Tying a hook onto a fishing line may be the first and most important step in catching a fish. No hook, no fish. Worse, if you tie the wrong kind of knot or do a poor job, it could come undone or snap the fishing line, letting your fish escape. Maybe you’ve been through this before.
To save you the pain of feeling a big fish get away due to a faulty knot, we are going to cover the 5 best knots for tying an ice fishing jig on your line.
The knots in this article are specifically for tying jigs with eyelets. There are many options for tying on bare hooks and jigs with holes that we will not be covering in this article.
If you don’t find a knot that will work for your specific type of hook or lure, you can check on a fishing-knot website such as NetKnots or Animated Knots where there are many more options and great images of the knots in this article.
You should also use those websites to practice at home the knots you plan to use on the lake. You’ll thank yourself later if you can be proficient enough to tie the knot on the first try when it’s cold outside and you take your gloves off to tie your jig onto the line.
1/ The Easiest Knot: The Palomar Knot
This is a terrific knot for any basic ice fishing needs. The palomar knot’s best quality is how easy it is to tie.
It’s easy to remember and get right, even if you have not tied one in a while. It is also fast, which is nice if you are changing your jig often. Since it really only has two steps, it is also easy to do on the ice when your fingers are getting numb and you don’t have as much dexterity.
Not only is it easy to tie, but the palomar is also a very strong knot. It gets its strength from the fact that you double the line over before you tie it to the hook.
The jig head or hook is actually tied into the middle of the first overhand knot, meaning that the lure is already being secured in place before the knot is even tightened all the way.
It’s very unlikely that a palomar knot will slip or break when tied correctly.
This knot also works for all line types, from monofilament or fluorocarbon to braid line. This makes it a good staple not only for ice fishing jigs, but other seasons and types of bait, too.
It does have one drawback: because the palomar knot begins by putting a doubled-over line through the eyelet, it can be difficult to apply to very small ice fishing jigs that have an eyelet too tiny to accommodate a double strand of line.
2/ The Timeless Classic: The Clinch Knot
This is another easy knot to tie, only slightly more difficult than the palomar knot (#1 above).
The clinch knot has been a staple for casual fisherman for years and years. Its main advantage is that it is pretty easy to remember the knot and tie it correctly because it is basically just two steps (wrapping the tag end around the main line and pulling the tag end through the hole you created by wrapping).
If you’re going for ease on a day when your fingers are frozen, or if you are fishing for fish under 12 inches, this knot should be fine for your needs. If you are targeting bigger fish, you should probably learn the double clinch knot (#3 below) because it tends to be a little stronger.
The clinch knot’s main disadvantages have to do with strength: since the line passes through the eye of the jig only once, it can create a weak point.
This will primarily happen if you tighten the clinch knot down without lubricating the line. Since the wrapped line slides into snug coils when tightened, it can burn and weaken the line. Always wet the line with lake water or saliva before tightening (and that goes for all knots).
It’s also a bad choice if you are ice fishing with a braid line, although that isn’t a very common choice for ice fishing. The “clinch” action of this knot just doesn’t seem to work with braid.
3/ The Stronger Choice: The Double Clinch Knot
The double clinch knot is only slightly more difficult to tie than the standard clinch, but it corrects one of the major problems that the clinch knot had: a lack of strength.
The “double” part of this knot comes from the fact that you start by looping the line through the eyelet on the jig a second time. This creates a second loop that you will run the tag end through when you finish tying the knot.
This means a double clinch knot does not have the same weak point of a single line on the eyelet. This means a lot of added strength for catching bigger fish and to help you get out of snags on the bottom of the lake.
It’s still crucial that you lubricate the line as you tighten this knot to avoid burning the line and making a brittle point. You don’t want to lose a big fish from a simple mistake like that!
This knot also seems to work a little better with braid than the single clinch knot, so it’s one of the most versatile knots you can learn for ice fishing with jigs or any other bait.
The one disadvantage is that if the eyelets on your ice fishing jigs are extremely small or if you use a line with a heavy test weight, you may not be able to fit two wraps through the eyelet. In that case, you will need to use a single clinch knot or try the next knot below.
4/ Maximum Visual Action: The Non-Slip Loop Knot
All of the knots we have listed so far are extremely common and well-known, but this one is a little more of a hidden gem.
This knot really shines because it leaves a little room for play between the line and the jig, rather than the more snug fit of other knots. This means more free movement of the jig on the line.
This really contributes to a lively presentation of the bait under the water, which is more likely to attract the fish from far away and then fool them into biting.
It’s definitely trickier to tie than some of the other knots, but only a little bit. With practice it should come easy enough.
It’s important that this knot only loops through the eyelet once, so it can work well for jigs with very small holes. The non-slip aspects of the knot should provide enough strength, as long as you lubricate the knot as you tighten the twisted section to prevent burning the line.
Note that this knot won’t work great for braid because it is too slippery. Stick to mono or similar lines for this knot.
5/ Extra Security: The Uni Knot
This knot is one of the more difficult ones to tie, but when you get it right it has some distinct advantages. First of all, it’s good for all types of line – mono, braid, fluorocarbon, and others. You just need to adjust the number of twists (more for braid).
The big advantage of a uni knot for ice fishing jigs is that you can tighten the knot part way, then snug it up very tightly on the eyelet of the jig, and then tighten the knot. This gives the knot a good grip on the eyelet so that it won’t move at all.
If you’re fishing in very clear water and need a super convincing presentation, or if you are fishing a jig that relies on balancing at a certain angle, a very snug uni knot will allow you to set the jig at a specific angle on the end of the line and it won’t move.
This is in contrast to the non-slip loop knot (#4 above) that allows the jig to freely move. It just depends on the weighting of your particular jig. See how it hangs just below the surface of the water to find out if you should be using one of these two knots for this purpose.
Otherwise, this knot is pretty sturdy and unlikely to slip when tied correctly. Lubrication is extra important on this knot because you will be sliding the near-finished knot a long way down the line to the jig, creating a lot of potential friction.
Overall, the best knot for most ice fishing jigs is probably the palomar knot. It’s so easy to tie and gives you the strength of a double line through the eyelet. It also works with all types of line and you can use it in almost any situation, not just for ice jigging.
If you’re using tiny jigs with small eyelets or if you’re using super heavy line, you might not be able to fit the doubled-over palomar knot through the holes. In this case, try a non-slip loop knot. It only goes through the eyelet once, it’s still very strong, and it adds a little extra motion for visual appeal.
It never hurts to have a selection of fishing knots in your arsenal. As you practice them, you may find specific applications for each knot.
Hopefully, these knots help you land a few more fish on the ice!