Stated breaking strains of lines from different manufacturers often don't compare well in practice. Furthermore, different lines show differing degrees of strength reduction at knots. Follow this link for a comparison test of sample 20lb braids.
One of the first things the old dads at the Round Pond told us was never to use swivel clips without an extra locking ability of some sort. Those with just straight wire sides (right) would inevitably pull undone in a gust. Since then I've seen this happen (Murphy's Law again).
Here are some typical "proper" locking swivel clips:
Note the extra bends in the wire that secure the clips when shut.
Although braided line doesn't have the same tendency to twist as twisted line, and regular swivels don't rotate under tension (spinning only when the tension relaxes), I still prefer and recommend using swivels. They can be seen spinning (a lot) when kites are brought in, even on braided lines, especially if the line's being wound on to a spool by hand, where it gets twisted with every turn.
Since swivels are meant for use in water with the water providing lubrication, some kite flyers think swivels running in air will wear out relatively quickly. True, good quality swivels are generally smooth-spinning, but since they spin only when there's no tension, wear is minimal - most of our old swivels are still going strong. Big, chunky clips are not too difficult to open and shut, with or without gloves, and big, strong swivels seem to last forever like Victorian engineering (above left).
For maximum light wind performance, though, we combine high quality small swivels with separate large, manageable clips (click the link to see snaps with both lightweight and chunky swivels in the Line & Winders Catalog).
The simplest method is to use a Round Turn and Two Half Hitches (plus a stopper knot) or a simple Overhand Noose (also with a stopper knot). A "round turn" is just looping the line around the hub twice. I sometimes do the two turns as a Clove Hitch.
Some people wind their reels opposite to the way I do; hence it's a case of trial and error here. Whichever way you prefer to wind in, the trick is to loop the line over the hub of the drum so it draws the noose up tight as you wind in. If the loops around the hub loosen as you wind, they'll just slip; around the other way (the right way), the noose will tighten up and grip the hub of the reel as you start to wind.
I line the hubs with carpet tape first so there's a better grip.
Quick and easy to tie, Blood Knots draw up snug and small, forming a smooth barrel shape that won't catch, snag or otherwise interfere with smooth reeling.Tackle makers in the 19th century kept how these knots were tied a trade secret. They'd make you as many as you wanted, anytime, but you had to pay them.... until an engineer aboard a White Star liner named Jock Purvis ingeniously reconstructed a specimen knot with cut sections in paraffin wax, which he analyzed using a microscope. He then passed his discovery on to an angling author, who told the world in a 1910 publication.
My technique for tying them is to keep the knot a bit loose while pulling both standing parts, alternating with gentle pulls on the two ends. Pulling the main line tightens the ends of the knot, while pulling the two ends apart tightens the middle part - you want them equally tight. (If a helper holds the two ends just taut, you can do one with a single smart tug.)
Watch that the coils form without riding up over each other. If one does, straighten it out while it's still loose, or cut it out and start again.
Finish with a good tug. It's my most-used knot. Whenever and wherever fraying is discovered on a line, that section must be cut out and re-joined immediately using a Blood Knot.
|Trim the excess to about 3/16 of an inch, and melt the ends (without setting them alight) just up to the knot. This goes for all the knots here.|
The knot consists of two Uni Knots/Grinner Knots tied one-at-a-time (see below - click picture to return here). Tie the first with one line around the end of the other line, and snug it up, but not fully tight. Tie the second one around the first line, and tighten it finger tight. Slide the two knots together, and tighten them both further, pulling hard.
A short length of line with a Grinner Knot at at each end could be tied to a main line to form a loop. A Blood Dropper Loop is probably about 80-90% efficient, but it seems to me this pair of Grinner Knots idea wouldn't weaken the line at all (unlike fishing lines, kite lines are almost always under tension, and they usually break at stress concentrations like nicks, frays, or knots, so anything that weakens line is to be avoided).
Loops are easy, and attaching swivels with a Cow Hitch, or Lark's Head Hitch as it's known in the UK, is even easier. I tend to avoid them as a rule, because breaking strengths for loops are rarely, if ever, specified. It's difficult to recommend their use in spite of the fact that a few experienced kite flyers have been using them for years. I have aquired old reels with loops made simply using two Overhand Knots (the simplest knot there is) about two inches apart, leaving a roughly two inch loop, and they had been in use for over 30 years. The Double Overhand Loop is the strongest loop I know of, followed closely by the venerable Perfection Loop. The Figure of Eight Loop may be reliably strong and secure, but no breaking strain has been found. A photo of one on a swivel attached with a Lark's Head Hitch is shown here.
Tying the loop on a short length of heavy line used as a leader cancels out any theoretical weakness in the loop and Cow Hitch combination, but the problem then becomes tying the line to the leader without introducing a weak spot.
