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Lateral view of a Female Hexagenia limbata (Ephemeridae) (Hex) Mayfly Dun from the Namekagon River in Wisconsin
Hex Mayflies
Hexagenia limbata

The famous nocturnal Hex hatch of the Midwest (and a few other lucky locations) stirs to the surface mythically large brown trout that only touch streamers for the rest of the year.

Lateral view of a Onocosmoecus (Limnephilidae) (Great Late-Summer Sedge) Caddisfly Larva from the Yakima River in Washington
This specimen keys pretty easily to Onocosmoecus, and it closely resembles a specimen from Alaska which caddis expert Dave Ruiter recognized as this genus. As with that specimen, the only species in the genus documented in this area is Onocosmoecus unicolor, but Dave suggested for that specimen that there might be multiple not-yet-distinguished species under the unicolor umbrella and it would be best to stick with the genus-level ID. I'm doing the same for this one.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Jul 30, 2013July 30th, 2013, 5:10 pm EDT
It seems whenever the topics of tippets or knots have been discussed over the years, Louis (Martinlf) has consistently been a strong proponent of the Davy Knot somewhere in the thread. While never challenging his belief in the knots strength, I expressed skepticism because modern materials with sound knots are rarely the reason for lost fish and because I had my favorite knots down and have tied them so many times over the years that changing at that point in my career would be counter-productive. My point was a few ounces in braking strength gained was a poor trade for consistency and ease (with knots you know well), especially in the conditions of wind or low light. Consistency is the key and that while sound knots are rarely the reason for lost fish, knots poorly executed often are. In other words, stick with the knots you know and tie well. That was my position at the time...

Anyway, I promised to experiment with it and report back. Between tying flies and working on the Encyclopedia this Winter I conducted tests stretching a foot or so of various tippet materials between hooks pulled until breakage occurred. Only four knots were tested: Davy knot, Imp. (double) Davy, clinch, and Imp. clinch. Nylon was always soaked for a few minutes before testing. "Champion" knots where never used twice and hooks were rotated out of tests so that neither would skew results. After hundreds of tests, the results proved the following (from weakest to strongest):

Davy Knot
Clinch
Imp. Clinch
Imp. (double) Davy

Looking a little at some of the stats showed the following:

Davy Knot vs. - Clinch 35%, Imp. Clinch 10%, Imp. Davy 0%
Imp. Davy vs. - Davy Knot 100%, Clinch 100%, Imp. Clinch 97%

I was astounded how adding one more turn before drawing up the Davy so greatly improved its performance. A good consistent knot will usually test out in the 70% range. The Imp. Davy only broke twice against the Imp. clinch and never failed against the others! I've never had a knot do even close to that well before... I also learned during the process how to tie the knot easily and quickly (it is so ridiculously easy that tying it in the dark is now no biggie, if you are willing to waste a little material). Another thing noticeable is the knot "signature" is tiny to the point of invisibility in the small sizes (so tiny that it's hard to believe the knot could be that effective). Bottom line, with test results and characteristics like that, even this stubborn angler thought, "Okay, I need to try this knot on the water!"

I almost reported on this earlier but decided to wait until after thorough field testing. Suffice to say that it has been really put through the rigors these last six months - and passed with flying colors!

An "Old Dog" can learn new tricks. Kudos and thanks, Louis!
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Martinlf
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Palmyra PA

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Martinlf on Jul 30, 2013July 30th, 2013, 5:25 pm EDT
Thank you, Kurt. Two things I really like about the Davy are how quickly I can change flies with it, and how little tippet it uses up if you draw it down the right way. I use it about 90% of the time now, giving the extra turn (double davy/improved davy) when the hook wire is too big for the tippet. If the knot doesn't bite and slips or if the tippet just looks to be too small I double it. Most folks I tell about it just roll their eyes, though. ;>
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Jul 30, 2013July 30th, 2013, 5:43 pm EDT
Mine didn't roll, but I admit they got pretty squinty with an eyebrow raised... :):)LOL

Another great attribute is the knot is frictionless drawing up, making it incredibly forgiving. No spit is required. Since the draw up is far less finicky, it is great for beginners (or the experienced angler fighting buck fever with a 20" brown working a few feet away). This is especially valuable with fluoro that can be sticky.

