FG knot and why you should be using it when fishing the Twizel Canals
By Allan Burgess
This article is about the FG knot. Why you need it and how to Tie it. The name FG knot as far as I can determine comes from Japan. The FG stands for “Fine Grip”. The FG knot is used to join fluorocarbon or monofilament to the braided line. Back when everyone used monofilament there was no real need to tie on a separate leader unless you were surfcasting. When fishing long powerful surf rods that would require 6 ounces or more to fully load the blank, we would use a separate leader for several reasons.
In order to get a greater casting distance, we would spool our Alvey reels or eggbeaters with a 20-pound monofilament line. Some angles, depending on where you fished, would go even lighter, spooling up with 15-pound mono. As any experienced surfcaster knows if you attempt to cast a 150 gram or 6-ounce slinker with a powerful long surf rod there is a very strong danger that the sinker will part company with the line during casting because of the sheer amount of force put on the knot. You would hear a characteristic loud crack like a rifle shot halfway through the cast which meant your line had just broken – usually at the knot.
This would soon get expensive because not only did you lose the sinker, you also lost your terminal rig and hooks. Plus, you had to waste even more time tying on another terminal rig. This problem would cause some people considerable frustration because they couldn’t figure out what was causing the bust-offs! These frustrating unnecessary losses could also be caused by an unnoticed wrap of line catching around the rod trip just prior to casting. Experience surfcasters always check for these accidental line wraps just for forecasting.
The way around the problem of light line breaking during the cast was to use a heavy shock leader of 40 or 50-pound monofilament. The shock leader would measure about two-rod lengths. That gave you enough line to go from the reel up through the rod tip and allow the terminal rig to be attached so that it would hang down a couple of feet from the rod tip. At the reel end, you want enough line to wrap at least half a dozen times around your reel spool.
Once braid came into general use about 20 years ago surfcasters soon realized it could inflict very nasty deep cuts to the fingers during casting with eggbeater reels. There are three ways around that problem. (a) use a thumb caster, (b) wear a leather finger protector, or employ a 50-pound monofilament shock leader.
I Always Used Uni-Knots to Join Two Monofilament Lines. I must admit that when tying monofilament leaders to my braid mainline my go-to knot has long been the blood knot or more specifically, back-to-back uni-knots. This is the same knot I always used to tie my 50-pound monofilament shock leader to the lighter monofilament line on my reel. Although I could feel the knot passing through my rod guides, it was very strong and didn’t ever break or come apart.
Even when fishing down at the Twizel Canals I still used back-to-back uni-knots for joining 10 or 15-pound monofilament leaders to the braid on my spinning reels. This worked fine without any problems. I used the trusted method that I had used for decades. I could join braid and mono lines together in less than a minute – even in the dark.
I now only use the FG Knot
About five years ago I stopped using the back-to-back uni-knots for joining mono to braid and now only use the FG knot. I can’t remember exactly why I made the switch. I likely read about it somewhere. Now that I’m using the FG knot I can’t imagine ever going back to the old-line joining method.
The biggest single advantage of the FG knot is that its small diameter passes effortlessly through your rod’s line guides. Unlike the old bulky uni-knots, I can just feel the FG knot and no more. It makes casting and retrieving much more enjoyable without the clunk as the knot passes through the rod guides – particularly the tip.
The second advantage of the FG knot is that it doesn’t weaken the line at all. It is said to produce 100% knot strength. I haven’t tested the FG Knot to say whether it does or doesn’t produce 100% knot strength but I have never ever had it fail on me.
Tying the FG Knot
OK, So what are the pros and cons? As far as I can see, there is really only one disadvantage of the FG knot; it isn’t all that easy to tie, at least not initially. For those of us who are visually challenged (wear glasses), the FG knot can be quite fiddly especially with small diameter lines. However, I’ve now mastered it.
If you look up “tying the FG knot” on YouTube you’ll discover that there is something like a dozen different ways of tying it. We can break these down into two separate groups. The first, and older method, involves a convoluted system of tying it whereby the braid and fluorocarbon are firstly secured to a fixed point and the two lines form a cross. The second newer method, and the one I prefer, is much simpler. It can be tied using just your hands and braids the braid around the fluorocarbon or mono fairly tightly as you create the FG knot as opposed to having the knot quite loose and tightening it up at the end.
With the FG knot the braid beds down into the fluorocarbon or monofilament line squeezing it as it tightens. There are no loops or knots tied in the fluorocarbon at all. Therefore the FG has a very slim profile and is about half the thickness of a double blood knot yet is even stronger. As the FG passes through your line guides when casting or retrieving you can barely feel it.
I found that tying this knot really is a case of practice makes perfect. My first few attempts were just awful. By about my 5th or 6th attempt I was able to tie it really well. Even now I’m not that fast at it. I also have to wear strong reading glasses in order to see that the line is packing down nice and tight.
The FG knot used to tie on a leader of two-rod lengths doesn’t get changed as often as the uni-knot for tying on lures. Cutting your lures off and tying a new one on shortens your fluorocarbon leader each time until eventually, you’ll have to replace it with a new leader. This can be quite a big deal if you are a chronic lure changer.
Mustad Fastach Clips
You can eliminate this problem entirely by tying on a Mustad Fastach Clip in size 0.1 Ref FTCBB. These things are brilliant allowing you to change lures without cutting any line off in just a couple of seconds. They allow the soft bait jig head or whatever lure you have attached to move freely, eliminate line twist, and are so small they don’t interfere with the lure’s swimming action.
If you haven’t already, its time you started using the FG knot. You will be glad you did. It may, or may not, take you a few attempts to tie initially. With a little practice, you’ll be good at it no time. The FG knot is perfect for connecting a fluorocarbon or monofilament leader to your braid mainline for all spin fishing.
Now that most of you will be fishing braid the FG knot is perfect for joining on a leader that you will barely be able to feel passing through your line guides. It is the ideal choice for spin fishing for trout, salmon, and kahawai all the way up to kingfish and tuna. If you fish the Twizel Canals with lighter lines you really must learn how to tie the FG knot.
This is the tying method for the FG knot that I prefer. You don’t need any fixed anchor points as you can just tie the knot with your hands alone.