How To AVOID Wind Knots and Tangles With Braided Line

Published by Tony Acevedo under
Last updated on: December 7, 2017

wind knot fishing reel

Ever had a wind knot in your braided fishing line?

Well, this post should help you avoid them in the future.

But first, let’s talk about why (and when) to use braided line in the first place.

Braided fishing line is an awesome alternative to using monofilament line for those of us who use spinning reels and frequently use artificial lures.

And here are a few reasons why……

  1. Thinner diameter allows for longer casts
  2. Zero stretch in the line which allows for better sensitivity and hook sets
  3. Lasts much longer on your reel than monofilament
  4. Zero line memory, so your line stays limp and doesn’t “coil up” like mono

So as you can see there are some nice advantages to using braided line, but just like everything else, there are always disadvantages.

One really big disadvantage, in particular, that will make you toss your rod and reel in the trash if you don’t know how to overcome the are…

Wind Knots!

(aka line tangles, knots, headaches, etc.)

fishing wind knots

Although wind knots can happen when using mono line too, they are much more burdensome with braid.

There are some manufacturers of braid fishing line that will market their product as being the best for wind knot prevention, but 99% of the time the issue with knots is caused by the operator of the rod and reel.

Before I give you just about every scenario that will cause these knots and tangles in your line, I want to help you better understand why these tangles happen in the first place.

First, we take a look at the name most of these accidental knots are given – “Wind Knots”

They are called this because they happen most often when you cast into the wind.

This is due to the speed at which your line is moving from your spool to the end of your line, and I like to break this down into 2 separate “areas” where the line is.

  1. Spool to Guide (guide closest to the reel)
  2. Guide to Lure/Bait

The area from your spool to the 1st guide closest to the reel is going to be where your line is moving the fastest.

how to avoid wind knots

When you cast into the wind, your line will start to slow down drastically.

The line closest to the reel (right between the guide and the spool) is moving much faster than the line that has gone through the guides and left the rod.

This causes the coils of line that are leaving the spool to catch up to the line in front of it, causing the line to tangle over itself, and this typically happens in the area between the spool and the guide closest to the reel (where the line is moving faster and the “coils” are coming off of the spool).

So if I could re-name these knots, I would call them “Line Speed Knots” because they are mainly caused by inconsistencies in the line speed from the reel to your lure or bait.

So keep this thought in mind as you read through the following solutions to help you minimize these line tangles – If something causes a sudden increase or decrease in the speed of my line, it will overlap itself and tangle up.

Wind Knot Solution #1 – Avoid Casting Into the Wind

wind knot

As stated above, the most common cause of line tangles associated with braided line is casting into the wind (hence the name wind knots).

Take the time to position yourself to have the wind to your back whenever you can.

If you are unable to cast with the wind, try casting low to the surface of the water.

Related Post: Flats Fishing: Managing The Wind (see it here now)

Wind Knot Solution #2 – Avoid Casting Your Leader Knot Through the Guides

how to avoid wind knots

Casting the knot that connects your mainline to your leader through the guides on your rod is an overlooked cause of line tangles.

As that knot makes contact with the guides, the leader and braid behind it will suddenly start to slow down and the braided line behind it will catch up to it and overlap and tangle itself up.

To avoid this, make it a point to keep that knot past the rod tip before you make a cast.

Using an FG Knot will help minimize this problem since it is a very thin knot and passes through the guides more easily compared to a double uni knot.

You can see how to tie the FG Knot here – Quickest Way To Tie The FG Knot

Wind Knot Solution #3 – Avoid Casting Too Hard

wind knots fishing

Often we think that the harder we swing the rod, the further our lure will go, correct?

Incorrect.

Casting distance is achieved by technique, not brute force.

This causes your line to leave your spool much quicker but does not transfer that energy much past the rod tip, causing that inconsistency in line speed and line overlap and tangles.

If you are looking to up your game with casting, take a look at our Casting Course – See It Here

Wind Knot Solution #4 – Avoid Flimsy Rods

how to avoid wind knots

Your fishing rod can be an important player when it comes to avoiding and minimizing knots and tangles with braided fishing line.

