Nail-less Nail Knot
Nail knots can be a pain to tie—especially when you really need one and there is nary a tool in sight (or you don’t know how to use said tool). Well, a “Nail-less” Nail Knot is a slick and quick alternative that yields a long-term solution. There are a few “nail-less” variations out there; the one shown here is based on the Uni-knot, but with one important difference (which makes a real difference): a twist.
The basic, Uni-based “Nail-less Nail Knot” has been around for a while (Al Kyte’s 1982 book shows it, for example), but the twist variation was something that GB came up with in the mid-80s. The twist solves an annoying issue with the basic (non-twisted) Nail-less, in that a loop or “extra coil” of material often appears when the knot is tied in heavier monofilament (the kind one frequently uses for a leader butt-section). With the twisting action (done right), the Nail-less pulls up quite cleanly, sans “extra” bits. Tied with a further “Needle-Knot” variation, the twisted Nail-less is amazingly tidy.
So is this twisted Nail-less a “true” nail knot? Pulling apart both the twisted Nail-less and a “true” Nail Knot seems to show that while they are very close in structure, they are not identical. In real-world use, however, the twisted Nail-less has proven its mettle on everything from trout to juvenile tarpon, and from bass to Atlantic salmon.
The other upshot here? The knot can be tied very quickly, allow one to either rig a fresh system in minutes, or repair a damaged system is equal time. In fact, I haven’t tied a “real” Nail Knot in many years, I just use the twisted Nail-less, typically with a needle variation (unless I am going very quickly and then I lash the system together and go). Both GB and I teach this knot in our respective angling clinics, and we have found that it really reduces the intimidation factor when it comes to building one’s own leader/line system.
If you are looking at seriously big and/or powerful fish, you will likely want an alternative connection, but I’ve been impressed with how well the knot has worked for me over the years in both freshwater and in the light salt world.