How to Tie a Clinch Knot (Step-By-Step With Video)

Quickly learn how to tie a clinch knot following this easy guide with step-by-step photo instructions, plus an easy to follow video tutorial.

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In this knot tutorial, we’ll look at how to tie a Clinch Knot. For many of us, the Clinch Knot, or Fisherman’s Knot as it’s sometimes called, is the first fishing knot we were taught. I’ve been using it for more than 20 years and know it’s shortcomings and strong points.

Most of my fly fishing day trips are for wild rainbow trout close to Cape Town, South Africa. The streams are gin clear and the fish are, generally, in the range of 8 to 15 inches. The appropriate flies range from size 12 to 20 and are used on tippet sizes from 5X to 7X.

The Clinch Knot is ideal for this type of fishing as regular fly changes and small knot sizes are required.

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Watch The How to Tie a Clinch Knot Video

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The Clinch Knot is used in many fly fishing scenarios. I make use of this knot, together with the Uni-Knot, 80% of the time. The best applications for the knot are:

  • Attaching flies of size 8 and smaller when no loop connection is required.
  • Using monofilament or fluorocarbon in sizes 2X and smaller.
  • Attaching tippet rings to leaders.
  • Quick rigging of a dropper to a dry fly in a dry-dropper rig. In this application, a section of tippet is fixed directly to the hook bend of a dry fly. A nymph is attached to the other end of the tippet, also using a Clinch Knot.
  • I use the Clinch Knot to attach a leader to the loop on freshwater fly lines.


There’s no such thing as a perfect knot. Rather, a knot is better suited to a certain application. Through my time spent fishing, I’ve had my fair share of fish lost due to using incorrect knots or tying them poorly.

Here are some applications where I prefer using other knots or when I modify the Clinch Knot:

  • Ultra-thin fluorocarbon (7x and smaller) on relatively large hooks (12 and 14). I must admit, this scenario doesn’t come up that often and would depend greatly on the specific fluorocarbon used. What happens is that the knot slips slightly and comes undone. Here, I make use of the Improved Clinch Knot.
  • The Clinch Knot will not allow free movement of the fly. This is especially true on thick diameter leaders and tippets. To ensure free movement of the fly, use a suitable loop knot such as a Perfection Loop or Homer Rhodes.

Let’s Get Started!

How To Tie a Clinch Knot

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to tie a Clinch Knot. Although the knot itself remains the same, anglers have different ways to tie it. The procedure below is easy to follow and one that I mostly use.

Step 1: Thread The Line Through The Hook Eye

clinch_knot_step1Thread the tip of the leader or tippet material through the eye of the hook.

If you’re practicing this knot for the first time, pull at least 2 inches of the material through the eye.

Step 2: Pinch The Hook Eye

clinch_knot_step2Place the fly in your right hand and pinch the line in the hook with your right thumb and middle finger.

This will hold the fly and tippet material in place, forming a loop as you proceed with the next step.

Step 3: Wrap The Tag End

how to tie a clinch knot step 3Wrap the tag end around the tippet. I prefer winding it going over the tippet as it gives me more control and retains tension. The number of wraps will be determined by the diameter of the material you’re using.

In most freshwater applications 6 wraps are perfect. I use 8 wraps when using 7X or 8X tippet.

Step 4: Pass The Tag End Through The Loop

clinch knot tutorial step 4Pass the tip of the tag end through the loop at the base of the hook eye with your left hand.

Ensure that the fly is kept pinched with your right hand, as it tends to spin, reducing the number of wraps made in the previous step.

Step 5: Form The Knot

learn to tie a clinch knot step 5Now, pull on both the leader and the tag end to form the knot. At this stage, don’t pull the knot all the way tight, it’s important to stop here before moving onto the next steps as step 6 is very important.

When the knot is formed, it should remain closed even when you remove your hand from the hook and the line, but there should be space between the wraps.

Step 6: Wet The Knot

learn to tie a clinch knot step 5This is the important step I was talking about in Step 5 and the reason why it’s important not to pull any knot tight right away.

Wet the knot using saliva. This will assist the knot to slip easily and seat correctly. It will also prevent the tippet material to burn and cut into itself, making for a stronger connection.

Step 7: Seat The Knot

tying a clinch knot step 7Grip the fly at the hook eye or bend. Make sure to grip it well as any slipping may lead to hooking yourself.

Pull the standing line (going to the reel) while maintaining tension on the tag end to seat the knot.

Step 8: Test The Knot

knot tying tutorial clinch knot step 8Wrap the tippet or leader in your hand and test the integrity of the knot.

Now, the amount of pressure you can apply will be determined by the breaking strain of the material you’re using.

Step 9: Trim The Tag End

easy way to tie a clinch knot step 9Once you’re happy with the knot’s strength, cut off the excess tag end, leaving a short piece. A word of advice is not to use your teeth.

Get a pair of nippers or pliers, it will save you on dentistry bills.

The Completed Clinch Knot

knot tying tutorial clinch knot step 8Now You Know How To Tie a Clinch Knot

As you can see, the Clinch Knot is easy to tie. Once you get used to the knot, you’ll know how it looks when seated properly. When pulling the knot tight, I look for a slight reassuring “click”.

And remember, the best knot is the one you’ve practiced and know the best. Only use the knots you are comfortable with when out on the water. Good knots will allow you to catch more fish and result in less fish swimming around with Woolly Buggers stuck in their mouths.

Please leave any comments and questions at the bottom of the page. Let us know what your experiences are with the Clinch Knot and which knots you prefer.

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Pierre is a fly fishing guide and professional photographer who has guided and hosted trips for top fly fishing outfitters. Since being introduced to fly fishing over 21 years ago, he has travelled, fished and guided across the globe. He has extensive knowledge on specific gear and tackle selection for various salt- and freshwater species. Some of his writing work includes blogposts for Alphonse Fishing Company and African Waters.

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