, this just makes sense. It always stuck in my mind that it's not just the knot--it's the skill and technique in tying it as well.

Mar 18, 2018
by: Pete (UK))

Just a quick update. I've been doing some non-scientific tests and the Davy knot consistently outperforms a slip knot when connecting both 1.0 and 1.2 Yamatoyo fluorocarbon tippet to Yamatoyo 3.5 fluorocarbon level line. The difference in break strength (of the tippet material at the knot) is really noticeable. So a big thanks for the tip, Chris (and Rob), I'll be using this knot from now on.
I've also played around with tippet rings and clinch knots. I'm not getting the same strength as with the davy knot connection but that could be because my tippet rings are not of sufficient quality (I've thrown away the original packaging and can't remember the brand). I'm also not doing 'sudden jerk' tests, just straightforward pulls.
It seems strange that the slip knot is so heavily promoted by certain high profile Tenkara institutions as being the go-to knot for tippet-to-level line connection..?

Mar 18, 2018
Slip knot
by: Chris Stewart

I know that the slip knot is promoted for level line to lillian connection. I use it myself and recommend it. I had not seen it promoted for tippet to level line connection, but following your test I will continue to use the Davy knot.

I was surprised to read in Karl Klavon's submission that the perfection loop was rated so highly. I had always thought it was a relatively weak knot - but I hadn't seen any comparison studies. The reason I bring it up is that I have seen Japanese illustrations showing a girth hitch (larks head) attachment of the tippet to level line, which is tightened and then slid up against the figure 8 stopper knot in the end of the level line. Of course, I don't know how strong the girth hitch is compared to a Davy knot, though.

Mar 18, 2018
Tippet rings and standard clinch
by: Jason Hudlow

Before I switched to tippet rings and standard clinch knot I had too many breaks at the knot junction. It rarely happens anymore with the rings and we have some pretty big and stout trout in my local waters.

Welcome to Tenkara!!!

Mar 18, 2018
A Knotty Situation
by: Hoppy D (SD)

The Davy knot..... I am surprised that it came in so low on Karl's ratings. To quote from NetKnots:

"The Davy Knot is attributed to Davy Wotton, a British fly-fishing pro. The positive aspects of this knot are in speed, size, and strength -- all great attributes for a fishing knot. Once learned, the Davy Knot can be tied very quickly which gets you back to fishing a a minimal amount of time. It is also a very compact knot making it a nice knot for small flies, and various tests rate it between 85 to 100 percent of line strength with 90 percent probably a safe assumption. The Davy Knot should be in every fly-fisher's arsenal of knots!"

This knot has been my go-to knot for more years than I want to remember. It surpasses the clinch and the improved clinch in too many ways to even consider using either one of them. No matter what various Fish & Game agencies might have to say in their regulation booklets..... But like other aspects of the fishing game, to each their own.

Mar 18, 2018
Whose Knot Tests
by: Karl Klavon

The tests were a compilation of machine tests conducted by Berkley and RIO Line Companies and are available for watching on YouTube.

Mar 18, 2018
Definitive Knot Tests You Can Do Yourself
by: Karl Klavon

Here is an interesting knot strength comparison test that you can easily do yourself: Tie the knots you want to test to the same hook using the same tippet, (one on the front of the eye and the other on the back side of the eye) and pull until one of the knots brakes. The knot that does not break is the test winner.

I believe, if you enter this in YouTube's Search Box - FlySpoke Tying The Best Fishing Knot Clinch Uni Davy Orvis Double Davy FlySpoke Knot? A video will come up showing this test being done... Karl.

Mar 19, 2018
Loop to Loop
by: Morgan Lyle

I don't like the slip knot for line-to-lillian and would never consider it for line-to-tippet. I make surgeon's loops in the line and the tippet and loop-to-loop them together. Davy or clinch knot to a loop in the line would work, but don't you damage the line when replacing tippet? Or do you have to clip off the line loop altogether and make a new one?

Mar 19, 2018
Davy or Clinch
by: Chris Stewart

The Davy or Clinch knot is generally tied around the line and then slid down to butt up against a figure 8 stopper knot in the end of the line rather than tied to a loop in the line.

When you cut off your tippet you will eventually get a little forest of cut tippet ends, which you pull up the line away from the stopper knot and clip carefully with nippers. No damage to the line and the line isn't shortened.

