A Beginner's Guide on How to Tie a Fish Hook: 5 Basic Knots You Should Know

Fishing represents a relaxing, time-honoured way to spend a morning or late evening on or alongside a body of water. Of course, this placid view of the activity comes from a type of hindsight. Getting started in fishing, like most hobbies, takes a period of frustration, struggle, and learning. 

Mistakes in which rod to use for what fish and which tackle works to which serve primarily ornamental or niche purposes hurts the wallet but not much else. Learning how to tie a fish hook, on the other hand, is essential and hurts in some other ways when done wrong.  

Getting a fish hook through the hand, while painful is ultimately survivable, but serves as a poor introduction to the sport for the little fishers in your life.

Avoid frustration (and injury) by learning these five essential hook tying knots before you venture out to the water. 

How to Tie a Fish Hook

Fishing knots, like many of the technologies involved in fishing, developed over centuries with trial and error. Some knots are faster and easier while others provide enhanced strength and tension retention. 

Some knots are interchangeable, and like other tech, some have replaced older, more complicated variations. As fishing poles developed, some knots became less common while new ones were needed to facilitate speedier rigging changes. 

1. Loop Knot

The loop knot is the essential starting knot for fishing. This is both strong and simple to construct and enables some give for the hook which provides more natural movement underwater.

Take the end of the line and tie a simple over/under loop about 10 cm from the end of the line. Don't pull the loop tight.

Thread the end of the line through the eye of the hook and then back up into the loop of the knot. Work or slide the knot down to the hook while pulling the tag end up toward the mainline.

This puts a loop next to the hook and spare line above it. Wrap the tag line around the mainline three to five times to reinforce the line. Then push the tag line through the loop next to the hook. 

Now it is time to slowly tighten the knot. Pull on each side gently, but firmly, back and forth until the knot is small and tight. Many fishers add water to shrink the line and prevent heat from straining the line during the final tightening.

Holding onto the hook to hard enough to get a tight knot is a common source of injury. Using a HookEze product keeps fingers safe and grips tight. 

You will end with a 3-5 cm loop between the hook and the knot. Cut off the remaining tag line near the knot and you are finished. 

2. Bimini Twist

Tying a loop knot for every single hook every time you need a different hook isn't ideal. For quick swaps, the bimini twist reinforces the end of the line to accommodate even heavy fishing rigs. 

Start with a large loop of line. Place the loop around an object (not a finger, you need both hands) and then twist the line twenty times. You need even, constant pressure on both the tag and mainline for a proper twist. 

Once the twenty twists are complete, maintain pressure on the mainline and lower the tag line.

Wrap the tag line around the twists an additional twenty times moving forward towards the loop. At the loop, make a half-hitch knot on the mainline side of the loop. From the end of the loop make an additional series of three to five half-hitches.

Pull everything tight against the base of the knot at the head of the loop. Cut off the tag line but leave 2 cm or so of line and the knot is complete. 

3. Snelling a Hook

This knot is for attaching a hook to a thin line without creating give between the line and the hook. When using thing line it's easy for the hook to get lost or lodged in removal from a fish. Snelling reinforces the line on the hook to give better purchase for extraction, especially on smaller hooks. 

Push the tag line through the hook's eye not once but twice. This will create a loop along the edge of the hook. 

Wrap the line from the loop around the hook and tag line roughly eight to ten times. This will form tight coils under the eye of the hook.

Pull the mainline to bring the tag line upward and tighten the coils against the hook.

4. Palomar Knot

Similar to snelling, the Palomar knot attaches a hook to the line to reinforce the eye and make it easier to handle the hook itself.

For long, sheer hooks or tackle with multiple hooks on a rig, this provides a better grip, especially when pulling the hook from slimy or weedy areas.

Create a loop of line and push the loop itself through the hook eye.

Tie a half-hitch through with the loop, this will create two overlapping knots along the top of the eye. 

Pull the loop down and over the hook base and barb. Pull the knot tight and then trim.

5. Double Surgeon's Loop

This final knot is a quick way to get line ready for attaching swivels or clips. The surgeon's loop isn't as strong as a bimini twist but effective and simple.

Make a loop of line and then tie a quick half-hitch with the loop, creating an overlapped knot.

Pull the loop through the loose overlapped knot once and then pull and tighten. 

This doubles up the strength of line and the knot uses the line's own resistance to pull tighter under a load. 

Cast Out

There are plenty of other ways to learn how to tie a fish hook. Some work with different thickness of the line and others build off these basics, introducing further twists for added strength or even additional lines. 

With so much to learn to become a master fisher, it's best to get in practice on the basics and then learn skills and techniques related to a specific fish and fishing environments until you've garnered a wide swath of knowledge.

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