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Fly Fishing Line Connections

Assemble a fool-proof backing, flyline, leader and fly connection system.

Offshore fly fishing will really test your connections. When a big bonito runs, you’ll see backing quick!

You should never lose a fish because the leader and fly line separated, or lose a fly line to a fish because the backing-to-fly line connection failed.

Fly fishers should know how to make the proper connections in their tackle. Making these practical connections requires no tool other than a line clipper.

Backing to reel spool: Tie a surgeon’s loop in the end of the backing. Pull a second loop of the backing through the double surgeon’s loop to form a slip knot. Take the spool off the reel. Drop the slip knot over it. Snug it up. Re-assemble the reel. Start to reel.

This knot can go on the spool two ways. One works. One doesn’t. If you put it on wrong the spool will turn but won’t take up line. Take the spool back off the reel, remove the slip knot, flip it over, and reassemble. Now it will work.

Backing to fly line: Tie a loop in the backing, large enough to fit over the spool of fly line, using a Bimini twist. If the fly line has a loop, pull the loop in the backing through the loop in the fly line and around the fly line spool. Snug it up so it looks like a square knot.

Put a pencil through the fly line spool. Have someone hold the fly line spool between their fingers while holding that pencil. Reel the fly line onto the reel. Putting your line on this way will prevent its getting twisted.

Fly line to leader butt: If your fly line lacks a loop you need to whip one here, too. Once the fly line has a loop, tie either a double surgeon’s loop or a perfection loop in the end of the leader’s butt section. Then loop to loop the leader to the fly line. Again, it should look like a square knot.

Leader butt to tippet: As was detailed in the September 2012 issue of Florida Sportsman, I use a two-piece big game leader consisting of a butt section and a tippet. In the terminal end of the butt, tie either a double surgeon’s loop or a Perfection loop.

Tie a Bimini twist and then a double surgeon’s loop in your tippet. Then loopto-loop the tippet to the butt. Yes, it should look like a square knot.

Tippet to fly: For tippets of 12 pounds or less, a simple, five-turn clinch knot works well most of the time. If the hook wire diameter is too large for the line this knot will slip. Then use an improved clinch knot.

For tippets of 15-pound test or more use a loop knot to attach the fly. The loop allows the fly to swing, unencumbered by the stiffness of the leader material. - FS

First Published Florida Sportsman April 2013