One of the more under-appreciated steps in tying any given fishing knot is the turn. This is when you take the tag line (the segment that passes through the eyelet) and rotate it around the standing line, often by holding the hook or knot-tying tool and twisting that. Watching knot-tying video guides—including our guide on improved clinch knots—often makes the turn seem like something that you don’t need to think about.
For experienced anglers, maybe it is. But for those new to the hobby, it’s important to understand the thought process and strategy behind a turn, or wrap.
First, the logic: We’ve said it before, every fishing advice book has said it before, and we’ll all say it again…”your knot is the most essential link between you and the fish.” Your ability to catch a fish is only as strong as the knot holding the hook or lure to the line. Bad knots are more likely to break when they slide. A well-executed turn will prevent this slide, and hopefully your future catch as well.
Too Many Turns...Too Few Turns...
Strong execution relies on a balance between too many turns and too few. Too many and you’ll make it impossible to tighten the knot to its maximum potential. Too few and the final product will be more prone to sliding.
So, Goldilocks, what’s the “just right” number of turns?
We’ve combed the web and found a wide variety of advice as to how many turns you should give a line during an improved clinch knot. Some say as few as four and some say as many as ten. Our own guide suggests anywhere between four and seven. No wonder beginners get confused. That’s a huge difference.
Let’s clarify a little bit: That range of recommendations is based on a number of factors, which you’ll need to consider when tying your own knot. The rest of this post will take its numbers from The Little Red Fishing Knot Book, a well-regarded guide for the hobby. Start by considering what kind of line you’re using. If you’re a beginner, it’s safe to assume that you’ll be employing monofilament in your first forays on the pond.
Method to Preventing Madness
Now, look at the label and find the line’s strength, which will be marked in lbs. Some strands of monofilament are stronger than others, generally because they’re thicker as well. The thickness of the line is what ultimately determines how many turns you should use. Here’s a handy chart for when you’re using monofilament:
You’ll note that as the strength of the line increases, the number of turns decreases. This is because the thicker the line, the more difficult it will be to pull tightly at the end of the process. Sometimes, with heavier lines, you’ll need a pair of pliers to pull it tight (and don’t forget to wet your line!).
And what if you’re not using monofilament lines? Braided lines are certainly an exception, as their construction makes them inherently thinner, regardless of strength. A good rule of thumb is to take the number of turns suggested by weight for monofilament and then add another 4 or 5 wraps when using braided line. If, for example, you are using 12 lb. braided line, you’ll turn it between 9 and 11 times.
There is still some flexibility, of course. The number of turns is hardly an exact science, so you should use these recommendations as a guideline and find what works best for you.Now that you know how many turns you’ll need, you can go through the process of making them. Many guides do this very quickly and that’s OK for them—they’re experts. It’s more important for beginning anglers take their time. It’s essential that you keep the line flat during the process and ensure that nothing overlaps, which will weaken the knot. It’s better to start over and get it right than risk losing a fish to a faulty knot.