Henry Gilbey
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If you fish with a leader on the end of your braid, do many of you now tie an FG knot to secure them together?

I think I first stumbled upon the FG knot on YouTube, and I can remember the first time I managed to tie it properly here at home - because from that instant this amazing braid to leader knot became an absolute no-brainer to me. I accept completely that here in the UK and Ireland we are not exactly fishing for species of fish that are going to test the gear we use to anywhere near the max, and of course a good quality say 20lb 8-strand braid is capable of landing seriously big fish when the terrain doesn’t reach out and break your heart - but my argument from day one with the FG knot has always been why not?

Why not make your connection from braid to leader as strong as you can? Why allow that connection to be a potential weak point in a setup that you might have spent serious cash on in the hope and belief that firstly you’re going to land the bulk of the fish you hook, and secondly that if and when a truly special fish comes along, you’re not fannying about giving said fish yards of line because you’re worried your leader knot isn’t going to hold or your rod might bend too much - which let me assure you it isn’t. In no way does the fact that I gave my biggest ever bass not a single inch of line make me a better angler than you, rather I had absolute faith in every part of my gear when I needed to put the gears on because of where I was. In my book I see absolute logic in the longer a fish fights for, the greater the chance of something going wrong.

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For me it was pretty simple from day one with the FG knot - if I tie an Improved Albright from 20lb braid to a 20lb fluoro leader then I can break it in my hands without that much effort. If I try to break the same lines connected together via an FG knot in my hands then I end up with line cuts in my fingers from the braid which are always lovely when you get saltwater in them! The FG knot makes me realise how strong 20lb braid actually is - abrasion resistance and gnarly ground aside of course. Damn right this isn’t remotely scientific, but when was a line testing machine ever going to replicate actual fishing conditions either? I have heard people say that I should test my knots with weighing-scales etc., but really, what’s the point? I 100% trust the FG knot to secure my braid mainline to my fluoro leader. Nine times out of ten if I need to pull for a break the fluoro leader breaks on the knot to the lure clip, instead of on the leader knot as you get with something like the Improved Albright - and I might also add that I have got plenty of lures back where the hooks have bent out via an FG knot.

And still the easiest to understand video I have found for learning to tie the FG knot is the one above, albeit with the lighter braids we might use I will put thirty turns (fifteen complete crisscrosses) in before securing with a half-hitch, pulling the hell out of the knot to cinch it down, put two more half-hitches in around the leader/mainline, cut the leader nice and tight, put two half-hitches in around the braid mainline only now, and then put a 3-turn locking knot in there to finish it off. For sure you can cast this knot through your rod guides if needs be - and I have tried much longer leaders for bass fishing - but to be honest my fluoro leader is always of a shortish length whereby the FG knot is never actually inside my rod guides. If you can’t hold the braid in your teeth then you can put a small loop in the end and secure it either to you or try putting it around your reel handle, tension it up, and tie it like that.

Okay, so the FG knot takes longer to tie than say an Improved Albright or a Uni to Uni or whatever, but when my whole fishing thing as such is based around one hell of a thin and arguably fairly fragile connection between me and the fish I might hook, again I ask myself why not? Why not have that connection between my braid and my leader the strongest I can make it? By using the FG knot, in my head I have now completely removed any worries about my connection between my mainline and my leader - yes, I always use a leader, and yes, I experimented a bit last year with not using one and I just didn’t like it - and because I would always argue that fishing is so much about confidence, why not use what gives me complete confidence?

I wonder if more anglers are using a modern knot like this, or do lots of people still use what are older and unquestionably weaker knots on very modern fishing lines? Are some of the anglers who argue that a braid/leader combination is wrong simply unable to properly tie something like the FG knot? Ouch! Yep, bass are only bass, and GTs they are not and never will be, but we love and cherish ‘em, and from my own point of view I want to fill myself with confidence that I can remain connected to as many of them as I can and not donate yards of free line to them because I am worried about my leader knot and also actually putting a bend into my bit of modern carbon. Ouch again! Monday morning and nervously counting down until Saturday afternoon and the monster that is England v Ireland in the Six Nations…………..