I hesitate to include the Davy Knot as a tip in this series. There are a bunch of good fishing knots out there. They all work. Everyone has their favorite, and no one wants to be told what to do.
So I won’t tell you to change to the Davy Knot. I’ll just show you why I use it and why I switched to the Davy after I first saw it tied.
I use the Davy Knot because it’s super quick to tie, it wastes no material, and it has a small profile that allows for more movement of the fly.
I’ve been through this efficiency point before, and I think it’s an important one. If something takes too much time, anglers avoid it. We are poor analysts of cost vs benefit on the stream. We just want to fish, and if we know that tying a couple knots leads to more minutes away from casting and fishing, we won’t do it. That’s the mindset of most anglers. Somewhere in the fisher’s brain, saving seconds matters. And that’s why I use the Davy Knot.
You can tie a Davy knot in half the time it takes to tie a clinch knot. Less than that, really. Go through with the line, over, over, under and pull. Done.
It just saves time. And whether you’re a comp guy or a weekend warrior out for some simple relaxation, we all want to limit our time spent rigging things up.
Other knots require more finger twists and movements and leave a longer tag end, wasting material. After a few fly changes, you might be left with a tippet section that’s six inches shorter than you intended. Then you’re faced with tying more knots to add tippet or just pretending that six inches less doesn’t matter.
If you change flies a lot — or if you just want to feel free to change flies a lot, without shortening your tippet — use the Davy knot.
With a little practice, you can tie the Davy with such a short tag that you may not even want to clip it. Pinch the tag end in your fingers at the hook eye and pull the main line. With practice, you’ll regularly end up with an eighth-inch tag or less. Nice.
Most knots build up material with their extra twists and turns, and that material ends up next to the eye, limiting the motion of the fly. However slight this may seem, freedom of motion matters a lot when it comes to fooling fish with a fly.
The size of the Davy Knot really couldn’t be any smaller, so any limited motion comes from the tippet itself, not the wraps of the knot.
Here’s a great Tightline Productions video by Tim Flagler, perfectly demonstrating the Davy Knot.
To seat the knot, grasp the tag with your fingertips next to the eye of the hook, and pull the mainline. Do not pull the tag end to tighten.
Likewise, when you clip off the tag, be careful not to pull the tag with your nippers. That will ruin the seating of the knot and you’ll lose fish and flies. Just clip through the tag without pulling.
I use the Davy knot from the smallest tippet diameters all the way up to about 12lb Maxima Chameleon. In larger diameters, I prefer a four turn clinch.
Some anglers recommend the Double Davy Knot as an alternative. I never find the need for it. A properly tied Davy Knot does not fail. The extra wrap of the Double Davy adds a little bigger profile, takes a little more material, and wastes a little more time. It’s not necessary until you are tying with very large diameter tippets.
The Davy Knot is my go to knot for attaching all dry flies, all nymphs and most streamers. The only other knot I use is a loop knot for large streamers on a stiff line.
Ask Davy Wotten
I’ve used the Davy knot for better than a decade, but I’ve always been curious how it originated. So I asked Davy Wotton himself. Here’s what he told me.
Back in the 50s, when l was a kid and started to fish, l had no idea of how to tie fishing knots. In those days it was worm fishing for the small wild browns, until one day l watched a man who was a friend of my family who came to fly fish. That’s what got me interested in fly fishing. l figured the knot out myself. It was the only way l knew how to tie on a hook, and later a fly. From that time on and for 1000’s of fish, with a few exceptions l use no other.
Seriously, learn the Davy Knot and love your life.
Fish hard, friends.
Enjoy the day.
T R O U T B I T T E N