It should come as no surprise that sharp hooks and strong knots are key components to successful days on the water. One of many knots used to attach hooks to fishing line, the snell knot is extremely strong, durable and has been relied upon for decades. Unique when compared to other techniques of connecting monofilament or fluorocarbon to hooks, this knot is special because your knot is formed around the shank of the hook. The result is a directional pull for more effective hook sets. Quite possibly one of the oldest fishing knots in existence, dated anglers relied on the snell knot when eyeless hooks were the only available options. Today, the snell knot is just as popular as ever.
Hooks with an offset eye are ideally designed for snelling, but straight eye hooks can also be utilized. However, if you choose straight eye hooks do not place the line through the hook eye. This places an unwanted amount of pressure on the line and the rough edge of the hook eye can potentially place a nick in your line. Whether you choose a hook with an offset or straight eye, the wrapping technique remains the same. For the purpose of this column we are going to use a circle-hook with an offset eye—an extremely effective combination.
Insert your selected leader material into the hook eye and form a 6-inch loop.From here you want to hold the leader tight against the hook shank with your thumb and index finger. While simultaneously twisting the loop, starting at the hook eye you are now going to start wrapping tight coils around both the tag end and shank (note the illustration for an exact demonstration). It’s also important that you keep the tag end even with the bend of the hook, as too long a tag can get in the way and make the wrapping process more difficult than it needs to be. It will be a confusing choreograph at first, but with practice it will become second nature.
Continue working your way toward the bend in the hook while making sure your wraps are packed tightly against each other. If you let the wraps sit loose they will unravel and jump over the next coil. It’s important that all of the coils sit perfectly or you could jeopardize the knot’s holding power. Seven or eight wraps will suffice. Hold the wraps tight with your left hand while slowly pulling on the leader to tighten the knot. Before synching the knot make sure the wraps are aligned. Now you can lubricate the knot and draw tight by pulling on the standing line. While you will get a tighter knot, the lubrication will also prevent heat and friction from damaging your line. Now give the tag end a brisk pull and trim it to finish off the knot.
You’ll notice that once complete, the tag end is secured beneath the wrapped coils. It’s important to note that there are other snelling techniques, but the end result is the tag end typically overlapping the outside of your barrel wraps. With a single strand overlapping the coils your rig will be more susceptible to damage from a nick to this crucial strand.
While the snell knot may seem a bit intimidating and difficult to tie at first, like all knots practice makes perfect. Once you get the motion down you’ll be able to snell a hook in less than 30 seconds. Like with any knot, try to destroy it with a quick test before you put it to good use. It is better to have tackle failure occur in the boat than during battle with a trophy game fish.