There are all sorts of fancy ways to con­nect your shock­leader, but this is our ex­pert’s choice, par­tic­u­larly when on the beach


Tie the best leader knot.

AGoogle search for an­gling knots throws up scores of them, rang­ing from the fa­mil­iar to the frankly weird. Which do we need for beach fish­ing? Strength and re­li­a­bil­ity top the list.

A small, neat knot that speeds cleanly through the rod rings is the ob­vi­ous pri­or­ity for at­tach­ing a shock­leader. It helps if the knot can be trimmed neatly to avoid trap­ping weed and other muck on the tag ends. And surely the more ver­sa­tile a knot is, the bet­ter?

The crit­i­cal fac­tor, for me, is how easy a knot is to tie on the beach, es­pe­cially in poor con­di­tions and where speed counts. I don’t mind spend­ing a happy hour at home mess­ing about with all kinds of knots purely to see how they work and how strong they are.

Some of the com­plex hitches de­vel­oped to form the best pos­si­ble con­nec­tion be­tween dis­parate ma­te­ri­als are works of art. They are per­fect to con­nect braids of widely dif­fer­ent di­am­e­ters, braid to monofil or braid or monofil to trace wire. Many of them of­fer a tech­ni­cal edge as well, in­clud­ing strength and abra­sion-re­sis­tance, which can be the make or break fac­tor in big game fish­ing or with ul­tra-light tackle.


Knot­ting ad­ven­tures are all very well for arm­chair en­ter­tain­ment, but the whole thing usu­ally col­lapses in the harsh (and of­ten wet and freez­ing) re­al­ity of beach fish­ing UK style.

I once spent hours at home per­fect­ing a won­der­ful leader knot. First cast on the beach, the bait soared away as smooth as silk. And that was the last I saw of my su­per-knot, for the rig snagged in rocks and I lost the lot.

It was a sim­ple choice: strug­gle for ages by torch­light with wet hands to recre­ate the magic hitch, or go back to my fa­mil­iar old leader knot and be fish­ing within a cou­ple of min­utes. A no-brainer, surely?

I use the uni-knot al­most ex­clu­sively. Other knots come and go, but the uni-knot and its vari­a­tions soldier on, as use­ful for most braid and hi-tech monofil­a­ments as it is with or­di­nary ny­lon. It is easy and quick to tie and snugs down into a neat bar­rel of coils. Its wet knot strength is around 90 per cent of the line’s break­ing strain; and in my ex­pe­ri­ence that ap­plies al­most re­gard­less of line ma­te­rial.

Fix­ing thin braid to monofil can be a touch awk­ward, and car­ries some risk of hav­ing the braid cut into softer ny­lons. How­ever, dou­bling the strand of braid be­fore ty­ing seems to cure that.

I am not say­ing that this is the right knot for ev­ery­body, es­pe­cially where hi-tech lines and spe­cial­ist fish­ing meth­ods are in­volved, but as a sim­ple and ver­sa­tile means of at­tach­ing lead­ers, ty­ing on hooks, stop knots and rig-mak­ing in gen­eral, the uni-knot de­serves se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion for all-round beach work.

Although there are a few handy vari­a­tions on the theme, the ba­sic ver­sion is ex­cel­lent. It is the first knot to learn, and for many fish­er­men it will also be all they ever need. ■

Form a loop in the reel line and hold it against the shock­leader.

Tighten the loop in the leader all the way so it grips the reel line.

Push reel line through on same side of loop that leader ex­its.

Form a sim­ple over­hand knot in your shock­leader ma­te­rial.

Leave 3-4mm of leader as a tag end. It won’t catch in rod rings.

Wet line, tighten fully and trim reel line about 2mm from coils.

Tighten the reel line coils and slide up to knot in the leader.

Take around leader and through loop five times. Pull gen­tly.

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