We were fishing the outgoing tide, dropping cut bait to the bottom of the channel and catching redfish. These were good sized reds, most of them 30 inches long or more. I set the hook on a real good fish and he ran almost half the 20 pound line off my reel before I could turn him. This guy was a bruiser!
As I fought him for the next 15 minutes or so, he made three individual runs, each time coming almost all the way to the boat. At the end of the last run , I reached down to grab the monofilament leader and net the fish. The leader came free from the hook, and the fish swam away. Angrily, I looked at the end of the leader. To my disgust, the curly remnants of a poorly tied knot were on the end of the leader. I had lost a fish because of a bad knot. But this doesn't have to happen ever!
The easiest way to prevent these losses is to properly tie a good knot on all of your terminal tackle. And tying a good knot is easy if you have some instructions.
I have about five or six knots that I use exclusively, although there are literally hundreds more, usually variations of these five basic ones. Each knot has its own particular application, and depending on the need, each can keep you from loosing fish. The knot I probably use the most for lures is the Improved Clinch Knot. This knot has excellent carrying strength and retains over 80% of the rated line strength when tied properly. It will not slip and is very easy to learn. I also use this knot when I have a heavy monofilament leader, say 50 pound test or higher.
When I need a small loop attached to the lure or hook, I use a Homer Rhode Loop Knot. This knot allows a loop of any size to be left in the line. The loop allows the hook or lure (in most cases it will be a lure) the freedom to move. This additional action is required on some lures, particularly topwater or crankbait lures.
For plain hooks on leaders less than 50-pound test, I like the Palomar knot. It is very easy to tie as long as the eye of the hook is large enough for the line to pass through it twice.
Learning to snell a hook is very easy if you take just a little time. The method is easily memorized and works well on small snell hooks used by lots of fly fishermen. With this knot the hook will have almost no movement, a factor used with flies and fly-fishing. It also retains virtually 100 percent of the line strength.
When I am joining lines of equal or almost equal diameter, I will always use a blood knot. This knot is very easy to tie, and the knot retains almost all of its strength. I use it to quickly add 100 yards or so of new line to an old reel without having to re-spool the entire reel. Sometimes line failure occurs while fighting a fish, and you loose a couple hundred yards of line. Rather than re-spool on the water, you can splice in new line with this knot.
The last knot I use with regularity is the Albright knot. This knot is used for tying to very dissimilar sizes of line together. I use it primarily for attaching a small diameter leader to my relatively large diameter fly line. It works well and is very strong. Try these knots out if you don't already have some favorites.