Grit Blogs > Arrows and Minnows

I’d Better Knot

By Caleb Regan, Managing Editor

Tags: fishing, outdoors, knots, farm,

As a youngster, my mother taught me how to tie a basic fishing knot before I can remember. She had fished the same farm pond ‑ 30 years earlier ‑ that I would fish throughout my childhood, and she had me tying my own knots as I first learned to bait a hook and cast a fishing pole. In fact, I think I may have learned how to tie a basic fishing knot while wearing Velcro sneakers, or at least it was close.

The knot is paramount to any fisherman. And, in a lifestyle where quick, improvised countermeasures can mean the difference between such things as getting a hay harvest in before the rain or not, knots are sometimes equally important in farm life.

Aside from fishing as a young boy, I dangled from our two-story hayloft on more than one occasion, and I know my health was preserved because someone, maybe before I was born, constructed a solid knot in the rope upon which I was dangling.

Less seriously but equally important at the time, knots salvaged the quality of many a winter day when any number of unfortunate events would sever one of the ropes tied behind my father’s 1966 Chevy truck (“Old Blue”). A quick square knot later and all three sleds could again be racing through snow drifts.

Something about the need to improvise in the country seems to make knots used more frequently than in urban life, and old farmers – in my experience – always seem to have one or two go-to cinches.

Myself, whether it’s just luck or the actual quality of knot, I’ve always had the best luck with fish while using the improved clinch knot (a variation of the taut-line hitch, shown in our “Tie the 10 Most Useful Knots”).

The timber hitch is my knot of choice when cinching horses to trees. It has yet to leave me stranded, holding nothing but a grudge against a particular type of knot ‑ often the result when you get burned by one you feel you tied securely.

What about you? What sorts of knots have you had the best and worst luck with?

Caleb Regan and his wife, Gwen, live in rural Douglas County, Kansas, where they enjoy hunting, fishing, and raising and growing as much of their own food as they can. Caleb can’t imagine a better scenario than getting to work on a rural lifestyle magazine as a profession, and then living that same lifestyle right in the heartland of America. Connect with him on .