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How to Tie the Arbor Knot

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The Arbor Knot, sometimes also known as the Canadian Jam, is used by anglers to attach line to the arbor of their reels. Designed to hold fast for emergencies like retrieving a rod and reel that have gotten into the water, the Arbor Knot is not intended as a last-ditch measure should a fish take all your line!

It’s also important to realize that this knot doesn’t provide a lot of pressure on the arbor, and if you’re spooling on braided superline, you’ll need to be sure that you’ve got a braid-ready, no-slip arbor.

How to Tie the Arbor Knot

Arbor-Knot

  1. Pass the tag end around the arbor and tie a simple overhand knot near the end of the tag. Wet the overhand knot and cinch it down tightly. You want a long tag end at this point.
  2. Using the remaining tag end, tie a second overhand knot.
  3. Wet the second overhand knot and cinch it down tightly.
  4. Pull the knotted tag end back to the second overhand knot to cause a jam, and trim the tag end down to about ⅛” from the knot.

Why Rely on the Arbor Knot?

  • Strong - The Arbor knot doesn’t need to be particularly strong - its only job is to hold your line snug against the arbor while you spool.
  • Fast - There’s probably no faster way to secure your line to your reel.
  • Easy - The Arbor Knot is easier than tying your shoes.

What’s Not to Love About the Arbor Knot?

The Arbor knot is an excellent choice for securing your line to your reel, but there are better choices for braided line.

Why?

In nylon monofilament and fluorocarbon, the Arbor will hold, no question, and the tighter you pull, the more you force the jamming action, holding the knot tighter. Simple overhand knots aren’t the best knots out there, though they do work in this application. 

The issue appears when you're using braid, as this knot will probably not provide enough tension against the arbor. As a result, there’s a good chance it’ll slip as you try to spool on your line.

The Arbor Knot in Braid and Fluorocarbon

Monofilament and fluorocarbon both possess what engineers and scientists call a “high coefficient of friction.” In plain English, that means that they bite and grip against themselves well.

Normally, this is important because a knot holds due to the friction it creates against itself. In this case, the issue is a bit different--the real issue isn’t the overhangs coming loose but rather the friction the loop creates against the arbor of your reel, allowing you to spool without slippage.

Braided lines are notoriously slick, even though they feel abrasive to your bare fingers. The Dyneema and Spectra fibers from which these lines are woven have very low coefficients of friction compared to mono and fluoro, necessitating more twists, turns, and bends in knots intended for braid.

But in the case of the Arbor, you’ll be relying on a single loop around the spool, and unless your reel is designed for braid, that’s not likely to offer enough friction to hold it in place.

If you’re spooling superline, you’ll need a reel with an arbor designed for braid.

When Do Arbor Knots Fail?

Unlike most knots, you really only need the Arbor to hold initially. Let’s face it: if you think you’ve still got a chance at a fish that’s stripped off all your line, you’re kidding yourself!

The only real work the Arbor Knot does is allow you to spool line onto your reel.

That said, it can fail, and these are the most common culprits:

  • You’re using braid on a normal arbor - Braided line probably can’t provide enough friction to hold fast when you start spooling. Unless you’ve got a braid-ready arbor, skip the superlines or use a different knot, like the Uni.
  • Not cinching down the jamming overhand at the end of the tag - That knot on the tag end can’t come undone! If it does, your line will slip through the overhand knot against the spool, and the knot will fail. The good news is that you’ll know about that immediately and you can re-tie.
About The Author
John B
If it has fins, John has probably tried to catch it from a kayak. A native of Louisiana, he now lives in Sarajevo, where he's adjusting to life in the mountains. From the rivers of Bosnia to the coast of Croatia, you can find him fishing when he's not camping, hiking, or hunting.
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