Mar 19, 2018
Do We Really Want A 100% Knot At The Fly?
by: Karl Klavon

The one thing the 100% fly to tippet knots have in common is that there are two line lengths going through the eye of the hook before the knot is tied - with twice the strength against hard metal.

With the strongest (Perfection Loop - @ 95% knot strength) Girth Hitch-ed to the standing line and slid down to a stopper knot, you are most likely to loose your fly and tippet as well, which was an all to common event for me when I was using the Surgeon's Loop @ 78% knot strength. And here again we have two line thickness joining the rod linked line to the tippet, which I believe makes for a stronger connection than with only a single line does.

Given a choice, personally, I would prefer to loose only the fly (that I was going to loose anyway) to loosing my fly and tippet with a tippet to line knot failure, so we may intentionally wish to use fly to tippet knots that are weaker than out tippet to line joining knots....Karl.

Mar 19, 2018
Avoiding The Forest Of Old Tippet Line Knots
by: Karl Klavon

One advantage, besides the additional strength, to using the Girth Hitch/Loop/Stopper Knot method is that you can easily cut only one side of the loop and pull on the other side to remove all the tippet and knot material from the level line.

While this is not exactly a cinch to do as the hitch tends to be very tight, pulling the uncut side up the line and pushing it backwards before trying to pull it off the line helps some. If all else fails brute force can be resorted to. But if you just trim as close to the line as possible if you can not get the half-hitch to come loose, sometimes it falls off all on its own while you are fishing.

Mar 19, 2018
Hook point to remove girth hitch?
by: Chris Stewart

Karl, I wonder if the point of a hook would allow you to catch the girth hitch and pull it up to loosen it. I haven't tried it but it seems like it should work.

Mar 19, 2018
Using A Hook To Loosen The Girth Hitch
by: Karl Klavon

That's an interesting idea, Chris. I have not tried it but I believe it would work, possibly much better than using the loop knot as a handle does, which has a tendency to tighten the hitch on one side as you pull on the knot to pull the line away. You will probably go fishing before I can, so please try it and let us know how it goes....Karl.

Mar 20, 2018
Tippet knots
by: Mike W


Mar 20, 2018
Teton Tenkara Knot Strength Test Video
by: Karl Klavon

Put the following in the YouTube Search Box and hit enter: Knot Strength 04-09-2013

Mar 20, 2018
'Forest' of old Tippet line knots
by: Pete (UK)

Of all the problems I'm having/have had with tippet-to-level line knots, removing the remains of the previous knots is not one of them. I just grip the last couple of inches of the level line in my left hand (obviously this will vary if you favour your right hand) tensioning the line a little, and then after sliding the tippet knot up from the level line stopper-knot a bit I can use my trimming snips (with my right hand and tippet also under a bit of tension) to trim off the waste of the old knot. I've yet to damage the level line during this procedure.
Warning: excellent eyesight or high magnification reading glasses mandatory.

Mar 24, 2018
Davy knot poor in Yellowstone tests
by: Doug

A test conducted by the Yellowstone Angler came up with different results.

"The good news is that the improved clinch, which almost everyone uses to tie on their flies, ended up testing the third strongest out of 15 different tippet-to-fly knots. Only the San Diego jam and double improved clinch averaged stronger breaks.

We were also surprised to see that the Davy knot, which is fast to tie and therefore popular in competitive fly-fishing circles, actually tested weaker than a wind knot!"

Apr 01, 2018
How to use a Davy knot?
by: Steve Carnes

Ok, so I'm a bit obtuse. I always use the Davy knot, sometimes the Double Davy, to attach tippet to fly. But one starts the knot by dropping it through the hook eye. How the heck does one utilize this same knot to connect to something at the end of the fly line (furled, or straight)?

Apr 01, 2018
Surprisingly simple
by: Chris Stewart

To make it simple, put a bend in the level line so it reminds you of a big hook eye. Then tie the Davy or Double Davy as normal, starting through that big "hook eye." Tighten your Davy knot around the line. Let go of the bend so the level line is again straight. Slide the Davy knot down so it butts up against the Figure 8 knot you've already tied in the end of the level line.

Apr 02, 2018
Davy knot
by: Steve Carnes

Thank you Chris! That is amazingly easy-sounding.

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