Which knots rated 100 percent in SF's reader-knot challenge and how were they tied?
Be sure to click through all the images in the gallery above to see close-up knot photos, entrants' scores, and step-by-step knot tying instructions.)
In 2010, we published the results of Sport Fishing’s first reader knot challenge. A total of 44 readers tied 30-pound braided main line to 50-pound fluorocarbon leader.
How they did so varied, but about half tied a double line first (to connect to the leader), while the other half chose to leave the main line as a single strand.
Many anglers — including many skippers — in fact customarily tie their braid main lines as a single strand. But at least among our entries, tying a double line proved by far the strongest connection: Of the top 12 finishers, all 12 used a double line to tie to the leader.
This year’s challenge focused on knots used to create a double line, with the primary objective of finding which knots proved strongest and how those were tied.
A CALL FOR ENTRIES
Last spring, we solicited entries via the magazine and sportfishingmag.com, sending to the first 50 respondents instructions, a brief questionnaire and lengths of line to use.
All entrants received PowerPro Super 8 Slick 30-pound braid and Berkley Trilene Big Game 30-pound mono. All were instructed to tie three knots to create three doubled lines with the braid, and three again with the mono.
We promised that the top three finishers for each line type would receive a Penn Spinfisher SSV3500 filled with 30-pound SpiderWire Ultracast Invisibraid on a Penn Regiment Inshore rod (retail about $330 per outfit).
TIME FOR TESTING
We received 33 testable packages. (In several others, knots had been used to splice single lines or connect braid to mono, making them irrelevant for this double-line challenge.)
We tested all knots on the International Game Fish Association’s Instron 5543 tensile testing machine, which provided a mean break figure for each test of three knots in braid and three in mono.
In straight line testing, the PowerPro braid broke at 43.1 pounds (average) and the Berkley mono broke at 44.1 pounds (average). So to be 100 percent, knots would have to break at those strengths. (Note that all mono was tested dry for expedience; had the line and knots been soaked, the strength would have been slightly less, since monofilament loses a bit of strength when wet but should have been relatively the same in all respects.)
In charts showing the results (see photos 7 and 18 in the gallery above), we list the average break strength of each contestant’s knots, and also list that mean break as a percentage of the line strength.
HARD TO BEAT A BIMINI
With braid, knots ranged from 32.5 to 100.9 percent of line strength. Clearly, how you tie your knots matters! One explanation for an average break exceeding 100 percent is that the knot itself was stronger, not weaker, than the line, and the single line above the knot proved fractionally stronger than our average break due to variation within the spool. For mono, knots ranged from 57.2 to 101.8 percent.
With the strongest knots, the (single) line often broke above the knots, while the knots themselves held tight, again suggesting a good connection can be stronger than the line itself.
It’s widely assumed among serious anglers that, for tying a double line, it’s hard to beat the venerable Bimini twist. A glance at the charts reinforces that: Whether braid or mono, in nearly all cases, Biminis dominated the best knots, those breaking at 90 to 100 percent of line strength.
The bottom of the charts are mostly occupied by knots other than Biminis, particularly when it comes to mono. Some anglers claimed their Bimini alternatives were easier to tie, while seeming certain these knots would test high; many of them might be rudely awakened to find that their knots are costing them a great deal of strength.