Written & Reviewed by Tony Dawson
I saw it in a shiny magazine… OK it was New Zealand Bay Fisher and I was aware that it was featured in the Product News section but it immediately had my attention. It wasn’t in the magpie “Ooohhh shiny” sort of way in as much as I wanted one because of the bling factor - it was because it promised to solve one of life’s enduring challenges, at least for those of us who fish with fine diameter braid and leaders.
Over the past 6 or seven years, most times I have given a presentation at a “fishing evening” of some description, question time or the afterwards part of the event has usually devolved into a knot tying clinic and the most vexing area of concern to light tackle and freshwater anglers is attaching leaders to braid mainline and achieving consistently well tied knots which can be relied on.
The issue became even more critical with the upsurge in interest from anglers heading to Mackenzie Country to take on the monsters of the hydro canals where trout well into the 20lbs plus range and even over 30lbs puts enormous pressure on knots. It is becoming quite routine for those fishing the canals to land these fish on 8, 10, 15 lb braid mainline and leader material of similar test. We are talking about braid with a diameter of as little as 0.013mm attached to nylon or fluorocarbon leader material of around 0.23mm. If you try achieving that on a frosty morning with cold fingers or when the wind is howling or on a lake in a moving boat then you’ll appreciate the challenge.
An additional challenge is that the two materials don’t always get on well, very fine braid has a desire to cut into leader material when a knot between the two is pulled up tight and the expectation is that knots need to be compact, streamlined and tidy; easy travel through the guides on a casting rod is critical. I had, over time come to the point where I had solved the dilemma and come up with a knot solution that ticked all the boxes but it still remains a challenge. That solution; tie a double in the end of the braid mainline using a three turn surgeons knot. Then to the doubled thickness of braid tie another 3, 4 or 5 turn surgeons knot to connect the 2 metre leader. I know it will consistently perform with 8 lb braid, 8 lb leader and 25lb trout.
Then I spotted that Sokkou Knot Tool. I talked to Daiwa and within days I was opening a small package with the assistance of our new kitten. The tool is diminutive, just 100mm or so long and not unlike a ballpoint pen to look at, it has the same sort of clip to retain it in a shirt pocket and it’s yellow so it’s also easy to keep track of.
My first attempt at using the tool was with cold hands in the boat on the lake. I hadn’t done anything with it other than have a quick look at an instructional video to get some idea about how to use it. My first attempt was an ugly knot which didn’t pull up and form a good not at all. But I knew the problem was me, not the tool. Since then I’ve had a sit down session to find out what it will do and to perfect my technique.
The tool is said to tie a “leader knot” and I wrestled to visualise exactly what kind of knot results when it is used. It is actually a surgeons knot but is formed by twisting a loop around the braid and leader laying side by side, which is how a surgeon would form the knot in surgery. When I tie them by hand I tend to pass the braid and line though the loop and there is no twisting… it’s the same knot but it pulls up and forms differently.
When I sat down to find out how best to use the tool and with what combinations of line, I began with exactly the same sorts of materials I use with my freshwater setups. The first a doubled thickness of 8 lb J Braid X4 (0.013mm) to an 8 lb fluorocarbon leader (0.235mm). I discovered quickly that three turns of the tool was sufficient and more just made an ugly knot. A test indicated a break at the knot of 8lbs (and I know this line breaks around 10lbs with a knotless test). Next I tied a knot between the two materials with a single thickness of braid and leader material. The knot pulled up beautifully and had just as much integrity as the previous doubled braid knot. The final test was to use a thicker and stiffer leader material, this time 25lb fluorocarbon with a diameter of 0.50mm. I used three turns of the tool and the result wasn’t a success.
My conclusion was that for fine diameter braid and leader material up to 0.30mm with three or four turns the resulting knots are superb. With heavier and stiffer leaders the twists will not pull out at all well when pulling the knot up tight. It isn’t the solution for connections with heavier lines such as are used in softbaiting or jigging in saltwater. Stick with hand tied connections such as double uni knots, Albright knots, PR and FG knots. For me, fishing fine diameter lines and leaders, this tool is really good and beats the cold finger, windy or bumpy challenge when hand tying connecting knots. Every freshwater fisher who uses braid mainline should have one… and learn to make full use of it.