By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Which automaker produces the best pickup trucks? What's the best rifle caliber for whitetail deer? Who's the best pitcher in the history of baseball?
Those are questions that will elicit a variety of answers – it all depends on who you talk to.
"Best fishing knots" is another topic that falls into that category. You BassFans know you've had many discussions about them (and perhaps even a heated argument or two). There's more than one way to attach terminal tackle to line or one type of line to another and all anglers have their favorites.
We surveyed some tour-level pros last week to find out which knots they prefer and why. Each was asked for their choice for tying a hook or jig to fluorocarbon line, tying a crankbait to fluorocarbon and attaching a fluorocarbon leader to a braided main line.
If you're unfamiliar with any of the responses, several step-by-step tutorials for each knot are available on YouTube.
Drew Benton doesn't know the precise name of the knot he uses for standard ties – if one even exists. He learned it from a buddy when, as a teenager, he had a couple of bedding fish break 20-pound fluorocarbon tied with a Palomar knot.
"I go through the hook eye twice, make a loop and then wrap the tag end through the loop five or six times," he said. "It's a good, compact knot and the two strands through the eye makes it really strong. I can tie it in a hurry without messing it up.
"I use the same knot for a crankbait, but sometimes I'll tie a Palomar if I need to be really quick."
He favors the uni-to-uni knot for most braid/fluoro links.
Kevin VanDam says the FG knot is far and away the best for attaching a fluorocarbon leader to braided line.
"I can tie it really fast, almost with my eyes closed. It's skinny enough that it doesn't get hung up in the guides on a dropshot rig. If it's a bait I'm going to cast a lot, like a hair jig or a Ned rig, I'll use an FG knot. It takes longer to tie, but there's a little less resistance going through the guides. I've never had either of them fail me."
Scott Martin is a big fan of the Palomar knot – both the traditional configuration and a modified version that he came up with on his own.
"I use a regular Palomar with heavy line or braid," he said. "If I'm fishing lighter fluorocarbon on dropshots, shaky-heads or even crankbaits, I go with what I call the Scott Martin improved Palomar.
"When you tie a Palomar and cinch it up, the loop finishes on the top and creates a pinch point. When I'm cinching it, I'll take the little loop that's left and push it with my thumb so it ends up on the bottom. That prevents it from pinching against the line on the top.
He likes the double uni knot for blending braid and fluoro. He doesn't claim that it's any better than some others, but he can tie it quickly and efficiently in any situation.
"It's really a lack of consistency in tying those other knots. I could teach myself if I spent a lot of time at it, but when I'm out on the water and the wind's blowing and I need to catch a fish, the double uni is the one I can tie consistently. It's a good not and it's not too bulky and I can tie it in like 45 seconds."
KVD says there's no question in his mind about which knot is best for the braid/fluoro union.
"The FG knot is exponentially the best there is," he said. "There's no knot that goes through the guides better and it's the strongest and the best, hands down. There's no comparison and it's the one knot that all bass anglers need to learn."
He uses a Palomar knot for most tackle applications, including all sizes of crankbaits. For a prop bait or a popper, though, he'll opt for an improved clinch knot.
"The reason is that knot comes straight out of the eye and it's longer, so it keeps everything from getting tangled up."
Andy Montgomery learned most of what he knows about knots from Aaron Martens.
"I was having problems with Palomar knots breaking 7 or 8 years ago, and Aaron told me to tie the single uni for fluorocarbon straight to a bait," he said. "About 3 or 4 years ago I was having a lot of bad luck (with the braid/fluoro connection) and he told me to use the FG knot for that.
Andy Montgomery's knot-tying kills have greatly improved thanks to help from Aaron Martens.
"I'd heard of the FG before, but I'd never been able to tie it. After he taught me, it wasn't any problem. He's always been my go-to guy for line and hooks."
Mike Iaconelli employs the same improved clinch knot that he began tying in high school for small to mid-size baits.
"It burns a little less on the cinch than a Palomar knot and that cinching portion is so important," he said. "I've had very little failure with it on fluorocarbon or monofilament."
He uses the Palomar when tying directly with braid – unless he's flipping with a straight-shank hook. In that case, he'll go with a snell job.
He's in agreement with VanDam that the FG knot is superior to all others for the braid/fluoro union.
"I'm not real quick with it; I'll sit down and take my time. It's the absolute best for running through the guides and other knots you can't get as neat on the tag ends – after they've gone through the guides for a while you'll see some damage and eventually failure at the knot.
"Guys who use other knots have to tie on a new leader every day. With an FG, you don't have to do that."
For tying a hook, jighead or bait to fluorocarbon, Jordan Lee uses what he called "the legit knot" in this recent Instagram post:
For crankbaits and some other applications that don't require hard hooksets, he'll tie a standard clinch knot (once known simply as "the fisherman's knot"). For the braid/fluoro link, he uses an FG knot if he's got plenty of time on his hands and an Alberto knot if he's in a hurry.
"The Alberto is quick and good and it won't break on fish, but if you get hung up on the bottom and go to pulling, a lot of times that knot will break and you have to redo year leader," he said. "If you get hung up with an FG, it'll break at the bait."
Stephen Browning uses only one knot – the Palomar – for tying directly to a bait, jig or hook.
"I've been with Gamma since '06 and that knot with that line works extremely well for me," he said. "It's a case of when something's not broke, there's no need to try and fix it."
He's yet another proponent of the FG knot for the braid/fluoro connection.
"To be honest, I haven't mastered it with 6-pound line," he said. "But with 8-pound or bigger, that's the one I tie. I think it casts so much better with the rods I use and there's an extreme amount of strength in it. It took me a while to learn to tie it in a timely manner and tie it right – getting everything to overlap where it's supposed to can take time and in a lot of cases you don't have a lot of time.
"For 6-pound line, I use the double uni. I just can't get (the FG) to grip 6 like I can the heavier line."