How to Tie the Davy Knot (Step-By-Step With Video)

An easy-to-follow step-by-step guide including photos for a each step & a video to show you how to tie a davy knot the quickest way possible.

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In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to tie the Davy Knot. We’ll cover everything you need to know about the knot, including when to use it and when not to use it.

During summer, I fish our local small trout streams at least once a week. The fish are inquisitive but extremely picky. I generally start with a searching fly combination in a dry-dropper rig. Sometimes, the fish will swim up to the fly and refuse. Although this seems like a bad thing, the fish did blow its cover.

In this scenario, you need a knot to make a very quick fly change. The Davy Knot works perfectly in this case. Whether it’s for trout flies or big saltwater flies. If the attractor fly was a hopper or large RAB (Red Arsed Bastard), my first change is to a size 18 Parachute Mayfly.

With the Davy Knot, I can make the fly change in less than 20 seconds. The most rewarding of all is if the same fish swims up and eats the new fly without hesitation.

History of The Davy Knot

The Davy Knot was created by the Welsh fly fisherman, Davy Wotton. He specifically designed it for competition scenarios where changing flies need to be fast. The result was a knot that’s not only quick to tie but has a very small size.

Applications of The Davy Knot

I mainly use the Davy Knot when I need to make a very quick fly change. This is often the case in competition angling, where you’re fishing against the clock. The less time you spend tying knots, the more time you have with your fly in the water. Ultimately, and assuming you’re using the correct fly, this translates into catching more fish.

Opening fly box from pocket in fly fishing vest on river

The Davy Knot isn’t just a great knot for competition anglers. It’s one of the knots I recommend to fellow anglers when using small flies. The knot has an incredibly small size. For this reason, it’s ideal for attaching size 16 and smaller flies to a very thin tippet.

Davy Knot Strengths

The strengths of the Davy Knot are:

  • Quick to tie.
  • When the angler becomes proficient in tying the Davy Knot, he/she can do so with minimal tag-end wastage.
  • Can be tied on short lengths of line, making it perfect for dropper rigs.
  • The small size makes it suitable for small flies and tippet sizes.

Davy Knot Shortfalls

The Davy Knot does have its weaknesses. Knowing these weaknesses will enable you to choose when, and more importantly, when not to use it.

  • Not the strongest knot out there. If targeting large, once in a lifetime fish, I would use a different knot.
  • The standard Davy Knot does slip on some fluorocarbon material.

Watch The How to Tie the Davy Knot Video

YouTube video

Let’s Get Started!

How To Tie a Davy Knot

Let’s have a look at exactly how to tie the Davy Knot. Please note, this is the procedure I use and may differ from other angler’s method. In my opinion, this is the fastest and easiest method to quickly tie a davy knot.

If you are a beginner just looking to learn how to tie a davy knot, then this simple, step-by-step tutorial with a video and photos should be able to walk you through the process to be tying davy knots like a pro in no time.

Step 1: Grip The Fly

how to tie a davy knot step 1

Hold the fly or hook securely between the thumb and middle finger of your left hand. The hook eye must be accessible both from the top and bottom.

I find it works best when you place the two fingers just behind the eye of the hook. In that way, it’s easy to pinch the line when tying the knot.

Step 2: Thread The Line

davy knot tutorial step 2

Thread the end of the tippet through the hook eye from above. Pull through about 2-4 inches of line. The more familiar you get with tying the knot, the less tag-end you’ll need.

When you’re first starting out though, it’s best to give yourself plenty of extra line to avoid having the knot slip free on the hook eye.

Step 3: Form a Loop

davy knot tying tutorial step 3

Form a loop with the tag-end over the standing line. Pinch this intersection between your right-hand thumb and middle finger.

With this loop secured in your hand, you can then continue moving onto the next steps.

Step 4: Form a Half Hitch

davy fly fishing knot tutorial step 4

Wrap the tag-end over the standing line and pass it back through the loop you created. In essence, this forms a Half Hitch.

At this point you’ll have a partial knot tied through the eye of the hook.

Step 5: Wrap The Tag End in The Opposite Direction

learn to tie a davy knot step 5

Now, wrap the tag-end around the bottom leg of the loop, but in the opposite direction than the previous wrap.

This step is basically completing the wraps of the Davy knot and you can see how it will form from here.

Step 6: Grip The Tag End

step by step davy knot step 6

Grip the tag-end between your left-hand index finger and thumb.

Step 7: Pull On The Standing Line

easy davy knot step 7

While holding the fly and tag-end in your left hand, pull on the standing line to form the knot.

You’ll notice that it looks very similar to a modified figure-of-eight knot.

Step 8: Wet The Knot

easy davy knot step 7

Wet the knot with some saliva. This process will lubricate it to ensure that it seats well and prevent the line from burning itself.

It’s best to get in the habit of wetting all of your knots before seating them to ensure they are securely fastened and won’t slip.

Step 9: Seat The Knot

davy knot tutorial step 9

Seat the knot by pulling on the standing line. Remember to keep tension on the tag end.

Step 10: Inspect The Knot

davy knot guide completed davy knot

The tag-end of the Davy Knot faces backward when tied incorrectly. If seated correctly, the tag end is perpendicular to the standing line.

Step 11: Trim Off The Tag End

how to tie davy knot step 11

Trim the tag-end with a pair of nippers or scissors. Be careful to cut too close to the knot.

The Completed Davy Knot

davy knot guide completed davy knot

Now You Know.

How To Tie a Davy Knot

As you can see, the Davy Knot is a very simple fly to tie. Apart from the knot tying procedure itself, there are two more important things that you need to take from this article. The first is that it’s important to know when to use the knot. This will make you a more capable angler.

The second is to practice the knot thoroughly before using it on the water. Pay attention to what each finger does, the amount of tension you use during the knot, and exactly how it looks when seated properly.

If you found this article helpful, please share it with your angling friends. Leave any questions and comments at the bottom of the page.

Until next time.

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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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