walk through any well-stocked book store will reveal that handbooks of
knots are a staple in the fishing literature racks. One of the best known
is Practical Fishing Knots by Lefty Kreh and Mark Sosin. There are
dozens of others, some good and some not-so-good. Having a good one on
your book shelf is an important investment in your angling skills;
everything we work for on the water comes down to the knot.
Philpott is a sailor and angler who lives on the sunny coast of
California, and judging by the clarity and detail of his book The
Complete Book of Fishing Knots, Leaders and Lines he’s a fellow who
truly understands this tangled topic. While this isn’t a book aimed
exclusively at the fly fishing crowd, it offers more than enough material
central to the light-tackle angler’s game to make it a valuable addition
to a well-stocked library. If you don’t currently have a guide book to
knots, this is one at which you should take a close look.
two chapters of the book should be required reading for every angler
everywhere. Philpott, in precise and detailed terms, provides an overview
of how knots work, how various line materials effect knot strength and
design, and what we as anglers should and shouldn’t do to make the most of
this fragile connection to the subject of our sport. In Philpott’s words,
“life does not stand still. You will have to grow with it, whether you
want to or not. Fishing, as part of life, is not a sport that likes to
stay still: it is constantly evolving. New lines are coming out all the
time, new rods, new reels, new gear – there is always something new. Your
knots, however, having stood the test of time, have not changed in maybe
five or ten years, maybe even since you first tied them? So, do you think
that maybe there is something you could stand to learn about knots, even
if you choose not to use the information? If you can gain some greater
understanding of how knots work, and in which kinds of line, wouldn’t that
be worth hanging onto?” Indeed it would.
All of the
fifty knots demonstrated in the book are superbly illustrated in color
photographs. The knots are tied using a heavy cord to make following the
loops and twists easy. Each knot is accompanied by an example of how and
when it should be used, what its strengths and weaknesses may be, and tips
on how to best execute its construction. A great example of the ease with
which you can learn a new knot is shown in the following sequence
demonstrating the Orvis knot. This is a knot that I’d never used before,
but it’s one that I’m certain to use in the future. It’s compact, strong
and easy to tie. It’s especially easy since I took just five short
minutes to look at the pictures and practice it in a heavy line. Such a
fast and easy return on investment is the hallmark of a good “how to”
finishes out the book with a couple of surprises. Have you ever wondered
if you’re tying your shoe laces correctly? Me neither. But Philpott has
and he’s provided a technique for tying laces that won’t easily come loose
until you want them to loosen. Now that's something I wished
I'd learned when I had wading boots with laces!
The very final item is a
fascinating project where-in you'll make a fishing license lanyard.
I think this would be an even better lanyard for clippers, forceps and the
like. It is constructed of a series of woven strands of cord.
I'll admit, it looks like it'll be a lot of work, but then I know these
things only look difficult before you've tried them. Follow the
pictures and you'll have a great looking item that was truly created by
hand. And the finishing touch, the wall-and-crown knot, is truly a
masterpiece. I once spent a summer of my youth tying all the knots
in Chapman's Piloting, Seamanship and Small Boat Handling. It
was a fascinating exercise and I still have several of the more complex
knots as a memento of the time spent. I'm confident that if you try
this project, not only can you finish it in a night, but you'll be proud
that you tried.
The Complete Book of Fishing
Knots, Leaders and Lines (ISBN 1-60239-224-2) is available for $9.95
from Skyhorse Publishing.