The Basic Improved Clinch Knot
There are not very many knots you need to learn to catch fish – any fish. The knots that we use are very basic, and with a couple of easy modifications, will work on anything from thread-thin tippets of leaders used for gentle fly-fishing, all the way to heavy leaders used for shark, tarpon, and other big ocean fish. This knot – in its improved form – is one of the key knots you need to hook things to your fishing rod. The photos show the step-by-step process.
The "Improved Clinch Knot" is probably one of the world's most popular knots, and we've seen people using it all over the place. The regular version – without the "tag" end (the end of the line) slipped underneath the main loop – works better if the leader weight is greater than about 20 lbs. For the big lines that we use on tarpon or shark – often 80 lbs. and more – the extra tucked-in end adds strength and prevents slippage.
How A Clinch Knot Works
The line wraps through the eye of the lure or hook, and wraps over itself in a neat spiral tube. Hold the loops under your fingers by pinching them. You can wrap the spiral as many as eight times if the line is really fine and light, but on heavier line we do it with three loops and it holds just find.
When you tie any knot, they tighten better if you spit on them. There is probably some poisonous spray substance you can buy and spill into the environment, but spit works best.
The knot actually changes its structure as you pull it tight if you hold it right against the hook or lure. The portion of the line that was inside the knot rolls over because of the lubrication, and that does not happen with dry line. That's why you should always spit on all your knots. The weight is redistributed without the line twisting, and the rolled line transfers tension better and results in less broken knots.
Tying an Improved Clinch Knot
The hook or lure has an eye. Pass the end of the line through the eye and give yourself at least a couple of inches to work with. It is always better to have too much "tag" line than too little. The 'Tag End' is the end of the line or lines. In this case we are talking about the leader you are connecting to the hook or lure. We assume you have already tied it to the fishing line with a surgeon's knot.
The standing line is the leader connected to your rod. Wrap the tag end around the standing line about five times.
That leaves a loop at the eye. Put the tag end through that loop between the wraps and the eye.
Lastly, pull the tag through the last wrapped loop.
Spit on the knot and tighten it. (Cover up the spitting part with your hand, or turn your back if your wife or any weak-hearted bystanders will be grossed out). Do not avoid the spit step though, because it is the most effective way to lubricate a knot.