From experience, I have had the most issues when using rods that have a flimsy rod tip.

This is the Action of the rod, not the Power.

A rod with a Fast or Extra Fast Action is what I like to use when casting braided line due to the rod tip being fairly stiff.

A lighter action means the rod tip is much more softer and flimsy, but there is no standard with rod manufacturers, so you have to judge based on your own testing of the rod.

With these rods, after you cast you will notice the rod tip continue to bounce up and down as your line is leaving the rod.

Just about every rod does this, but some are much more noticeable than others.

As the rod tip bounces, this also causes the line to bounce.

Going back to line speed, line traveling in a straight line (line in the guides) will be traveling faster than line that is bouncing and forming a wave shape past the rod tip.

Once again, you have yourself a situation with line catching up to itself, overlapping, and tangling up.

Wind Knot Solution #5 – Keep Tension on Your Line When Spooling or Retrieving

avoid wind knots

Slack fishing line is a big culprit when it comes to line tangles.

As you reel in slack line, this creates loose coils on your spool.

When you cast, these loose coils will come off the spool quickly compared to the line around it, causing the coils to overlap on themselves as they leave the reel and tangle up.

When spooling your line onto a reel, keep tension on the line with your fingers using a small towel or sock on your hand just above the reel.

You can even put some band-aids on your fingers instead of using a cloth to keep from burning or cutting your fingers up and keep tension on the line.

Keep your line tight as you retrieve your lure as well.

If there is too much slack line out, use your fingers to keep tension as you reel until the slack is gone and then begin your retrieve.

You can also pull your rod tip away to take the slack out, and then reel up the slack while you lower the rod tip which keeps tension on the line.

Wind Knot Solution #6 – Avoid Putting Too Much Line on Your Spool

spinning reel

Another big mistake anglers make is filling up the spool of their reel to the edge with braided line.

This causes coils to literally fall off the spool when you cast.

When this happens, the coils overlap themselves and cause the knots and tangles.

Be sure to spool your line just shy of the edge of the spool, again being sure to keep tension as you spool the line on.

A simple trick to see if I have put too much line on is too open the bail, grab the line past the rod tip and give it a yank.

If line starts to fall off the spool after the pull, there is too much line on the spool.

Wind Knot Solution #7 – Take a Look at How Your Line Lays on Your Spool

how to replace wind knots

This goes hand in hand with spooling your reel.

Once your line is spooled up, take a look at how it is laying on the spool.

Is there more line at the top as opposed to the bottom?

Or is the line nice and even from top to bottom?

You want your line to be laying evenly on the spool.

If there is more line at the top of the spool or bottom of it, this will cause your line to leave the spool unevenly (large coils mixed with smaller coils) which causes line overlap and tangles.

This problem is due to the washers on the shaft that your spool sits on.

Check out this video to see how to correct this issue – How to Correct Uneven Line Lay

Wind Knot Solution #8 – Close the Bail by Hand

wind knots while fishing

Notice I close the bail by hand and keep tension on the line with my index finger

When switching over to braided fishing line from using monofilament, it is important to break the habit of closing the bail by turning the handle of your reel.

You want to close the bail slowly by hand because this helps keep tension on the line as you close it.

When that bail snaps closed by turning the handle on the reel, this causes the line to bounce and form a loose coil on the spool.

Remember, loose coils are bad!

Wind Knot Solution #9 – Stop Your Cast By Hand

how to avoid wind knots

In addition to closing the bail of your reel by hand, it is also recommended to stop your line before the lure or bait hits the water.

I do this by simply putting my thumb of my free hand (the hand I use to turn the handle) on the top edge of the spool and slowly stop the line before my lure hits the water.

I then close the bail by hand and make sure the line is snug before starting my retrieve.

If you keep the bail open as your lure hits the water, your line is coming to a complete stop but line will continue to come off the spool.

This will usually cause loose coils to go onto the spool from slack in the line, and being in a hurry to reel up the slack after a cast.

