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


Do you actually have to use saliva to cinch down a knot?

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 doesn’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.

And 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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Nicholas George
5 months ago

So would it be safe to say that if you are tying braided line for terminal knots to use saliva? Then any mono/fluoro knots do without the lick?

Vincent C Ruggiero
5 months ago

Great test! My theory? Thanks for asking btw. I think that if you went to an Italian restaurant the night before, the garlic breath would serve as a nice adhesive. If you went to greazy burger or brat place, saliva becomes too slippery! Haha actually, using your theory on the FG, dry knot might drill into itself whereas wet knot might not dig in as much?

Ting Xiao
5 months ago

very cool vid. I use a lot of polarmar knots. Could you guys do some vids with polarmar knot?

5 months ago

great job as usual, I no longer wet knots , thank you very much

Sam Craparo
5 months ago

Another urban legend bites the dust. Great job

5 months ago

I think that if you went to an Italian restaurant the night before, the garlic breath would serve as a nice adhesive. If you went to greazy burger or brat place, saliva becomes too slippery! Haha actually, using your theory on the FG, dry knot might drill into itself whereas wet knot might not dig in as much?

Last edited 5 months ago by Anonymous
5 months ago

What’s the mechanism for saliva weakening the line?

5 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

There are enzymes in saliva that start the process of digestion during mastication (chewing). My guess is that these enzymes may weaken the line through breaking it down to some degree.

Glenn Acomb
5 months ago

Luke: Very interesting and surprising test. I would not have expected this and will probably tie my knots without saliva. I do wonder if saliva at 98.6 F temperature would make much of a difference. I assume your glass of water might have been relatively cool. Anyway, keep up these tests as they are very informative. Thank you

Norm Brewer
5 months ago

Would you please run a test using super glue on the knot vs no super glue. Thanks, Norm

Bob Mceneaney
5 months ago

Probably should do this test with the braid to leader knot also.

Mike Shannon
5 months ago

Amazing! This was really a 2 beer video. As the resident knot expert I would like to know your opinion on the reason that reducing the friction when cinching reduces the strength of the knot. Have you tried slow-mo video to analyze the knot failure? Interesting test results. Thanks!

Phillip Butler
5 months ago

Good stuff. No more spit. 👍🏼

DL , Rat of '77
5 months ago

Hey Luke, show off your North Avenue Trade School skills and show us some stress vs. strain curves and calculate the Modulus of Elasticity for us!

Randy Edwards
5 months ago
Reply to  Luke Simonds

Go Gators…Randy Edward’s, Ph.D. U. Miami Marine Science but B.E. and B.S. UFL.

5 months ago

Total nonsense. This “fishing forensics” is out of hand. But reading the comments ,I guess if you cant catch fish you’ll need excuses. If your lines breaking at the knots learn how to tie knots or learn how to adjust a drag or both. No hate just truth.
Great marketing though👍

5 months ago

We’re on the verge of how do you hold your mouth when you cast?

5 months ago

I hate to admit this but my first experience with tying leaders was using sections of cat gut tied together with barrel knots. We kept the cat gut and finished leaders soaked in water. When we switched to monofilament, my father started putting saliva on the knot to keep it from melting/softening as he drew the knot up tight. It became habit with all types of knots. I’ve been doing that for almost 70 years. Not anymore.

5 months ago

Thanks Luke, who would have guessed.

Rob S
5 months ago

While a stab in the dark, this might be the article you remember . . .

I found the variability in the results regardless of whether wet or dry interesting. From watching you diligently tie knots over time and given how many you tie, my guess is your knot strength is better than the occasional fisherman. I think this argues to use the easiest to tie knots unless a more complicated knot is clearly proven to be stronger. Another thought is whether some knots that have many coils such as main line to leader connections might have more friction where a lubricant might be useful.

Your inquisitive mind is a real asset. Keep up the good work!

Randal Jones
5 months ago

Hey Luke thank you again. Wasn’t quite the last 2 minutes of a NCAA Sweet 16 playoff but still held my attetion to the end since I actually use both methods. Really do appreciate it.

Randy Edwards
5 months ago


Although I appreciate you trying to be scientific, but let me tell you as a Ph.D. scientist, your methods are not really totally scientific.