BTW - adding a second turn is so easy and fast that I don't bother confusing my muscle memory with using both. At least for me, single turn Davy tests showed that using fine tippets on hooks any bigger than a #16 dry wire is done at considerable risk, even if it doesn't slip when pulled up.

BTW2 - for those that haven't tried it, if proper tension isn't supplied when drawing up, a tiny loop can form with the tag. This weakens the knot substantially. a simple tug on the tag and a re-tightening solves the problem. No need to start over as with other knots.
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Feathers5
Posts: 287
Feathers5 on Jul 31, 2013July 31st, 2013, 6:37 am EDT
I use the clinch knot and it has never failed me. What is a Davy knot? Louis, post a tutorial.
Sayfu
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Aug 1, 2013August 1st, 2013, 8:46 am EDT
Man did that Davy knot make me feel ignorant! Read it in a Flyfherman Mag a few years back with a picture included. I got out the mono strand, and time after time the knot would slip out! Been takin high blood pressure meds ever since!
Falsifly
Falsifly's profile picture
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 660
Falsifly on Aug 1, 2013August 1st, 2013, 10:01 am EDT
http://flyspoke.blogspot.com/2010/01/davy-knot.html
For those of you who have a copy of the first edition (I don't know if there has been a second) of "Midge Magic"/ Don Holbrook, Ed Koch, go to page 6. It would seem that there my be a question of who first came up with the "Davy Knot" and when.

Falsifly
When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
Kschaefer3
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St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Kschaefer3 on Aug 1, 2013August 1st, 2013, 10:36 am EDT
This is the only set of instructions I could find showing the double davy. Thought it may be useful. I really like the small footprint on this knot. I now have a new one for dries. http://mattsbucket.blogspot.com/2011/10/tying-double-davy-knot.html
Martinlf
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Palmyra PA

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Martinlf on Aug 1, 2013August 1st, 2013, 12:12 pm EDT
The internet has lots of tutorials. Note Davy Wotten's comment on the link Kyle posted. I tie the Double Davy the other way, not the way illustrated in the photos. You have to find the one that best suits the way you want to hold the hook and wrap the line. I had the same problem Joshua did until I learned to match tippet to hook wire, or to use the double Davy. You just have to play around with it enough to learn what works for you. I don't know who first tied the knot, but it has saved me a lot of time on the stream, and Kurt's observation on friction is telling, as friction is what often weakens a knot.

Oh, and here's some other strength testing:

http://mattsbucket.blogspot.com/2011/10/knot-testing.html

Kurt's pretty much convinced me to just use the Double Davy, though I've landed a number of fish 17" and above using the single Davy. I understand the Orvis knot tests strong with smaller diameter tippets, so I'd like to test it against the Davy in 7X someday when I have lots of time. Perhaps after I retire. :)

P.S. Kurt, next test the Ligature Knot against other tippet to leader knots. It's all I use when I have the time to tie it properly. You must wet it with water, not spit, and draw it down carefully, though. After several years it's gotten easier to tie, and it never, never breaks. It's hard to find directions on the internet, but Art Scheck's book Fly-fish Better has good directions.

"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Kschaefer3
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St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Kschaefer3 on Aug 1, 2013August 1st, 2013, 12:43 pm EDT
I am at work and can't watch videos and that was the only set of instructions with pictures for the double davy, that I could find anyway. So do you wrap twice over the top leg (based on the photos), or the bottom leg? Does it even matter which leg you pass over twice?
Martinlf
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Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Aug 1, 2013August 1st, 2013, 12:49 pm EDT
Kyle, from his post on the blog, Davy seems OK with tying it all three ways, so, I think no, it doesn't matter. I typically make one extra turn the same way I made the last one. Kurt, what did you do?
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Lastchance
Portage, PA

