After getting more involved in the passion of saltwater fishing in the early 1980s and reading everything that came my way (Charlie Davis’ “Hook Up!” and Chuck Garrison’s “Offshore Fishing”) I learned how to tie my first real knot: The improved clinch knot.
For years it was my “go-to” terminal connection for everything from mackerel to albacore…and it worked well! It is quick, easy to tie and very rarely did I have a fish come unbuttoned, only to pull in the pig tail curly-q end of the line that was the obvious sign of a knot failure. I believe the improved clinch is still a viable knot, if tied correctly. However, after having countless numbers of fellow anglers trying to convince me that THEIR knot is the best thing going, I decided to do a little informal test. The goal: To determine for my own satisfaction which knot, if any, I should switch to!
The test involved using samples of Soft Steel Ultra 22.7 lb. test monofilament line, with one end tied to a plain circle ring and the other on the spool. The ring (with the knot) was then attached to a hand-held luggage scale and the approximate reading noted when the line broke. Hey, I already stated this was an informal test!
The three main contenders in this competition are the Double Improved Clinch Knot, Palomar, and the San Diego Jam Knot.
I performed 5 “pull tests” to determine the breaking strength of each sample of line, hoping each would break at the knot to give me an idea of the breaking strength of just the knot and not necessarily the line. On one attempt on each knot (20% of the time) the line broke at a point away from the knot. The rest of the time the line broke at the knot, in theory, the weakest point.
The final results made it pretty clear to me that I should tie…..
THE PALOMAR KNOT
During my testing, the Palomar broke at an average of 83% of the rated line strength with one pull actually exceeding the rated line strength. It was a consistent performer.
The double improved clinch knot actually came in second with an average breaking point of 79% of the line’s rating. I didn’t try the traditional improved clinch because of plenty of previous tests that all showed the double variant outperforms the original.
Coming in a very close third place was the San Diego knot, averaging 77% of the rated breaking strength of the line used.
Of course, your mileage may vary and this test was not done on one of those highly accurate knot testing machines you see at the outdoors shows. However, what it demonstrated to ME was that I found a knot that performed better for ME, one that I consistently tied, is fairly easy to tie and works well for most applications. For large jigs I will probably still use the double improved clinch mainly because the whole jig, including treble hook, would have to pass through a small loop in the line. The double improved clinch is quicker and easier in that case.
For mono to flouro connection I have had excellent results with the Seaguar knot. Again, easy to tie consistently and it works well. For dropper loop fishing, a variation of the Seaguar knot has become my rig of choice instead of the traditional dropper loop knot, which can fail when you need it the most. I had a perfectly tied dropper loop fail on a large Guadalupe yellowtail…all I got back was a clean break right at the knot!