First of all, you need to learn and understand statistics — or have someone who does — to analyze your results. The high variability of ALL of your results amost surely, if properly analyzed statistically, offer no evidence as to which treatment (saliva, versus dry) has a higher breaking strength. In order to really come to a conclusion, you would have to do many more tests of each treatment.

Scientifically, a test should control all the variables. A major variable in breaking strenght is the rate at which the load is applied. It was clearly noticeable that in your tests, sometimes you cranked that apparatus faster than other times. If you want to control that variable, you neeed to do something like use a constant rate motor to turn that crank…and hold the other end the same way…not in your hand that shifts around.

More importantly and practically to fishermen, the idea of using saliva to lubricate the knot was based on knots with many turns that have to slide together and down against the line. Improved cinch knots and regular cinch knots are where the idea was developed.

When a cinch knot is tied (and how it is tied matters a lot…particularly how fast it is tightened), the saliva acts as a lubricant that reduces abrasion between the line and the sliding turns. It is even possible to tie a cinch knot, with the turns far from the hook, and pull it down very fast, and visually see the abrasion on the line against which the turns slid down.

That loop knot with only two turns is very different. The loops do not really slide down the line, and the chance for abrasion during such sliding is very limited.

So, I am afraid that you may have given fishermen some bad information by your little bit of testing. Fishermen should NOT use your video to conclude that they should not lubricate their multi-turn knots, like cinch, improved cinch, and uni, in mono or fluorocarbon.

Maybe you can use these suggestions to do really meaningful tests, but please don’t misinform with tests that seem scientific, but really are not really scientific.

Randy Edwards, Ph.D. (Marine Science), B.E. (Engineering)

Mark Yurchisin
5 months ago

Just an additional thought regarding saliva Luke, didn’t you recently have some information on fish sense Of smell and I believe saliva was detrimental To the bite. Maybe another reason why saliva should be retired when tying knots?

Eric Czarnomski
5 months ago

The video was very interesting. Would like to see your response to the scientist’s points. Keep up the good work.

5 months ago

I normally tie my knots dry. I will wet a multi turn knot like an FG knot. A 1 to 2 # difference in breaking strength doesn’t matter much to me. I try to give enough drag so the knot doesn’t break on a load and retie if there is any abrasion on the knot.

5 months ago

Using saliva (lubricant) allows the knot to be made tighter which would make the knot weaker. Small sampler size can skew the data, Great video.

Russ Gardner
5 months ago

Guess I can stop ‘tasting’ my knots!!! LOL

5 months ago

Have you considered testing no lubricate (no saliva), saliva only, and finally completely immersed in water before tightening? I’m interested in saliva versus water results.

Giomar Jaramillo
5 months ago

Please correct me if I’m wrong because I’m no scientist but my understanding is that because you have to apply the pressure yourself this creates a potentially substantial inconsistent variable. For example, if you apply a more rapid pressure then you would end up with a different result than if you slowly apply pressure. This is why the IGFA line testing videos use a machine that fully conducts the tests with the inputs of an employee on a computer. I am all for these tests but I feel like the way that you’re doing this can be misleading because of the one detail of using your arm to apply pressure. Just a thought, would love to hear what you think

Last edited 5 months ago by Giomar Jaramillo
5 months ago

I agree, there needs to be consistency in speed of how the pressure is applied, the length of the line tested, how it is attached to the base (should be solid) and the amount of soak time. Still interesting.

Malcolm Hayward
5 months ago

Three issues.
Need to tie knots dry as you would at home, then soak them.
A good gob facilitates pulling up the tag end.
Too much tension here causes the line to cut itself.
Amnesia is very poor in this area.
Fluoro carbons generally prefer less turns and are very easy to overtighten.
For 20lb mono I would wrap 5 turns, loop back and then wrap four more turns under the loop.
This is a Grinner and must be lubricated to snug up. Do not overtighten the tag end.
11lb line 6 and 5. 35lb line 4 and 3.
50lb crimp.
To an eye.
0ne turn if metal thicker than the mono.
Two turns mono thicker than the metal.
When crimping, use a Flemish twist.
Malcolm Hayward.

Ralph Nicosia-Rusin
5 months ago

A more decisive issue is that when on the water, putting a line in your mouth can expose you to water borne infections.

Malcolm Hayward
5 months ago

Flob over it.