This knot forms a loop to which swivels can be quickly attached and removed with a Cow Hitch (Lark's Head Hitch in UK).
Tying is self-evident. (The precise efficiency rating for this one came from a German magazine.) It's just a simple Overhand Knot done twice, but it works up tight. Attach swivels with a Cow Hitch, or Larkshead Hitch (thread the loop through the eye, then feed the swivel through the loop).
There are classic angling knots for which the breaking strain may not be known, but that may have been used successfully all one's life. For example, the Perfection Loop (or Angler's Loop) has been in use since the 1870s and may well be excellent for kites, but until recently its breaking strain was unknown to me. It's rumored to be about 85%.
Nevertheless, it's doubtful it would have stood the test of time if it wasn't a good knot. It's nice looking and it doesn't twist around as it's worked tight.
I've never seen a good picture of one of these, but you can usually tell if a knot looks right or not. This knot is said to be so beautifully simple it can be tied in the dark, but I tie them with care. Of course I'm not sure if mine are tied right, but they look OK to me, and I use them on most of my own swivels. Until now I've always tied them as per the verbal instructions below (no illustration) in one of my knot books.
The following drawings are based on the only pictures of this knot I've seen, which appeared flawed; I've re-drawn them the way I think they are supposed to be done, and test-tied a few for confirmation. They end up looking like the one in the photo at right. It may not be a real Jansik Special, but it's been a reliable knot just the same.
1. Thread about 6 inches (15cm) through the eye of the swivel; bring it around in a circle and pass it through again, forming a loop.
2. Feed the loose (or working) end through the eye again to form two parallel loops.
3. Cross the working end over the standing part (the line opposite the working end).
This will form a third circle.
5. To tighten: hold the swivel in one hand, the standing part with the other, and the loose end with your teeth, and tighten with a steady pull on all parts.
Or, fasten the swivel to something, apply strain and tighten by pulling both ends of the line.
Tip: the key to a neat Jansik Special is to keep the coils in order, making sure none cross over as you tighten. Draw the three main loops up quite small and do the three final wraps just loose enough to allow working the loops tight. Finish off with a good steady tug, while making sure no coils get crossed. Remember Tip 6, above.
Warning: That might prove difficult on waxed lines.
1. Thread through the eye.
2. Take the loose end twice more through the eye to make two parallel loops.
3. Take the loose end round the standing part and through both loops three times.
4. To tighten: hold the hook with pliers, the standing part with the other hand and the loose end with your teeth before tightening with a steady pull on all parts.
At right is a picture of my interpretation of those instructions, showing the back. To be honest, I found these easier to tie, and to learn to tie, by following the text on its own without the pictures.
Another beautifully simple knot that can be tied in the dark.
Go back to 1st paragraph of Jansik Special
|Western Filaments recommend the Triple Palomar Knot, the Double Stevedore variation described below, and the Double Uni Knot for use with their TUF-Line XP®. (No sleeving is required for TUF-Line, which is Spectra® with a state-of-the-art protective coating permanently bonded to it.)|
Properly tied, this knot is as pretty as it is strong. The Eagles Park website (Missouri, USA) says: "The Palomar Knot is (a) very simple knot... regarded by the International Game Fish Association consistently as the strongest knot known. It's great virtue is that it can safely be tied at night with a minimum of practice."
The finished knot looks complicated, but it's easy to tie on most lines. One exception: on waxed line it can be difficult to get the loops to snug up evenly.
Remember Tip 6, above.
|1. Double the end of the line, and thread it through the eye of the swivel.||2. Tie an Overhand Knot with the threaded loop and the standing part as shown.|
|3. Put the snap swivel through the loop.||4. Holding the swivel in one hand, slowly pull both ends of the line to tighten the Overhand Knot, taking care to avoid twists. Don't tighten the Overhand Knot all the way just yet. The loop will probably want to catch at the eye, as shown. Help the loop over the eye, so it can jam against the knot as it tightens.|
|<<< The finished Palomar Knot doesn't look like it's based on a simple Overhand Knot >>>|
The finished Hook Tie is an elegant, symmetrical knot said to be ideal for thin and/or sleeved high-tech lines (Kevlar, etc.). I've used it on very light (15-20lb) line and on sleeved 50lb Kevlar bowstring.
This is a favorite knot for thin lines. It's easy to tie, reliable, and looks good. Sources recommend doubling thin line for these. The extra tuck is regarded as an option, but efficiency drops to as low as 80% without it. (Nevertheless it's not shown tucked on most fishing web sites.)
|Standard Version||Doubled Variation for High-Tech Braids|
The trick to tying this one on any type of line is to snug it up just enough to allow it to slide, and no more, before sliding the knot up to the swivel to tighten. It even works on waxed line.
