Upgrade to an improved clinch knot
  |  First Published: October 2015

The improved clinch knots are a commonly chosen choice for tying terminal tackle components like hooks and swivels to light monofilament-type lines under 10-15kg in breaking strain.

Their strongest recommendations come from those who say that the improved versions are a simple connection to tie for those that already know the standard clinch knot; and that they perform reliably when tied diligently. My suggestion is that if you use a standard clinch knot, then please consider upgrading to an improved clinch knot.

The clinch knot (aka half-blood knot) style of knot was developed after WWII about the time that nylon type fishing lines came onto the market. By at least the early ‘70s the original clinch knot became well known for its tendency to slip, especially when wet. Hence the improved clinch (aka locked-half blood knot, or tucked half-blood) became more popular and saw common use as the preferred knot of the times. Another modification of the knot is the double-loop-clinch (aka Trilene knot) with two loops through the hook’s eye.

Note that in some locales, the clinches are referred to as barrel knots and their locked versions are called clinches; another nomenclature variation is to refer to a clinched half-blood. I’ve also heard reference to a full blood knot when referring to the double-loop-clinch. However, I am not fond of this term as in my opinion it confuses with the ‘blood knot’; the blood knot in itself being a useful knot for joining two lines of approximately equal diameter and properties together.

These clinches and more importantly the improved clinches owe their popularity, which still exists today, to their engrained tradition; variations of them are passed down from father to child, generation after generation. However, even though they are known by some as a strangulation knot, they can and will slip unexplainably if poorly tied.

Clinches do have a slightly lower knot strength than some others when analysed in many of the ‘% of breaking strain’ knot tests; in reality though – if you are using a leader that is slightly heavier than your mainline, such as when using 10kg leader when flathead fishing with 4kg mainline, then a few percent difference isn’t a serious consideration. As previously mentioned, it is worth remembering that it pays to focus for a moment or two when tying your knots, a poorly tied clinch can weaken your line down to about 70%.

The San Diego Jam (covered in an earlier QFM) is a stronger knot than the clinches because the San Diego wraps around both the tag end and standing line (main line), thus the knot has a better cushion. Clinch knots wrap only one strand.

I also featured the Uni Knot recently. I like the Uni Knot because it is very easy to tie, quick to tie and I can tie it in the dark.

Next month I’ll cover the other knot mentioned in the rankings above, the Palomar knot, which is ideal for drop-shotting and any presentation where you wish the hook to stand perpendicular to the line.

Breaking strain ratings of popular knots (%)

San Diego jam94%
Palomar knot91%
Five-turn double clinch (or Trilene knot)87%
Five-turn improved clinch86%
Reads: 1080

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