It’s been a while since we’ve presented you with a super cheap, embarrassingly simple, yet remarkably helpful gear hack. So, today we right that wrong.
Years ago, your fearless editor attached his favorite pair of fishing pliers to a standard bungee lanyard with a sturdy, yet super simple, split key ring. That’s right, the same thing you probably have holding your car keys together now. At the time, he thought of the split ring as nothing more than a means of attaching his expensive pliers to his wading belt to keep from dropping them in the drink, but over the years he’s learned that that silly little split ring is one of the tools he uses most over the course of the day.. To tighten knots.
Tying good knots is an important part of landing good fish, and an important part of tying good knots is being able to pull on the knot hard enough to seat the knot correctly. After all, a knot that hasn’t fully seated has a tendency to ‘burn’ when yanked on quickly (such as when setting the hook), causing it to break.
Pulling on a knot with a fly in hand is a good way to stick a fly, well, in your hand. Tools made specifically for tightening knots make for one more thing to carry (and thus one more thing to forget). And, other makeshift knot pullers (zipper pulls, wader buckles, plier jaws) run the risk of breaking or slipping either ruining your gear or sticking you with a hook.
A simple sturdy split ring on the other hand won’t break, is already located on the tool that’s going to be clipping your leader anyway, and costs quite literally pennies on the dollar. We’ve used one for tightening down knots for attaching everything from size 8 bead hooks with 4x tippet to size 3/0 tarpon flies with 80 lb. shock tippet, and we suggest giving it a try.