1. Thread through the eye. Fold back 8 inches of loose end. Refold about 5 inches of this towards the eye to form a second loop. Take the loose end five times around both parts of the first loop but passing always inside the second loop (in the direction away from the eye).
2. Pull on the loose end, tightening the knot, but not completely, so it can slide. Then slide the knot to where it is wanted and tighten further, pulling hard.
Once tight, it literally grips the line and won't slide. In fact "Gripper" wouldn't be a bad name for it.Recommended by a sport fisherman and falconer, who said it's the strongest knot you could use.
|To join two high-tech lines of different thickness tie the thick line around the thin one with a Uni Knot, and tie the thin line around the thick one with a Tucked Half Blood Knot, using a few more turns than were used on the Uni Knot.|
Some books show this knot as a "Fisherman's Bend," sometimes without the second Half Hitch. Whatever it's called, it's a Round Turn and Two Half Hitches (also used for anchors) with the first Half Hitch passed through the Round Turn in step 2.
On my heaviest line there is an Anchor Bend on the end of an even heavier leader and no swivel - just a medium sized carabiner. The other end is tied to the main flying line with a Double Sheet Bend.
This is one of the first fancy knots I learned as a kid (grimly fascinating for boys of a certain age). It's said to be "a very strong noose designed to withstand a heavy shock loading."
Bev's deep-sky reel has one of these on 80lb twisted nylon line dating from the late '70s. That was before we had braided dacron, and before I'd ever heard of the outwardly similar (and stronger) Grinner Knot. Although I don't know its efficiency rating, I don't mind, because our original knot's still good.
Looking far from sinister after being snugged up tight, it's a handsome knot that's easy to tie. The principle is similar to whipping the end of a rope. While on paper it may not be as good as the super-high efficiency knots, it's a lot better than some of the knots I've seen people using.
For attaching swivel clips use at least 5 turns.
Permanent loops on kite line without serious weakening
1. Loop the line
2. Twist the two standing parts together about 6 times
3. Pull a loop down through at the middle
4. Work it up tight like a Blood Knot
This is a handy knot for making permanent or semi-permanent loops for hanging things from a kite line. It could have a ring for attaching clips for falconry, or you could hang, say, an emergency strobe from one. Prusik Knots tend to slip on thin kite lines. For a possible alternative, see the note at the end of the Double Grinner Knot above.
Simpler knots, such as the Manharness Knot, are for thicker ropes, and weaken kite line more than the barrel-shaped knots.
For temporarily hanging objects from kite lines
This is a climbers' knot. Using a pre-tied loop of thin line, it can be used for attaching things to thicker kite lines (on thin lines it can slip). Put a ring or clip on the loop to attach things like falconry lures or lights.
Pass one end of the loop several times around the main line and through the loop itself.
Originally intended for climbing, the Prusik Knot is supposed to slip smoothly when loose and hold firm under a sideways load. To prevent slippage use an additional overhand knot in the loop to keep it from coming loose.
This Prusik Knot was used during a falconry display to attach a small clip to my kite line for holding a falconry lure. The makeshift loop of too-thick, stiff cord tended to loosen after being tied, so I tied an overhand knot in the loop and snugged it up against the coils to act as a stopper. This worked fine.
There is a whole family of Prusik Knot variants. The Penberthy Knot or Caver's Helical Knot has three variations and opinions vary as to whether they should be wound upwards or downwards. They also have to be tied with the right amount of slack and the right number of turns for the job at hand.
Canadian mountaineer Bob Chisnall devised two more variations he calls Release Hitches to overcome the shortcomings of other Prusik-type knots. These knots are beyond the scope of this web page.
For attaching things with knobs, such as camera rigs, to kite linesAlso called Boatman's Knot, Builder's Knot and Peg Knot; in 1884 the knotting authority Burgess wrote of the Clove Hitch: "...made in the bight as if it was a single piece of line, this tie is often used by surgeons in cases of dislocation of the thumb."
Clove Hitches can be done quickly by making two loops side-by-side taken in opposite directions. First form one loop, then make another, flipping it around so that both loops are to the outside in relation to the main line. Then drop them over the knob together.
Some time ago I got this enquiry:
"Anybody know anything about the "Falconer's Knot?" If so, please contact: Dawn Smyth"
This is the tie-with-one-hand knot used by falconers - it is not commonly found in knot books. Some kite-flying falconers use it to attach lure lines directly to kite lines, when tied in reverse so it can be yanked loose by falcons can yank it loose.
Here are the pictures from "Primitive Ways" in case it disappears in cyberspace.
The drawings at left may be a bit hard to see, but the instructions in the download from The British Columbia Falconers Association should help, although the photographs in that are also a bit hard to see.