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Fly Fishing Knots: How to Tie a Blood Knot

Fly Fishing Knots: How to Tie a Blood Knot

Blood knots—complicated or simple?

Whether you’re grabbing your 4 wt fly rod for a weekend in the mountains or preparing for a trip to the salt flats, the blood knot is a worthy tool in any fly fisherman’s arsenal. To the inexperienced, they might appear complicated—but they don’t need to be. We’ve pulled together some tips and tricks to make tying this useful fly fishing knot simple.

When should you use a blood knot?

A blood knot, or—as the old timers used to call it—a barrel knot, is the best way to connect two pieces of tippet. This is especially true if your two pieces of tippet already have a fly tied to one end or if you're splicing in some tippet to lengthen your leader.

Blood knots are used to tie tippet to tippet or tippet to leader.

How to tie a blood knot:

A blood knot is fairly straightforward to envision; all it consists of are two pieces of tippet being twisted around each other ten times, with the end of each piece of tippet running back through the middle of those twists. 

The challenging part of a blood knot is getting the ends of the tippet back through the middle of the twists. So here’s a trick: start with an X. Beginning on one side of the X, take the free end of the tippet and twist it around the other tippet five times. Then, run the free end back through where the center of the ten twists will be (the side of the X that hasn’t been twisted yet). This will keep the middle of the twists open while you repeat the above steps on the other side of the X.

Hold the center of the twists in a blood knot open using the first end of tippet.

Since the first piece of tippet is already holding the middle of the twists open, you can run the second end of the tippet through the middle in the opposite direction of the first piece of tippet. Moisten the twists (this part is important to reduce friction when you are sinching down the knot), hold each end of the tippet, and pull; this will sinch everything down into a tight, barrel-shaped knot. 

Clip off one of the ends and leave the other long enough to tie on a dropper fly. This method gives you more life-like action—which means more fish eating your flies.

At the end of the day, we find that a good visual (and lots of practice) are the best ways to familiarize yourself with a new knot. Check out the video below for a helpful step-by-step walk through from Montana Casting Co. CEO Scott Joyner… Then grab your fly fishing rod and hit the river to give it a try!

To view other educational videos and see our gear in action, visit our Montana Casting Co. YouTube Channel. And be sure to check out our Spring Sale!

Questions? Comments? Fly fishing stories? Share in the comment section below!

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