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Tying Gray's Loop

A fine, simple and secure fly line leader loop

I have never liked braided loops as a method of connecting my leader to fly line. For many years, I needle knotted a short length of heavy monofilament to the end of the fly line, formed a loop on the end of this butt section, and looped my leader to it by way of a loop to loop connection. This was, in my view, finer, simpler and more secure than the kind of standard braided loop supplied ready made for connection to fly lines. Yet it still seemed to me to involve too many knots in the link between fly line and fly, each of which might cause unnecessary disturbance on the water surface. So I thought of tying a monofilament nylon loop directly to the end of the fly line rather than on the end of the monofilament butt section, thus shortening the connection and cutting out one of the knots in the chain.


The tying procedure is similar to that used for the Needle Knot or Nail Knot, but with a doubled length of monofilament nylon. The tying of Gray's Loop is illustrated in the series of photographs shown to the right.


Carefully insert a needle ( I have used a size 7 long darner) into the centre of the end of the fly line and out the side wall of the fly line about half a centimetre from the line tip. It is important that the needle is pushed up the centre of the internal braided core of the fly line.


Heat the needle with a lighter for a few seconds to set the hole made by the needle. This facilitates the threading of the nylon monofilament through the hole.


Take an eighteen inch length (half a metre) of suitable nylon monofilament, double it and thread both ends through the hole made in the fly line and out the side wall. Cutting the ends of the monofilament at a sharp angle makes it easier to thread through the hole in the fly line. See the table below for suggested line/monofilament weights.


Pull the doubled monofilament through until you have a loop of anything up to an inch long. This will give a finished loop of around two inches. If you want a smaller loop of around an inch long, start with as small a loop as possible at this stage.


Form a loop in the doubled monofilament and grip firmly between the thumb and forefinger of the right hand (see the main Fishing Knots page).


Keeping a firm grip on the line and loop with the right hand, use the left hand to bring the two ends of the monofilament through the loop (and round the fly line) at least three times - three is probably enough, any more making the knot more bulky.


Carefully draw the knot together so that the turns of the knot are touching. Do not over-tighten at this stage. The knot must be slid along the line towards the tip before tightening fully.


Slowly slide the knot towards the tip of the fly line, keeping the turns of the knot together. When you have the knot in place, with a finger of the right hand in the loop and the left hand gripping the two ends of monofilament, tighten by pulling steadily until the knot grips the fly line tightly. To test the security of the knot, grip the fly line in the left hand and, again with a finger in the loop, pull steadily in opposite directions. When satisfied, trim the ends very close to the knot. Though not essential, a coat of varnish may be applied.

Gray's Loop, then, is a method of attaching a semi-permanent loop of nylon monofilament to the end of a traditional PVC coated, hollow braided core fly line to facilitate a loop to loop connection with the leader. It is simple to tie, and the resultant loop is very slim, secure and reliable. Such a loop might last a whole season before needing replaced. Joined by a loop-to-loop connection, it is the finest loop-to-loop connection I know, resulting in a minimum of surface disturbance.

Starting with a length of about 18 inches [half a metre] of nylon makes it easier to pull the knot tight. Also, if you want to create a small loop, start with as small a loop as possible [although a loop of anything up to around three inches long works fine]. The strength of the nylon loop will vary with the weight of fly line and breaking strain of leader. As a guide I use the following :

5 3 - 5 lbs 10 lbs
6 4 - 6 lbs 12 lbs
7 6 - 8 lbs 12 lbs
8 8 - 12 lbs 15 lbs
9 10 - 12 lbs 15 lbs
10 12 - 15 lbs 18 lbs

1 kilogram = 2.2 lbs

This knot is not suitable for fly lines with a kevlar or monofilament core. The fly line must have a hollow braided core, as in most traditional PVC fly lines.

A much simplified, yet serviceable, version of Grays Loop might be tied to the end of the fly line by omitting steps one to four above. Simply align the doubled length of monofilament with the end of the fly line and begin at step five, tying the loop on the end of the fly line without first threading it through the core of the fly line. Trim the end of the fly line close to the knot. I have found this to be generally secure and reliable, if not quite as neat as the needle knotted version. This simplified loop can be tied quickly on the riverbank if need be. Again this knot is only suitable for lines with a braided core.

Gray's Loop

Tying Gray's Loop

 Step by Step

Tying Gray's Loop - Step 1
Tying Gray's Loop - Step 2
Tying Gray's Loop - Step 3
Tying Gray's Loop - Step 4
Tying Gray's Loop - Step 5
Tying Gray's Loop - Step 6
Tying Gray's Loop - Step 7
Tying Gray's Loop - Step 8

Loop to Loop connection

Tying Gray's Loop - Step 9

simplified Gray's Loop

Simplified Gray's Loop

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