The non-slip loop knot is one of the best ways to allow your flies freedom of movement in the water, but it can be somewhat slow and frustrating to tie. Here’s a cool trick to get you tying non-slip loop knots like a pro.
The key to success is a versatile little tool called a mitten scissor clamp. It has numerous advantages over forceps or hemostats. What really makes this tool different is how it clamps. One click to clamp, a second click to clamp a little tighter but a third click completely releases the tool and uses a spring to open its jaws. Again, one click to hold the jaws shut, a second click to clamp them even tighter and a third click to open them automatically.
The fact that the tool has scissors is an added bonus, and with a serrated edge, they cut exceptionally well. The portion of the jaws with teeth hold even slippery materials super tight while the flattened tips work great for more delicate jobs like mashing hook barbs. The tapered outer parts of the jaws also come in handy, particularly for tying a non-slip loop knot.
To tie a non-slip loop knot with a mitten scissor clamp, begin as you normally would by doing an overhand knot with the tag coming toward you out of the resultant loop. A 3” tag is plenty. Get hold of the tag and feed it through the eye of the hook. It doesn’t matter in which direction. Pull the tag through the eye and insert it down away from you through the loop formed by the overhand knot. Get the tag oriented parallel to the running line. You should be left with 2 loops, one through the eye of the fly and the other formed by the overhand knot. Place the tips of your mitten scissor clamp up through just the overhand knot loop and pull everything tight down toward the eye of the fly. Pinch the tag end and the running line with the fingertips of your right hand and begin twisting the tag around the running line, anywhere from 5 to 7 times.
Once the turns are complete, open the jaws of the mitten clamp and use them to grab the tag end. Pull the tag back through the overhand knot loop and then pull to begin closing the knot. You can use the jaws of the mitten clamp to help you do this. To further seat the knot, close the clamp and use the handles to continue pulling the knot tight. Another little pull on the tag will close the knot still further. Finally, use the scissors part of the tool to snip the tag off fairly close.
I find this method far easier and much faster than tying the knot with just my hands and almost always end up with a way smaller loop, which I like. Up close, the finished knot should look something like this. Give it a try.