Bob Boese, Louisiana

December 1st, 2008

Fly Fishing Strategies For Sinners
By Bob Boese, Louisiana

A useful knot is a good thing, just not the only thing.

The lower case Greek letter delta looks like this:

To mathematicians it means an infinitesimal but consequential change in the value of a variable. To the layman it is a mysterious symbol related to the unknown and recognizable only by the dark priests of abstract numbers.

The No-Knot terminal connection called a Fas-snap looks like this:

To users it means a small but consequential change in the enjoyment value of fly fishing. To the fly fishing purist it is an evil talisman, a juju, a loathsome amulet, and a vile charm of the soulless angling blasphemer.

Mathematicians believe abstract equasions can resolve undiscovered problems. Fly fishing purists believe knots can do the same.

For purists there is nothing so perfect as the uni-knot which binds them to the uni-verse, unless it is something named perfection loop. They smile at the grinner knot, yearn for caresses of the improved clinch, praise the precision of the surgeon's knot and the steadfastness of the non-slip mono loop. They laud the wisdom of the albright knot, the terminal nature of the hangman's noose, the ultimate excellence of the paragun, and the economy of the penny knot. Blasphemers consider most of knotting an enigmatic and arcane practice worthy of the occult and point out drawbacks in too much reliance on knots. Tying some knots (the non-slip mono loop) requires three hands (the Bimini Twist needs four). Others have steps (the Homer Rhode Loop) that are instantly forgotten while many are the exact same knot by different names (Uni Knot = Grinner Knot = Hangman's Noose = Paragun Knot = Grapevine Knot = Multiple Fisherman's Knot), and why someone felt compelled to put that many names on a knot that looses 25% of line strength is a real mystery. Other knots even more severely weaken line strength (both the blood bight and blood dropper knot = 40% line strength loss...ow!). And, of course, monofilament knots require wetting, and since purists all do that by licking the line, they invite Giardia…oops… but, fortunately for knot enthusiasts, they can always bring in a spool of mono and tie knots while stuck in the privy.

Blasphemers are basically lazy and do whatever works. The Fas-snap eliminates the terminal knot. [One is required to attach a Fas-snap to a leader/tippet (improved clinch or pitzen is recommended) but then, voila, no more knots, no re-tying, no mistakes. Sounds too easy doesn't it?] For larger flies – salt water flies and poppers– the Fas-snap is unobtrusive and convenient. On wet flies it allows more action and does not inhibit action on poppers. Actually, Fas-snap claims the small size won't effect dry flies (not sure I've confirmed that), but it hardly weighs more than a 6-7 turn knot, provides the freedom of a loop for fly action, and makes changing flies easy, very easy. Fas-snap is available from in packs of 30 for $7 or from in packs of 3 for 49¢.

A purist is making his own tapered leader, carefully measuring and knotting together several graduated sizes of monofilament. Fishing next to him is a blasphemer who attaches a commercial tapered leader to his line.

"I don't understand it!" the blasphemer says. "You're an accomplished fisherman and have plenty of money, yet you insist on making your own leaders."

"Let me explain," the purist says. "Statistics shows that the probability of a knot breaking is 1/1000. That's quite high if you think about it - so high that I wouldn't have any peace of mind as I was fishing."

"And what does this have to do with making your own leader?"

"You see, since the probability of one knot breaking is 1/1000, so the chance that two knots will break is 1/1,000,000. So I figure that if I tie enough knots...."

For the knot-challenged there is EZKnot (, or the TailKnotter ( and the best of these, the Tie-Fast Knotter ( With these anyone can tie a nail knot, blood knot splice or snell knot easily. Why own one? Because knots are good things…just not the only things.

The Knot Commandments:

    I. Thou shalt always choose the most suitable knot for the job at hand.

    II. Thou shalt tie it correctly and if in doubt about its strength or appearance, cut it off and re-tie it.

    III. Thou shalt draw the knot together gently.

    IV. Thou shalt not use fewer turns if more turns can be used.

    V. Thou shalt trim all knot ends.

    VI. Thou shalt lubricate monofilament before tightening down.

    VII. Thou shalt not use blunt instruments or teeth for cutting the ends of a knot.

    VIII. Thou shalt not put heat near a knot.

    IX. Thou shalt learn new knots and practice tying them.

    X. Thou shalt finish every knot neatly.

Some good knot sites: ~ Bob

About Bob:

Robert Lamar Boese has fly fished for five decades. He is an environmental negotiator, attorney and educator who has provided environmental legal services for more than thirty-three years including active duty with the U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Justice. He is a well known fly tyer with several unique patterns to his credit. He has developed and authored federal and state regulatory programs encompassing a broad spectrum of environmental disciplines, has litigated environmental matters at all levels of the federal and state court systems, and is a qualified expert for testimony in environmental law. He has authored over 60 published text chapters, comments or articles on environmental matters, is a member of the Colorado, District of Columbia and Louisiana Bar Associations, and is a certified mediator. In addition to his legal practice, Mr. Boese has been a high school teacher, an associate professor of Environmental Law and Public Health, has authored numerous fiction and sports publications, and is a softball coach and nationally certified volleyball referee. He is the president of the Acadiana Fly Rodders in Lafayette, Louisiana and editor of Acadiana on the Fly. He has been married for thirty years and is the father of two fly fishing girls (25 and 21). For additional information contact: Boese Environmental Law, 103 Riviera Court, Broussard, LA 70518 or call 337.856.7890 or email

Previous Bob Boese Columns

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice