In for a Penny.

In for a Penny

I like to imagine that I am open to new ideas, suggestions, hypotheses and such, although I must admit at the same time that I am not overly keen to listen to foolish notions without logical backup.

So it happens that some months back I hosted Peter Hayes, from Tasmania. Peter was in South Africa conducting clinics, mostly focused on fly casting. But then Peter is a man of unrivalled enthusiasm when it comes to fly fishing and he will pretty much discuss anything remotely related to the sport. Getting Peter to offer up some gem related to anything piscatorial is about as tough as getting an alcoholic to have “one for the road”.

He is as said, enthusiastic but equally thoughtful and he isn’t overly likely to put forward an idea that he hasn’t, in his own head, considered carefully.  Peter has more tricks up his sleeve than a bone fide member of the magic circle and when he is prepared to take a bet that “his knot” is better than “your knot” you are best off to keep your money in your pocket and listen carefully.

That then was how I was  introduced to something Peter refers to as “The Penny Knot” after the person that showed it to him. I suspect that the knot might well appear in other places under various pseudonyms but that doesn’t make it any less practical. According to Peter the knot for tying a fly (or hook if there are some lowly bait anglers reading this) to the nylon, maintains 100% of the strength of the monofilament. That is some boast, I would have told you an impossible one to be honest.

So we had “knot fights” the battle of one connection over the other, Peter didn’t lose, and so I had to revise my opinion. I have used a “Duncan Loop Knot” for years to affix my fly to the tippet, I use a lot of very fine nylon and have become quite fussy about knots in general. It took some persuasion to change and not an inconsiderable amount of retraining. I have probably tied well over a million “Duncan Loop Knots” in my life so was more than proficient at it. Now I had to practise, create new muscle memory so that I might take full advantage of a different attachment.

All I can tell you is that it was worth it, this simple and extremely small knot works well even in fine nylon and since converting I don’t think that I have broken off a fly in a fish, not once. Actually I haven’t broken off many in the trees either, the herbage seems to give way before the knot does much of the time.

Here is the knot as shown to me by Peter, you best learn it and use it, after some four decades of fishing and tying knots I haven’t ever come across one as reliable as this, actually not even close.

Not only is it an exceptionally good, simple and effective knot but equally it has proven that you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks.. 🙂


There are lots of other useful tricks in a variety of books by the author of this blog available from Smashwords and Inkwazi Flyfishing.


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6 Responses to “In for a Penny.”

  1. Col' Says:

    That is a Pitzen Knot, invented by Edward Pitzenbaur (sp) decades ago. Appropriated by Lee Wulff as the 16/20 knot in the 60’s

  2. paracaddis Says:

    Thank’s Col, I have seen a variety of what are termed “Pitzen Knots” but they are not all the same. One version is the same as this, many of the video and animated clips on-line are quite diffferent. Therefore I have chosen to go with the “Penny” tag simply because that was how it was introduced to me. My research suggests that this is not what most people refer to as a Pitzen Knot, but nomenclatures get muddled and the easiest thing was to stick to what I was shown and the name given. Then again “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” and I suppose “A knot by any other name would work as well”.. Thanks for your input.

  3. paracaddis Says:

    Further to Col’s valued comment I have further researched on line. So far I have found at least three variations of what people call the Pitzen knot, or 16-20 knot plus a few other “Pitzen Knots” that are entirely different. Confusion reigns and I am going to stick with “Penny Knot”.

  4. Says:

    Dear Paracaddis

    It sounds like you do a bit of guiding; I would love organise a day with you some time next month if you have any availability.

    For your reference I am a keen and half-competent flyfisherman who arrived in the Cape from the UK two years ago; I joined the CPS immediately and had a couple of beautiful days on the Elandspad but have failed to become a regular.

    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Best wishes, Harry Waldemar Brown

    Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!

  5. Tom Baublis Says:

    also called a Eugene

    • paracaddis Says:

      Thanks for your comment Tom, that name I haven’t come across previously although I do know that knots do tend to appear with different names in different places. I have seen recently this knot being referred to as a ‘Z knot’ for example. Not that it matters, it is a very good, if not the best knot I have found in fine nylon for attaching flies and that is enough. A rose by any other name and all of that.

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