Uni, Palomar or Improved Clinch…

Which knot is best?

FSF Staff July 4, 2011

Fishing knots form critical connections that enable anglers to subdue powerful game fish, and it’s important to note that best is a relative term. Many knots were developed for specific applications and scenarios, so it’s not hard to see why not all knots are created equal. While you may feel that the best knot to tie is the one you can tie with perfection, even when executed properly some knots substantially reduce a line’s breaking point. Among many factors, including knot tying technique and prowess, a knot’s overall performance varies greatly depending on brand of monofilament, noted tensile strength, and even the way tension is applied.

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Angler error is the greatest factor in knot failure. Make sure your knots are cinched tight and seated perfectly.

To answer this difficult and highly disputable question, we turned to John Drouet of Diamond Fishing Products, makers of Hi-Catch, arguably the finest monofilament fishing line ever produced. Drouet has forgotten more about fishing line then most of us will ever know. Utilizing his company’s line-testing machine that’s regularly calibrated for precise readings, we were able to accurately test the three knots.

Before we got started, John made it a point to note that results would likely vary greatly if we were testing 10 lb. line or 100 lb. line. In this case, we selected 60 lb. as a middle-of-the-road leader material. He also wanted to make it clear that monofilament lines vary greatly from brand to brand in regards to stretch, memory and recovery. That being said, the results were actually quite decisive.

The key to accurate test results is repeatability, so we made sure to test each knot three times to ensure consistent readings. Interestingly, each of the three knots broke within a pound every time. Both the clinch knot and the palomar knot broke well above the 60 lb. line’s rated breaking strength. The knots broke at an average of 67.2 lbs. and 66.7 lbs. respectively. The uni knot didn’t fare anywhere near as well and broke well below the line’s breaking strength at an average of only 50.3 lbs.

While we mentioned earlier that knot performance is influenced by a wide variety of factors, the test definitely shed some light on the subject. And while it didn’t unequivocally reveal the strongest of the three knots, it certainly revealed the weakest.

Drouet finished by saying that it’s crucial anglers moisten and completely tighten their knots. If a knot isn’t cinched perfectly it may slip and fail. It’s sad, but a majority of knot failures are simply a result of improper technique. Lastly, connections that suffice for mono can greatly reduce breaking strength when used with modern braid, but that’s a different question altogether.

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