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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Julius Bagley
2 years ago

I would like to see a series of test done with other lubricants other than saliva. I recently found out in fly fishing a lot of people use dry fly gel floatant to lubricate the knot. And some people use Chapstick. I imagine you could use bait sent also. This is just a suggestion to continue the test on knot strength.

Thanks for all you do at Salt Strong.
Julius Bagley

Richard Fiorentino
2 years ago

To spit or not to spit, that is the question

Gary Burks
2 years ago

Great to see the test results. The consistency of the knot being tied exactly the same and the amount of tension used on each knot being the same are some of the reasons that could account for the variations in knot strength in all examples. I rarely have knot failure and I don’t believe it’s because of my ability to tie the perfect knot but more in the cinching of the knot. I do use saliva on all my knots. I carefully and slowly tighten the knot. I don’t jerk or get to carried away trying to break the knot before I fish it. I believe over tightening can mess with the lines characteristics. Just my thoughts. Thanks Luke for the tests.

Bert Morales
2 years ago

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

A. Rollins
3 years 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.

Nathan Durfee
3 years 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.

Jon Hauge
3 years 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.

Mark Schreur
3 years 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 3 years ago by Mark Schreur
3 years 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. 

Martha Jenkins
3 years 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


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