Should You Use Saliva When Cinching Down Fishing Knots? [Experiment]


Note: This blog post on using saliva to cinch down fishing knots was originally posted on September 11th, 2020, but we wanted to share this important experiment again!! Be sure to scroll down to check out all of the HELPFUL comments below this article!

Should you use saliva when cinching down fishing knots?

Back in the day, it was necessary to use saliva with mono because the surface of the line was rougher and less resistant to abrasion.

But fishing lines today are much higher quality than back then…

So the big question is do you still need to use saliva when cinching down knots or not?

I saw in one study that it actually may do more harm than good, but other experienced fishermen claim that it’s still a necessity.

Since there’s a lot of debate out there, I decided to do a test to find out the truth.

I did three rounds of testing knot strength with saliva, and three rounds of testing knot strength without it.

I did that for monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braided line.

The results were very surprising, and now I know how I’ll be cinching down all of my knots.

Check out the full experiment and the results in the video below.

Should You Use Saliva To Cinch Down Your Knots? [VIDEO]

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Are you actually damaging a knot when you use saliva to tie it?

Here are the results of the experiment, measured in the amount of tension required to break the knot:

Fluorocarbon Saliva Test

Fluorocarbon used: 20 lb. Berkley Vanish

Knot used: Non-slip loop knot with two twists

Pre-testing treatment: knots were soaked in water to mimic real-life application.

No Saliva Knot:

  • Test #1: 13.05 lbs
  • Test #2: 15.66 lbs
  • Test #3: 14.80 lbs
  • Average: 14.50 lbs

Knot With Saliva:

  • Test #1: 15.11 lbs
  • Test #2: 13.20 lbs
  • Test #3: 11.80 lbs
  • Average: 13.37 lbs

Conclusion: The knot without saliva was 8% stronger on average than the knot with saliva.

Monofilament Saliva Test

Monofilament used: 20 lb. Ande Mono

Knot used: Non-slip loop knot with two twists

Pre-testing treatment: knots were soaked in water to mimic real-life application.

No Saliva Knot:

  • Test #1: 17.08 lbs
  • Test #2: 17.04 lbs
  • Test #3: 16.96 lbs
  • Average: 17.03 lbs

Knot With Saliva:

  • Test #1: 16.48 lbs
  • Test #2: 15.97 lbs
  • Test #3: 18.45 lbs
  • Average: 16.97 lbs

Conclusion: The knots with and without saliva were essentially the same.

Note: notice how much stronger the knots tied with monofilament are than fluorocarbon!

Braided Line Saliva Test

Braided line used: 10 lb. PowerPro

Knot used: Braid uni knot (through the eye twice with 7 turns)

Pre-testing treatment: knots were soaked in water to mimic real-life application.

No Saliva Knot:

  • Test #1: 16.67 lbs
  • Test #2: 19.29 lbs
  • Test #3: 15.54 lbs
  • Average: 17.17 lbs

Knot With Saliva:

  • Test #1: 21.14 lbs
  • Test #2: 16.79 lbs
  • Test #3: 19.62 lbs
  • Average: 19.81 lbs

Conclusion: The knot with saliva was 12% stronger on average than the knot without saliva.

Experiment Discussion

The surface of the line used to be much rougher, so it was necessary to use saliva to ensure the line didn’t burn on itself as you cinch it down.

However, fishing lines are made so well these days that that no longer happens, so you don’t need saliva.

Not only do you not need it, but it could actually do more harm than good, as shown by the results of the fluorocarbon and monofilament experiments.

Of course, this is a small sample size in just three rounds of testing each, so we can’t say definitely whether one is better than the other, but I believe it’s safe to say that saliva is at least not a necessity like it used to be.

Also, another thing to notice is that the range of results was greater for all of the knots with saliva than those without it.

So yes, it’s possible that saliva could make a knot stronger, but it’s also possible that it could make a knot weaker.

That’s likely because saliva may make the coils in the knot tighten down unevenly, which could decrease the knot strength.


best knot for jigs

Although it used to be necessary to use saliva when you cinch down a knot, that’s not the case anymore.

In fact, it might even be worse if you use saliva!

I won’t be using saliva with my knots anymore in hopes of getting a more consistent knot and not risking it be much weaker.

What do you think about these results?

Do you wet your knots down before you tighten them?

Let me know down in the comments.

And if you’ve seen the study about whether or not knots should have saliva on them before you tighten them down, please paste a link to it in the comments below!

Finally, if you know someone who always uses saliva on their knots, please TAG or SHARE this with them!


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Jan Radjeski
2 months ago

Thanks Luke. Very interesting and as always, thanks for giving us the real scoop. Looks like someone could write a novel on this with all the variables.

Jerry Fadness
2 months ago

Really good info.

james rubin
2 months ago

Those were very surprising results, I have always used saliva on my knots so I never would have even thought it could be worse then good.
Thanks for running tests like these, they can be eye opening!

Ronald Peedin
2 months ago


Rob Bordelon
2 months ago

I like tests, numbers, results, explanations! This is why we join!
I notice the break point for every knot is well under the line strength. A table of values for average break point of all your favorite knots tied on all the most popular inshore line weights would be an invaluable table of knowledge. It would also show what size line we SHOULD be using. Another test could show break points pulling on the reel drag.

Brian Higgins
2 months ago

I have lost so many fish due to knots coming undone, I apply a very small amount of super glue gel to all my hook knots if tied off the water. Works for me.

Richard Rogoski
2 months ago
Reply to  Brian Higgins

Which knot or knots are you talking about?

Herbert Carre,Jr
2 months ago

Great video. Really informative. I believe the importance in order is: line, rod then reel. The knot makes all the difference in the setup. Ive always used the more affordable rod and reels in my budget. Just recently I landed a 38″ black drum using a Zebco 404 prespooled with 10# mono to a 30# mono leader. Me and that big ugly danced on the bank for about 20 minutes. I used a simple uniknot but looped the mainline thru the swivel twice, wetted the line and cinched tight.

John Dunn
2 months ago

As always ,good post.Thanks

Jim Farley
2 months ago

Great information!

Joe. Kelly Kelly
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Farley

As always Great information Luke

Rodney Griffin
2 months ago

Actually, the only thing that’s “100% certain” is the Power Pro braid in the 10 lb line class would not be certifiable by IGFA for potential 10 lb line class records.


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