Leader Construction 101

The Surgeon's knot is little more than a fancy overhand knot. To attach a tippet to a leader for example, begin by overlapping the ends of the two pieces of material. Be certain that you overlap enough material so that you can tie the knot with ease. Now, form an overhand knot in the middle of the two pieces. As you do so, be sure that the two loops of line (leader and tippet together) formed by the overhand knot are equal in diameter.

Take the long (or "standing") end of the tippet material and the short (or "tag") end of the leader through the knot three times. Lubricate the knot with water or saliva, and then simultaneously pull all four ends smoothly and thoroughly to tighten the knot. Pull hard enough to make certain that the knot is fully formed and will not slip if pressure- perhaps from a fish- is applied. Cut the tag ends close to the knot to prevent excessive hang-ups on weeds, algae, and other obstructions. That's it, one three-turn Surgeon's Knot.

With this knot you can build an entire leader or simply add a new/longer tippet section to a pre-made leader. There are a plethora of leader formulae out there, as well as principles that can help you understand how to design your own leaders.