In comparison to big game fishing for billfish and tuna, inshore angling represents a simple and enjoyable approach nearly anyone can be successful at. But while it is indeed uncomplicated and doesn’t require anglers to master an overwhelming amount of knots and techniques, there are a few basic connections every inshore angler needs to be able to complete with perfection.
While there are certainly many variations and technique specific applications, the vast majority of inshore fishing techniques require anglers conect braided running line to a monofilament or fluorocarbon leader. From here it’s best to connect the leader to a hook or lure with as little terminal tackle as possible to maintain a stealthy presentation. Without the ability to properly finish the following sequence with ease, you’ll never get over losing that trophy fish, because it will continue to happen. You’ll forever be known as the guy who is always telling stories of the one that got away.
It may seem like a small aspect to success, but even such a subtle difference can have a big impact.
While practicing your casting skills is no doubt important, sometimes you need to take a closer look at the smaller details that lead to the big picture. Although there are a lot of things that can go wrong before you actually get spooled by a determined fish, and it is very unlikely that if you reach the bottom of the spool you’ll be able to come from behind and conquer the battle, it’s important you have a solid connection at your reel. This is where everything starts.
In the past the arbor knot was the best knot to tie to the spool, but with ultra-thin diameter braided lines common with light tackle applications, this isn’t always the best option. A better approach, and a knot that serves multi purposes, is an improved clinch knot. It’s simple and streamlined. Instead of wrapping your spool with electrical tape to keep the line from slipping, start by wrapping your braid around the spool three times. From here make a simple improved clinch knot and pull to tighten. Trim the tag end and manually make the first five wraps of line around the spool by tightening with your hand. This will ensure the line on the bottom of the spool holds tight and doesn’t ever slip.
The next essential knot is the blood knot. Ideal for adding fresh top shots and attaching any combination of braid, monofilament or fluorocarbon, the blood knot is a simple knot you need to know. The resulting streamlined connection flows through guides with ease. While some claim it’s not effective for heavy leaders, it holds great when seated properly with nearly any light tackle application.
Holding the mainline and leader parallel to each other, overlap the tag ends about six inches on each side and make five wraps. Feed the two tag ends in opposing directions through the center wrap. While holding the tag ends tight, moisten and slowly tighten by applying even pressure from both sides. When seated correctly, the lines will wrap uniformly. Trim the tags tight to the knot once complete.
A non-slip loop is the final piece to the equation. While you can attach hooks and lures by tying your leader directly to the eye, a non-slip loop knot gives live baits and artificial lures greater mobility without any influence from the line. It may seem like a small aspect to success, but even such a subtle difference can have a big impact.
Start by making an overhand knot in the mainline, approximately three inches from the tag end, then pass the tag through the hook or lure eye. Realize that the size of the loop at this point will be the final size of the finished loop, so adjust accordingly. It’s best to have a small loop. Pull the tag up through the loop in the mainline. Wrap the line around the mainline above the loop—three wraps will suffice. Feed the tag end through the first overhand loop created in the mainline and slowly tighten. When seated properly the tag end should face away from the mainline.
While there are many different variations for this sequence of knots, these work and they are simple to tie, especially for novices. As your skills advance and your repertoire of techniques expand, you can explore other knots better suited for technique specific applications. One thing that is universal is that knots that are tied right look right, so if it doesn’t look right retie it. Also, monofilament, fluorocarbon and braided lines aren’t bulletproof and it is wise you routinely inspect for nicks and abrasions in both the leader and main running line.