The Surgeon's Knot - Strong & Easy to Tie

Not long ago I encountered a fly fisherman on the bank trying to redo his leader. As I approached he asked, "do you know how to use this stupid knot tier? I'm trying to tie a blood knot." I told him that I would be happy to show him how manually, but wouldn't it be easier to use the surgeons knot? "Say what?", he responded.

The blood knot or barrel knot is used by many fly fishermen to join two lines together, as in the tapering of a leader or tying on a tippet. It is not easy to tie, although numerous gadgets have been invented to help the tier. If it is tied improperly the resulting loss of strength can reach 50%.

As a rule of thumb line diameter should not exceed .002 to .003 inches. If the difference is going to be greater, the improved barrel knot should be used. The barrel knot has a breaking strength of 90 to 95 percent.

On the other end of the spectrum is the surgeon's knot. Not only is it easy to tie, but it has a breaking strength greater than 95 percent. Moreover, any difference in diameters does not effect its efficiency (although it works best when the breaking strength of one piece does not exceed four or five times that of the other).

Surgeons do not use the knot in surgery. The knot may have gotten its name because it is part of the real surgeon's knot, or because many fly-fishing surgeons use it along the stream. In any event, it is one of the easiest, quickest and strongest knots known to man.

If you use fluorocarbon material I suggest a triple overhand as opposed to the standard double.

One final point - use saliva to lubricate the knot before pulling it tight because saliva lubricates better than plain water.