- Nov 6, 2022
Best Knots for Crappie fishing: 4 Guides’ Top Choices
The best knot to use depends in part on the techniques you use and tackle you choose. Four top crappie guides tell why the choose the knots they use.
“Honestly, I can’t think of ever being able to blame a knot for breaking my line,” said Missouri Lake of the Ozarks crappie guide Terry Blankenship. For a guy who’s fished bass and crappie tournaments for nearly 40 years, that’s a strong statement. It’s also a testament to the knot he relies on for practically every line-to-lure connection.
Blankenship qualified his comment that he has had lines break while fishing, but he felt the causes were line damage, such as abrasion, nicks and/or weak spots for whatever reasons. That is why he constantly inspects his line for potential problems, and why he always uses the knot he knows and trusts best.
Any knot is typically going to be the weakest point along the line. That’s why it is important to go with a knot that matches your preferred equipment and style of fishing and one that you can tie perfectly again and again to achieve the level of confidence Blankenship has in his.
Fishing knots run the gamut, in terms of types, versions and names, and they can be as simple or as complicated as you wish. Google the phrase “best fishing knots” and you’re going to find more than 17 million search results. That shows the attention to the topic, but also the extreme diversity among knot philosophies that exist.
So, is it necessary for crappie fishermen to know several knots to be able to employ the right ones in different situations?
The simplest answer is,“no.” Not based on our visits with four full-time crappie guides who spend countless hours taking clients on some of the best crappie waters in the country. Our recommendation is to review the information that follows and try any of their knots that match your favorite style of crappie fishing. If none fit, we’ll be the first to tell you to keep looking, because there’s plenty more out there!
TERRY BLANKENSHIP, Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
“I’m sure this knot has several different names, but I call it the ‘tournament knot’ because it’s easy and fast to tie, and in my mind that translates into ‘hurry up and get back to fishing’ since you have to have a jig in the water to catch fish,” Blankenship explained. He is fast at tying it, so you better not blink if watching his tying demonstration video or you’ll miss the details.
Blankenship primarily uses monofilament fishing line, and occasionally fluorocarbon – both in 6- and 8-pound-test. By preference, his knot of choice allows him to cinch the line tightly against the hook to keep it in place, allowing him to control how the jighead hangs.
“Different jigheads have different centers of gravity because of their designs, so I can compensate accordingly by cinching my knot tight to the hook to make my crappie bait hang in the horizontal, natural-looking baitfish position. I’ve been doing this for so long that half the time I don’t even realize I’m almost always checking, repositioning the knot after a missed strike or following retrieval of a snagged jig. I want my Mayfly or Baby Shad Swim’R to always look like a realistic meal.”
LEE PITTS, Weiss and Neely Henry Lakes, Alabama
Granny Loop Knot
Lee Pitts relies on 6-pound-test line and just one knot for the majority of his crappie fishing in northeast Alabama.
“When I have a boat load of clients and the bite is on, lures need to be in the water quickly after a re-tie. My go-to connection is what I call the Granny Loop Knot. It’s a simple, quick and easy knot to tie that I know will get the job done. While it might not be the strongest when sampled on a knot-testing machine, I can tell you I’ve seen it land catfish of over 30 pounds. Of course, that’s an extreme weight in comparison to a crappie’s, but we do catch a lot of big white and black slabs around here, and I know this knot will handle ‘em all.”
Pitts says he likes using a loop knot because it allows the jig to move around freely, giving more action to a Minnow Mind’R or Slab Slay’R on the fall when dock shooting, and really makes a Baby Shad’s tail dance and quiver when the bite is on for baits being bumped along the bottom.
BRAD CHAPPELL, Ross Barnett Reservoir, Mississippi
Double Loop Clinch Knot, Loop Knot
One of the country’s best at trolling for crappie, Brad Chappell, uses braid only when pulling crankbaits. For that technique, he ties braid directly to a size #1 snap swivel, using a Double Loop Clinch Knot. The knot works well for other lines and applications, but Chappell limits its use to crankbaits.
For all other crappie techniques, he prefers a different knot. “I don’t care much for using braid other than for pulling crankbaits, and sometimes when fishing extremely heavy cover, but most of the time I’m fishing with monofilament and using a loop knot for my jigs . I’ll vary my line sizes in the 6- to 10-pound-test range, depending on whether I’m casting Itty Bits or Baby Shad Swim’Rs, or long lining Stroll’Rs, but the knot is the same for all.”
DUSTIN MCDANIEL, Grand Lake, Oklahoma
Dustin McDaniel uses one of fishing’s most time-tested knots, the Palomar, for all his crappie fishing, regardless of technique and line type. “I fish mostly fluorocarbon and braid, and I use the Palomar knot for both, including the tying of braid directly to my jighead. It’s a fast and easy knot to tie, and tests as one of the strongest.”
“I like fluorocarbon because it sinks a little faster than other types of line, plus the fact it is virtually invisible underwater in the 6- and 8-pound sizes that I use the most. Those properties, along with fluorocarbon usually having smaller diameters, work especially well for my preference of fishing the Bobby Garland Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R in finicky situations and for big roamers in open water. Braid and monofilament have more of a tendency to float, so they fall slower. Sometimes I’ll use that to my advantage, but I’m normally using braid when fishing around heavy cover, and typically go with 10- to 15-pound test.
The blood knot is a good option for uniting two lines of similar diameters, even if different materials. It’s especially a good choice when you want the knot to pass easily through rod guides during cast and retrieve. Examples for practical blood knot use include: when you want to add line to a reel’s spool without totally replacing all of the line, or when you want to add a fluorocarbon leader to braid or monofilament as a less obvious connection to a jig during a finicky bite or for a finesse tactic.
Tips “Knot” To Be Forgotten
- When a knot requires doubling of the line through the small hook eye of a crappie jighead, such as the Palomar does, you might find it easier to simply thread the end of the line through first, and then turn it back around to run it back out the opposite way it came in to achieve the “doubled” result.
- Don’t skimp on how much line goes through the hook eye to work with. Short lengths often cause tight turns and short loops, which can result in bad knots and/or do-overs.
- Lubricate a knot (usually wetting it with saliva) before pulling it tight, especially when using monofilament and fluorocarbon. This helps reduce friction that can weaken the line; it also allows better “layering” of line within the knot
- Check your knot visually and give it a firm test tug before use. You want to be the one discovering any slippage or weak spots instead of having a feisty slab revealing that to you.
- When using a “cinch” style knot, consciously check and adjust the jig’s positioning on the line so that it hangs naturally.
- Frequently check your knot, as well as a couple of feet of line closest to it, for kinks, frays, nicks or other signs of stress that could compromise line strength.
- If there’s any doubt as to whether or not to remove a “questionable” piece of line or re-tie a jig, ALWAYS remove the piece or re-tie.
- Fresh line on a reel provides ultimate line strength and knot performance. Use quality line and respool as needed for best results.