William Geller
5 months ago

Great video, Luke. The fact that there was even a suspicion of a difference is validation enough for this experiment. Now, next should be the risk of line breakage between the zig-zag fighting of, say, a Jack, as opposed to the steadier pull of a Black Drum! ; )

5 months ago

Good stuff, saliva for the attracting sent trail only.

Jeff Fengler
5 months ago

I fish with six pound mono, tied with a uni knot 90% of the time. I test the line/knot strength with each tie. If I don’t lube the knot/line I experience failure, and can see the line stress, then cuss myself for being in a hurry. LOL

Ron Langford
5 months ago

Very interesting info Luke, thanks. On your slip knot I see you used 2 turns, would the same knot with 3 turns be stronger? I have always used 3 turns with great results . Thanks

Richard Fiorentino
5 months ago

since the saliva scent attracts fish, maybe it would be best to spit on knots AFTER they are tied.

5 months ago

I’ve found fluorocarbon knots to be very inconsistent.. some break easily while I’m surprised at the strength of the same knot on the same line, as my knots are tied constantly the same..

Jose Morales
5 months ago

I use chapstick lip balm because it reduces friction and line curl. I also fish in an urban river that is so harsh that my 6 month old braided line needs to be replaced already; it has faded and breaks at the knot when I get deeply snagged. No way I am putting anything that had been in that river in my mouth.
And the balm doesn’t deter the fish.

5 months ago

Don’t laugh Luke but a trick I picked up years ago from the local salmon fishermen in Alaska and still use whether I’m fishing for salmon in Alaska or fishing for inshore species here in Florida, is to put a drop of “personal” lubricant on the knots before cinching them down (works like magic) and then wiping the knot dry and placing a drop of “knot glue” or superglue on the knot to prevent it from coming undone. Maybe it’s been luck but I’ve never had a knot break in all of my years using this method.

John Higgins
5 months ago

Hi Luke,

What a surprise on the dry/wet knots.

Now do a video on how the break a 70 year habit.

Keep up the good work.

John Higgins

Last edited 5 months ago by Luke Simonds
Martha Jenkins
5 months ago

You guys should think about getting some women’s sunglasses and gear there’s a lot of us out here and men’s sizes are most of the time a little to big. 
Just a thought love all the other New stuff 
M. Jenkins

5 months ago

Do you think that with saliva you are allowing the knot to fully seat as opposed to pulling the knot dry ? Or are you buying yourself time or strength buy pulling the knot until it fully seats when cinched down dry. 

Mark Schreur
5 months ago

Luke, I always enjoy the tests that you do on knot strength. A couple of things I noted during this report. As others have mentioned the high degree of variability between knots both dry and wet would indicate that statistically no conclusion could be drawn. My question is why is there so much variability in the first place. Since modern lines are high quality and very consistent that would suggest that the variation might be related to how they are being tied. I know you have probably tied the loop knot a couple of thousand times so there should be a fairly high degree of consistency but I wonder… One of the things I noticed in the test video and also the one for tying the knot is that you never pull the tag end when tightening the knot. Just the running line and the lure. Is it possible that the knot is not being seated consistently? When I tie this knot, it always cinches down tighter when the tag end is tightened against the running line as well. That of course leads to the next question… could over tightening possibly be a cause for weakening the knot. You might want to test this by using the strain gauge to determine how much force you use when tightening the knot and see if pulling harder actually has an effect on knot strength. I’d love to do it but don’t have the necessary toys..

Last edited 5 months ago by Mark Schreur
Jon Hauge
5 months ago

What about a test to see if there is a correlation of knot strength to the amount of twists and loops for the braid to mono/flouro knots? I’ve been using an Alberto knot with just 3 twists out and back in. I have used 2 twists and my own unscientific testing was to hook a lure to something and pull like I was fighting a fish. I couldn’t get the knot to break. It would be interesting to know if there is a substantial difference.

Nathan Durfee
5 months ago

Saliva will do nothing for low twist knots. I personally use a 5 wrap loop knot. I think you will find that the extra lubrication lowers the line temp at cinch causing less line heat and thinning. Maybe you should try it with the knots with multiple twists? Just a hypothesis.

A. Rollins
5 months ago

What a quandary? Saliva will lure in fish but will make your knots a little weaker?…Sike! Spit away folks, there’s nothing to worry about.

Bert Morales
4 months ago

Great coverage. Now, I can keep the fish taste on the line.


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