Posts: 437
Lastchance on Aug 1, 2013August 1st, 2013, 4:42 pm EDT
I think we're just trying to reinvent the wheel.
Entoman
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Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Aug 1, 2013August 1st, 2013, 7:49 pm EDT
I start it with the tag pointing right as the under leg. Then I bring it over the top leg and back through the loop from the back side. The next step is to reverse directions by wrapping the tag (that is now pointing left) around the bottom leg only. Do this twice. When you are done with this step the forming knot should look like a loop with two counter twists with the loop around the top leg (which is the main line). There are several ways to get to this configuration and I'm not sure it makes a difference how you get there. For reasons I can't explain, if you go over the top leg and then bring it down under the bottom for the two turns on the bottom leg the knot is not as strong and more prone to slippage. This or failing to hang onto the tag until the knot draws tight are the reasons for trouble.
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Entoman
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Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Aug 1, 2013August 1st, 2013, 7:55 pm EDT
Bruce -
I think we're just trying to reinvent the wheel.

I don't know about "reinvent" but I will grant you "improve."
Can you imagine a Formula One race car with Roman chariot wheels?:)
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Feathers5
Posts: 287
Feathers5 on Aug 2, 2013August 2nd, 2013, 5:02 am EDT
Sure, if the Formula One Racing car finished in first place in the most of the races. "The Clinch is a Cinch." Maybe we can get t-shirts made?


Or, "If this shirt was a mirror, you'd be looking at a pile of ugly."

Or, nevermind.

Bruce, Goose, Lastchance, Feathers5.
Martinlf
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Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Aug 2, 2013August 2nd, 2013, 5:48 am EDT
Kurt, that's the way I was taught to tie the Double Davy. As you note, it's very fast, not prone to knot burn, and very strong. Your wheel comparison seems apt.

"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Aug 2, 2013August 2nd, 2013, 12:21 pm EDT
Kyle -

Your link doesn't show the knot the way I tested it or use it, so I can't comment on its strength or other attributes. The second turn is on the bottom leg the way I tie it (as per Louis' instructions in the older thread I couldn't find).

Louis -

Yeah, the knot is is essentially just a twist loop over the main line that has been in use by sailors and the like for years. I'm not even sure who first used it in fly fishing. Anglers out West were using kip tail for divided winqs long before the Royal Wulff, but who gets the credit? The guy who exposes it to the most people through unknowing sports writers, I Guess. That's why there's a patent office.;)

Bruce -

Ha! That's why I had to hypnotize my wife! It has long since worn off...;)
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Sayfu
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Aug 3, 2013August 3rd, 2013, 5:29 am EDT
OK, you now have me back fussin with the Davy! What on the surface appears to me to make for a stronger connection is the fact the tag end winds up entering, and being locked in at the point where it is located, and not coming from the top of the wraps to the bottom to be secured. And it does look as if it can be tied with little tag left over to trim. REMEMBER..every knot that breaks will cinch down further before it breaks....do that firm cinching down in your hand.
Martinlf
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Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Dec 2, 2013December 2nd, 2013, 3:16 pm EST
Revisiting. I PM'd Kurt some time back telling him he'd entirely converted me to the Double Davy. Seems kind of ironic, but I very much appreciate his willingness to give the Davy a try, and to teach me a thing or two about it. Next on the list, the J Knot for leader to tippet. The Ligature Knot is very strong, possibly stronger than most others, but the Flyfisherman tippet tests have me curious about this new (to me) version of the Surgeon's Knot, which may be faster to tie and as strong.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Martinlf
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Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Mar 12, 2015March 12th, 2015, 5:41 pm EDT
For Bob. I haven't practiced the J knot yet, and almost always use a ligature for leader to tippet. See Kurt's comments on the Davy knot above, though.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Flyflinger
Fredericksburg, Virginia

Posts: 30
Flyflinger on Mar 15, 2015March 15th, 2015, 1:53 pm EDT
This thread popped up at an opportune time for me, since I intend to switch to the Davy Knot to fish my wets. I've seen the Double Davy Knot and wondered whether I shouldn't hedge my luck with it. Good point you have about looking at several ways to tie it.

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