Wind Knot Solution #10 – Avoid Rainbow Casting

how to avoid wind knots while casting

A “rainbow cast” is where you lure or bait is cast high up in the air and your line forms a rainbow shape or curve.

This also happens when you cast into the wind, so you can pretty much see where this is going…..

Inconsistencies in line speed!

Not only does this decrease your casting distance, but it will also cause tangles in your line.

Avoid the rainbow cast!

Wind Knot Solution #11 – Avoid Using Heavy Leader with Light Lures

avoiding wind knots and tangles with fishing line

And yet again we have ourselves another line speed problem.

If you are using 10lb or 15lb braided line with 50 or 60lb leader and a 1/16oz hook or lure, you are going to have yourself some issues.

The biggest issue is due to the heavy leader.

This leader, with its larger diameter, has more resistance in the air.

This will cause your line speed to slow quickly once you cast, decreasing casting distance and also creating the dreaded tangles and knots in your braided line.

If you are using a heavier leader with a heavier lure, you may find this to be less of a problem due to the weight of the lure helping to keep your line moving.

Wind Knot Solution #12 – Proper Lure Rigging to Avoid Line Twist

fishing line knots

When using soft plastics, especially soft plastic jerk baits such as Gulp or Zman Jerk Shads, be sure they are rigged nice and straight.

This is done by making sure the hook is centered directly down the middle of the lure.

This keeps the lure from spinning and causing your line to twist up because these line twists can also cause knots and tangles in your braided line when you go to cast.

I recommend the Owner Weighted Twistlock Hooks because they have a centering pin on the spring, and the weight also helps keep the lure from spinning.

Here is a link to a video that shows how to properly rig Gulp Jerk Shads – See It Here

Also, here is a great video tip to remove line twist – Simple Trick to Remove Line Twist

Wind Knot Solution #13 – Point Your Rod Straight Out After Your Cast

avoid wind knots and tangles with fishing line

Line friction on the guides of your rod is also very important to consider to help reduce line tangles.

Again, this has to do with changes in line speed.

Less friction on your line as it leaves the spool will result in a slower, or gradual, decrease in line speed.

As mentioned before, if your line slows down quickly on a cast, those coils coming off the spool will catch up to each other and tangle up.

By simply pointing your rod tip straight out after you cast and before your lure hits the water, you are helping to reduce the friction of the line on the guides of the rod.

Wind Knot Solution #14 – Apply a Line Lubricant to Your Line

real magic fishing line

As a final tip to help with minimizing knots and tangles with your braided line, I like to apply a lubricant to my line after I put fresh line on a spool, and before every trip.

And no, I do not mean squeezing a bottle of reel oil onto your line

Real Magic is a great product I like to use as it is safe for braid and applies a thin lubricant to the line.

By doing this, it reduces friction as the line leaves the spool and passes through the guides, and also makes it a bit easier to get knots out if and when they do happen.

Conclusion

fishing wind knots

As you can see there are many variables that can cause your braided line to knot up when you cast.

It really comes down to one principle – Inconsistent and abrupt changes in line speed during your cast.

Many factors can cause this (as shown above) and be solved, but there is no 100% fix.

You can definitely minimize the risk of getting these knots by practicing the tips that are given.

It may seem like a lot, but over time it will become second nature if you practice these tips on a regular basis.

Do you have any extra tips to help prevent braided line knots and tangles?

Let us know in the comments!

Fish On!

Related Posts:

  • How to Spool Braided Line on a Spinning Reel – See It Here
  • How to Save Time and Money Spooling Braid onto a Spinning Reel – See It Here

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31 Comments on "How To AVOID Wind Knots and Tangles With Braided Line"

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Dave Frymier
Member

One other thing – if you see a bit of line that has “cut the corner” across the top of the spool – don’t try to make a cast, don’t do anything until you get that out. It’s the surest way to lead to a tangle. The best thing to do is if you are moving, just let your lure drop in the water and slowly let line out until you get to the offending part. Otherwise, just strip the line off by hand – but be careful with this, sometimes that can lead to it’s own tangle.

