How do you connect your leader butt to the fly line?
Luckily, many of today's fly lines have those handy welded loops built-in. This allows you to join your leader to the fly line via simple loop-to-loop connection. Unfortunately, some value-conscious fly lines do not come with these welded loops. If you have a line lacking loops or perhaps you had to cut a loop off because it became badly worn, you can either make a loop yourself, or use one of several knots. In this case I always choose the latter which is to just tie a simple knot from the fly line to the leader butt. Two of the easiest and most popular knot choices here are the Nail Knot and Albright Knot. I've used both over the years, but there are pros and cons to each....let's run through a few of those!
Nail Knot: The Nail Knot is a relatively simple knot structurally and got its name because an actual nail can be used to help tie it. I can't personally remember ever using a nail, but I find the knot very quick and easy to tie using a tool such as the Tie-Fast tool. The Nail Knot is great because when tied correctly it's low profile which helps it stay clean in the water and pass through rod guides with minimal interference.
The Nail Knot is cinched-down around the fly line, so it basically grabs onto the fly line's surface when tightened. Since there's really no reinforcing or "locking" aspect of this knot, I've always considered it a light-duty knot. Now, I can't recall ever having one fail, but I've never used it for any true big fish applications, either. Regardless of what I've read and heard, just looking at the knot's design is enough to keep me from using it for anything beyond just smaller fish. How much can a Nail Knot endure before failing/slipping? I don't know, and I don't intend to find out!
Albright Knot: For most of my fly fishing, the Albright Knot is my favorite fly line to leader connection knot. It's definitely bulkier in comparison to the Nail Knot so it won't pass through rod guides as cleanly, but to me that's a small price to pay for the added confidence it provides. The thing I like about the Albright is that the fly line is doubled over when tying it which helps lock the knot better. It's a strong knot that I've used on big fish like large snook, false albacore, and tarpon with no failures or worries of one. If anything pops here, it's likely somewhere along the leader itself.
The thick diameters of the fly line and leader butt can make the Albright a bit tougher to tie in this instance, but by using a longer tag-end on the leader and wrapping a few less times around the fly line (about 5–6), it's manageable with practice and a stout grip. Besides being strong and able to handle large fish, another plus is that no tool is needed for the Albright.
If you haven't seen it yet, check out our simple knot tying tutorial section right HERE.