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Knot your average angler

Develop your angling knot-ledge and test to see how much weight your knots can hold.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Rope
  • Access to water
  • Monofilament fishing line
  • Braided fishing line
  • Corked hooks
  • Hula hoops
  • Water bottles with hoops or caribiners
  • Weighing scales
  • Shoelaces (optional)
  • Ring pulls from drinks cans (optional)

Before you begin

  • This activity is best scheduled a few weeks before everyone goes on a fishing trip. For more information and guidance to manage this trip, run Fishing trip.
  • Generally, fishing knots are used to tie a fishing hook, lure or tackle. Different styles of fishing will benefit from different knots. Leaders and helpers should be sure to know which ones apply to the group’s chosen style. Local tackle shops and angling clubs are generally happy to provide guidance if you’re unsure. Alternatively, if you’re using an activity provider for your upcoming trip, try giving them a call and explain to them what you need help preparing for.
  • Anyone leading the upcoming fishing trip should familiarise themselves with the information in the dropdown boxes below, so that they can help everyone with the knots they’ll be learning in this activity.
  • Fishing knots in particular are quite tight and fiddly, so leaders may want to seek extra help for this session, particularly if anyone knows any family or friends who are keen anglers.
  • Encourage everyone to make a note of the average weight of the fish that they’ll be targeting on the upcoming fishing trip. Bad Angling features species guides for freshwater (coarse and game) and saltwater (sea) fishing.
  • Remind those working towards their Scouts Angler Activity Badge that they must learn and use at least three different knots to meet the badge requirement.


Run the activity

  1. Set up a display screen to show video tutorials of three of the knots described in the dropdown box above. If there’s no internet or shared screens available, then print off some pictures or have more helpers on hand to work through the knots with small groups.
  2. Split into small groups of no more than five. Each group should pick one knot to practise together from the following list:
  1. Everyone should practise tying the knot to a hula hoop, using the video tutorials to help. Leaders and helpers should move between the groups to lend a hand where needed. Individuals may need several goes to get it right.
  1. When everyone in a group is ready, move on to the fishing line and hooks. If anybody needs to scale down, but still isn’t ready for the fine fishing line, then consider practising knots with shoelaces and ring pulls.
  2. When everyone’s comfortable with the first knot, move onto the next one and repeat the process.
  3. Fill water bottles with different amounts of water, so that they all have different weights. Attach a hook or carabina to each one, if the bottle doesn’t already have a handle. Set the scale to ‘0’ and then place the bottle onto scales, to take into account the weight of the bottle. Add water slowly, keeping an eye on the scales to make sure you get an accurate weight.
  4. The weights you need to represent will be the weights of the fish the group are hoping to catch on the fishing trip. Here’s some weights you could use as an example:
    • 5kg (Bass)
    • 8kg (Plaice)
    • 2kg (Black Bream)
    • 4kg (Brill)
  1. In their groups, everyone should attach their hook to a weighted water bottle to test the strength of their knot. Lift the bottle off the ground by the fishing line to see if the knot holds.
  2. Test the strength of each knot with each weight, so see which is best suited to hauling in which kind of fish.


This activity requires everyone to be patient, persevere with their learning and try out some new knots with new materials. Some will have had more success with the aid of diagrams, while some might have found videos to be more helpful. Others prefer one-to-one instruction, and some might benefit from a mix of all three approaches. Everyone should be sure to communicate what works best for them during future sessions, so leaders can adapt skills development methods to suit everyone’s wants and needs.


Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.