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How to Tie the Dropper Loop

A dropper loop is simply a mixed loop on your main line, leader, or tippet - but it turns out to be amazingly useful. Whether you want to run more than one hook or fly or skip a three-way swivel on your rig, a Dropper Loop is just perfect.

And there’s even more good news: it’s easy to tie, very fast, and 100% secure.

How to Tie a Dropper Loop

how to tie the Dropper Loop

  1. Make a small loop in your line. The size of this loop will directly affect the size of the final loop.
  2. Tie a simple overhand knot, and continue passing the tag end through the loop 5 times.
  3. Make a small opening between the tag and standing lines, and continue with 5 more passes of the tag end.
  4. Hold that small opening open with your teeth and pass the opposite side of the overhand knot through the opening.
  5. Pull everything tight, carefully cinching down this loop.

Why Rely on a Dropper Loop?

Many anglers can’t live without this knot, and the reasons are clear:

  • No more three-way swivels - A Dropper Loop replaces a three-way swivel in rigs like the Paternoster, making it a must-know knot for surfcasting and catfishing.
    Three-way swivels won’t break the bank, but strong ones get expensive in bulk, and the Dropper Loop does away with the need to carry them in your tackle bag.
  • More than one hook or fly - A Dropper Loop provides an attachment point to add more hooks or flies, increasing your chances for a bite.
  • Strong - A well-tied Dropper Loop is very close to a 100% knot. That may not sound important, but a Dropper Loop is actually stronger than the knots you use to attach a three-way swivel.
    If you’ve ever experienced knot failure at your swivel, a Dropper Loop may be the solution.
  • Easy - The instructions look a little crazy on paper, but once you tie this knot, you’ll see just how simple it really is.
  • Fast - Just a little practice will have you tying this knot in seconds.

And when the fish are biting and you’re busy tying, that matters!

Disadvantages of a Dropper Loop

As awesome as this knot is, it has one disadvantage.

In light lines and all braid, it won’t be very stiff. As a result, it won’t always hold your leaders away from your main line, and that can lead to tangles.

In this sense, a three-way swivel is a superior option for all limp lines.

Dropper Loops in Fluorocarbon and Braid

Normally, knot integrity relies on friction, and what matters (other than proper technique) is the line’s coefficient of friction.

But in the case of a Dropper Loop, there’s nothing to pull free. The five wraps on each side of the loop can do nothing but tighten under pressure, and the loop simply can’t collapse under load.

That makes the Dropper Loop essentially a 100% knot, keeping in mind that loops and bends can compromise your line’s full test strength by creating points of stress. That notwithstanding, this knot creates a very, very strong point for a connection.

Fluorocarbon is much denser than nylon monofilament, and it’s notorious for stiffness. In most knots, that can lead to trouble, but in the Dropper Loop, it’s a decided advantage!

The extra stiffness helps to hold the loop away from the main line, limiting tangles. And in this case, a Dropper Loop is superior in fluorocarbon and heavy, stiff mono.

Unfortunately, braid isn’t always a good choice for a Dropper Loop.

The problem isn’t the ultra-slick Dyneema and Spectra fibers from which braided line is woven, but rather its extreme limpness. In most situations, that makes braid easy to tie and a joy to cast, and it’s a breeze to form a Dropper Loop in braid.

But that usually awesome limpness means that the loop won’t hold the leader clear of the mainline, and that can cause trouble with tangling.

In fine nylon tippet, where the goal is to add a connection point for a second fly, a Dropper Loop works really well. Performance is even better in fluoro tippet, so give it a try.

When Do Dropper Loops Fail?

Dropper Loops are well-known for their strength and simplicity - but can they fail?

Only in a few cases. It turns out that a Dropper Loop doesn’t require you to wet it before cinching it down, nor can it pull free under pressure.

But there are two issues that can cause trouble:

  • Tying this knot in frayed or damaged line - As with all knots, a Dropper Loop simply won’t hold if the line fails. Always check your line for signs of damage, and use fresh lengths if you see fuzz or nicks.
  • Limp lines can lead to tangles - Braided line of any test strength and light mono may not form a stiff loop. That can create tangles with your main line. And though the knot won’t “fail” in the conventional sense, tangled leaders count as a problem in every angler’s mind.
About The Author
John Baltes
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.