Circle hooks, also known as octopus hooks, are among my favorite options for everything from drop shot rigs on my local lake to live bait in the salt.
The reason is simple: they improve hookset probabilities and enhance lock up. By dint of their shape and clever physics, they hook themselves without your assistance. And they usually drive themselves home in the corner of the fish’s mouth, just where you want them.
I’m not alone in this preference, and pros the world over love a good circle hook.
The Snell will, and it’s an essential knot that every angler should learn.
The Snell Knot - Best Line to Hook Knot
Table of Contents (clickable)
How to Tie the Snell Knot (Uni Version)
- Pass the tag end through the eye of your hook, running parallel to the shank.
- Form a small loop.
- With the tag end, wrap the mainline and shank 5 to 7 times, running away from the eye. With braid and fluorocarbon, 7 to 10 wraps are better.
- Wet the knot and cinch it down carefully.
- Trim the tag end.
The Snell Knot in Braid and Fluorocarbon
While many, maybe even most, knots that were designed around the vice-like grip of mono won’t hold in braid and fluorocarbon, the Snell will.
Braid is woven from individual strands of Dyneema or Spectra, and while these materials are ridiculously strong for diameter, they’re also terribly slick. Unlike mono, which bites on itself really well, braid doesn’t exhibit much friction against itself.
And as a result, all braided lines have a tendency to “pull out” under pressure, as anyone who’s tied a mono-only knot in braid can attest.
Fluorocarbon has a similar issue in that it is a very hard material. It also resists the bite that allows a knot to hold, and it’s often necessary to learn a few fluoro-specific knots if you use it as leader material.
But the good news is that the Snell works well in braid and fluoro. Though designed around mono--it’s a very old knot--the multiple wraps and smart design of the Snell distribute stress and increase friction really well, producing a strong connection.
The Uni version of the Snell is stronger than the standard option and a bit faster to tie, as well, without sacrificing hold in slick materials.
Why Rely on the Snell Knot?
- Proper orientation - The Snell knot keeps a circle hook’s shank straight and parallel to your mainline. That may not sound like much, but it’s essential to the proper function of the hook, and no other knot does it as well.
- Fast - While not as quick as many simple knots like the Uni or Palomar, the Snell makes up for the extra second or two by being perfect for its purpose.
- Easy - The Snell Knot may look complicated, but it’s remarkably easy to learn and tie, even on the water.
When Do Snell Knots Fail?
The Uni Snell is a very secure knot, even in slippery lines. Easy to tie, fast on the water, and ideal for orienting a circle hook to catch in a fish’s jaw, it’s a knot you can really rely on.
But it can fail, and these are the most common reasons:
- Tying the knot in frayed or damaged line - We’ve all been guilty of this, and failing to strip tattered line until we’ve got fresh material to tie a knot is a sure-fire recipe for knot failure. Always inspect your line, and when in doubt, strip.
- Forgetting to wet your knot before cinching - This isn’t an optional step! If you don’t wet your line before tugging it tight, you create friction and heat, which can weaken your line at the knot.
- Not cinching down your knot - Once you’ve wet the knot, gently pull it tight--and be sure it really is!
- Improper technique - While not a hard knot to tie, it’s one you want to practice a few times before you deploy it on the water.