RECREATIONAL fishing has countless numbers of identities or high profile personalities worldwide; after all, it’s supposedly the world’s most popular pastime. However, in my opinion there is only one truly iconic figure or living legend – the famed US fly fishing pioneer Bernard “Lefty” Kreh.
Having had the privilege of spending some time with Lefty over the years, I can honestly say that he is the real deal – a true innovator who has dedicated his life to helping his fellow anglers.
I think it would be fair to say that no other individual has contributed more to the technical development or promotion of fly fishing. Prior to Lefty’s impact, fly fishing was largely a pastime enjoyed by the wealthy or ruling elite. Today it’s enjoyed by millions from all socio-economic levels of society worldwide. In a time when tackle company public relations machines can turn a previously unknown angler into an instant celebrity figure for winning a fishing competition by fluking a single fish, it’s refreshing to know that there are still wonderful individuals such as Lefty who have genuinely earned their reputation through a lifetime of achievement and dedication.
Amongst the many innovations developed by Lefty, one of the finest has been his loop knot. In my view, it’s far and way the best connection for attaching lures or flies to leader or mainline. “Hard” knots can dampen or kill off the swimming action of many lures or flies, especially smaller types being fished on relatively heavy leaders, but a loop maximises the in-built action of a good fly. As a general rule, the majority of lures or flies that rely on an in-built swimming action to draw strikes from fish will benefit from the use of a loop knot. There are a few possible exceptions to that rule with lures such as jigs or surface bloopers where the lure’s action is imparted by working the rod tip and any slack in the system – such as that provided by an overly large loop knot – can result in a slight reduction in the crispness of the action delivered to the lure by the rod work. However in practice the effect is really negligible and one of the great advantages of Lefty’s Loop Knot is that you can vary the size of the loop to suit your requirements.
In the case of the previously mentioned jigs or surface bloopers, I tie the knot using the smallest possible loop which provides the best of both worlds: it virtually takes all the slack out of the system so my rod work will be imparted onto the lure efficiently, but the lure is still free swimming on a loop so that I’m maximising the benefits of any inherent lure action.
I’ve used Lefty’s Loop Knot for everything from fishing six pound fluorocarbon leaders when soft plastic fishing for bream through to 100 pound hard mono shock tippets when fly fishing for giant Atlantic tarpon. Lefty claims it has the highest break strength of any loop knot and this is backed up by the testing of noted US rigging authority the late Bill Nash who rated its break strength at between 95 and 100 per cent. For most of my rigging work I use three turns in the knot, however Bill Nash recommended four to five turns to achieve 100 per cent break strength. Lefty also says in his seminal book Fly Fishing in Salt Water that the knot can also be tied in braided wire, an option for anglers lure or fly fishing for toothy critters such as tailor, mackerel or wahoo .
One of the things I love about Lefty’s Loop Knot is its simplicity. It’s one of those knots I feel like I could do in my sleep. The only time I really find the need to take extra care with it is when I want to create as small a loop as possible when using jigs or surface poppers.
As per my usual routine I lubricate the knot with saliva before pulling it up fully. I find that like most knots Lefty’s brilliant creation always turns out best when you concentrate on fully forming the knot prior to pulling it up hard.
A word of warning about Lefty’s Loop Knot. There are numerous drawings in magazines and on the internet that incorrectly demonstrate how this knot is tied. The correct step by step instructions show that the tag end always goes through the overhand knot the same way, this is how it is illustrated in Geoff Wilson’s excellent Complete Book of Fishing Knots & Rigs and Lefty’s own must read book Fly Fishing in Salt Water.
Lefty’s Loop Knot is, in my opinion, a must have knot in every lure or fly fisher’s rigging arsenal. As I have stated previously, it has relegated previously popular connections such as the Homer Rhodes loop knot to the pages of history books. I know I couldn’t do without it these days. Thanks Lefty, your superb creation has kept me connected to a lot of memorable catches over the years.