Known by a variety of names, including the 16-20 knot and the Eugene Bend, the Pitzen Knot is popular nearly anywhere you can catch fish. It holds well in anything but braid, and it’s easy and fast to tie whether you’re using heavyweight fluorocarbon leader or light tippet.
A close relative of the awesome San Diego Jam, the Pitzen isn’t nearly as braid-friendly as its kin, though it is a tad smaller, making it an excellent choice for fly anglers.
For conventional anglers, the Pitzen knot is a great choice where a snug knot is needed, especially on large lures with big hooks that cause problems for the excellent Palomar.
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Related: Best Fishing Knots
How to Tie the Pitzen Knot
- Run the tag end of your line through the eye of your hook or lure and pull the tag end away from it, giving yourself several inches of tag to work with.
- Pinch the tag and standing lines between your finger and thumb.
- Form a small loop above both lines and wrap both lines 3 to 4 times, moving back toward your lure or hook.
- Pass the tag end back through the small loop.
- Wet the knot and cinch it down.
Why Rely on the Pitzen Knot?
The Pitzen is extremely popular, and there are good reasons why:
- Strong - Tested to an amazing 95% of your line’s test strength, the Pitzen Knot really holds. And while it’s a poor choice for braided superlines, it’s simply fantastic in mono, fluoro, and tiny tippet.
- Easy - The Pitzen is simple to learn and easy to get right. That matters more than you might think when you have cold, wet hands, the sun is blazing and you’re dripping with sweat, or you’re tired at the end of a long day.
And when you need a snug connection to a big lure, the Pitzen is very hard to beat. Because you don’t need to pass a large loop over any treble hooks with the Pitzen, connecting directly to the eye, it’s an ideal choice for trolling or pitching big crankbaits and jerkbaits.
- Fast - When you need to get back in the action right away, the Pitzen knot is your friend.
What’s Not to Love About the Pitzen Knot?
The Pitzen is an excellent choice for all line types but braid, making it plenty useful across a variety of species and techniques, but it does have a few weaknesses.
Chief among these - and in no way a damning criticism - is that it’s snug to the lure. That can deaden a lure or fly’s action, and there are better options like the Kreh if you need a non-slip loop.
And in comparison to snug knots, it’s slower to tie than the Palomar on a bare hook or jig, too, but even then, you’re measuring the difference in just a few seconds.
The Pitzen Knot in Fluorocarbon and Braid
As you’d expect, the Pitzen holds well in knot-friendly nylon monofilament, including standard tippet.
Because mono offers a high coefficient of friction, it likes to bite against itself, creating plenty of knot-holding friction.
Fluorocarbon isn’t bad on this front either, but it does tend to be stiffer and much harder material than nylon. As a result, it can resist tight bends, and it doesn’t crush against itself very well, reducing the friction it creates to hold a knot.
The Pitzen doesn’t require many tight turns, making it a good choice for large-diameter mono and fluorocarbon, and it holds well in both materials. That’s also true for fluorocarbon tippet material, making this knot quite versatile.
But braided superlines, woven from many individual strands of Spectra or Dyneema fiber, is very, very slick. Its low coefficient of friction means that it doesn’t bite against itself with much force, and it tends to slide, pulling many knots free.
That’s unfortunately true for the Pitzen, and if you’re looking for a similar knot that will hold in braid, consider the closely related San Diego Jam.
When Do Pitzen Knots Fail?
The Pitzen Knot is exceptionally strong and easy to tie, but it can fail.
The most common causes include:
- Tying the Pitzen in braid - As good as this knot is in mono and fluoro, it simply won’t hold in braided superline. Just don’t do it - it will inevitably pull free when enough stress is applied to your hook or lure.
- Failing to wet your knot or cinch it down tightly - Wetting your knot before cinching it is essential as it allows the knot to tighten down correctly. And while you can create a slip knot with the Pitzen, just don’t! Tighten it all the way down, creating a snug connection. If you need a loop knot, use one!
- Tying this knot in damaged or frayed line - Always check your line for signs of damage, and cut it when you find fuzz or nicks that indicate potential points of failure. Damaged line won’t hold a knot, and you’re crippling your connection unless you’re sure your line is sound.