Joseph Schmidt
Member

…(hit enter too soon!) SO, GREAT JOB!!!!
I’d also like to add that if your drag is too loose and/or you continue to crank your handle while your fish is pulling drag, you will also add twists to your line.

Joseph Schmidt
Member

This was the most extensive coverage diagnosing an “issue” related to fishing that I have ever seen.

Victor Lampasona
Member

Ever heard of spraying the braided line on the spool with W D 40? A guide told me about this a few years ago and it seems to work pretty good.

Vince Anderson
Member

Wow! Great article! I feel a little dumb now. I have been battling wind knots for a while now and just hadn’t taken the time to try and figure out the cause (lazy). All points given are common sense when you understand the physics of the problem. Thanks so much!

RICHARD FIORENTINO
Member

Luke – Do you apply the Reel Magic to the wet rag when spooling the new line or just spray on reel afterwards? Also, have you any experience with KVD Line and Lure? I understand it might be superior to Reel Magic.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Tony, I am a new Insider member, so please excuse me if I oversimplify things in my response to your excellent article on prevention of wind knots. I have my own flats boat & have fished Pine Is. Sound for almost 20 yrs. We often have guests at our home, so I often end up taking
folks out on the water using my equipment. I have seen ( & untangled) many wind knots due to one or more of the issues you mentioned.
Even though I try to position my boat so both ( or all 3) anglers are casting downwind, someone invariably tries to see how far he can “wing
it” against the wind. If I see my guest’s reel spool with a small loop of braid on it, I immediately trade outfits with him & open the bail peeling
line off manually until the loop is out. I try to be diplomatic when advising folks about the important preventive measures you covered. After
all, it’s my equipment that’s being fouled up & braided line isn’t cheap!

Thanks again for a very well written article, Shelly Friedman, Bokeelia, FL

KyRangerDog
Guest
KyRangerDog

Great info Tony, I knew a few and learned a few of your tips, will give them a try, nothing worse than having to lay down your favorite rod/reel to work on it when you get home. As braid is expensive and a little more contrary when it does knot up, these tips should help to have fewer problems! Band Aid idea can’t hurt either, Thanks again.

Robert Glassen
Member

This is great information. The best I’ve seen. Thanks for doing this one.
When I do get one I put chap stick on it and pull it out. Works most of the time.

Austin Quina
Member

What does the chapstick do?

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

It lubricates the knot so that it can slip out. After you put the chap stick on pull on the knot.
I also tried Pro Cure which is slippery stuff but it doesn’t work for that.

Jeff Rassier
Member

Various retrieval methods can lead to inconsistency in the line tightness on your spool.: slack-line retrieval like walking the dog and twitch and pause retrieval can eventually lead to wind knots. I’ve found it lessens the occurrence of knots to simply make a long cast with steady retrieval every fourth or fifth cast. I’ve also gotten in the habit of doing this with the last cast I make with each rig, whether it’s the end of the day or I’m switching rods; thus, the next time I pick up that rod, the line is wound with consistent tension on the reel.

Gary Rankel
Member

Hey Tony. This is, by far, the most detailed and best wind knot avoidance article I’ve read, and I’ve read lots of them. I also apply Reel Magic after each trip – it seems to help. With respect to your points 8 and 9, I prefer closing the bail manually just before the lure hits the water while bringing the rod back a bit, and then giving a brief tug on the line coming from the reel to ensure it’s snug. I routinely cast into the wind, and don’t get more than 1 or 2 wind knots a year. You didn’t mention brands of braided line, and I’m not sure what differences might exist in them, but I use Sufix 832 with no problem.

Maybe Luke can add a test of the different brands to his agenda, but I’m not sure how that would work!

Hugh Martin
Guest
Hugh Martin

I have also noticed a big difference between power pro & suffix. Definitely far less wind knots with suffix .

Jacinda Rose
Ambassador

Great advice i surely needed!! Thanks! I get these knots all the time, and now i know why…. More importantly, i know how to avoid them!! 😁

Thomas Moran
Member

Well thought out piece Tony, very helpful.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Very informative and helpful! Keep up the good work