by George Poveromo

The Bimini twist/Bristol knot connection is small enough to pass through most rod guides, making it ideal for light-tackle casting work. The same advantage allows a long leader to be wound onto the reel when landing offshore species such as sailfish, tuna, dolphin and shark.Light-tackle anglers should always seek out the strongest and least obtrusive connections when building their terminal-tackle (line, leader, sinker, hook or lure) system. While a swivel is a good option for connecting line to leader, especially where line twist is a concern, it may not be small enough to pass cleanly through the rod guides. This can prevent you from reeling the bait or lure to the rod tip, and may also inhibit casting accuracy. The longer the leader, the more problematic a swivel becomes.    
The other option is to use a knot. There are several knots for joining the main line to a heavier leader. The more popular ones include the Albright knot and the surgeon‚s knot, both of which are useful for connecting lines of greatly varying diameters. These knots result in terminal connections that are strong, reliable and compact enough to pass through most rod guides. Being able to wind a lure or bait to the rod tip greatly enhances casting accuracy and often helps in landing a fish. Furthermore, the lack of a swivel should make the leader system less visible and reduce the risk of a cut-off caused by another fish that mistook the swivel for a snack!

My favorite light-tackle, line-to-leader connection for casting, free-lining baits and (sometimes) jigging is the Bimini twist/Bristol knot combination. Here's how it works: I first tie a Bimini in the end of my line to create a section of double line that‚s roughly two feet long. I'm not interested in a super-long double line that can be wound onto the reel, one that enables me to apply extra pressure on a fish near the boat. That's an advantage reserved for double lines in big-game trolling. Instead, I'm seeking knot strength, and the Bimini retains nearly 100 percent of the line's rated breaking strength.

I'm also a big fan of the Bristol knot, which I use to join the Bimini loop to the leader, because it's smaller than most knots and easily passes through the rod guides. When trimmed closely, the tag end is not likely to snag any weeds.

Although I use the Bristol knot with leaders as short as two feet, the connection really shines in creating long wind-on leaders for spinning and baitcasting tackle. For example, when casting live baits and jigs to dolphin, I generally use a 12- and 20-pound-class spinning outfit rigged with 15 feet of 40- or 50-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. Thanks to the Bimini-Bristol connection, I can reel the jig or bait to the rod tip for long and accurate casts without the knot hanging up in the guides. The "smoothness" factor also helps prevent natural baits from flying off the hook during a cast. And, since the connection passes freely through the rod guides and onto the reel, it's not likely to interfere with fighting a fish.

I prefer long leaders in the situation described above to prevent the lighter fishing line from making contact with a big dolphin during a fight. Also, after landing a fish, I can simply clip off the damaged section of leader before retying the lure or hook. This beats having to tie on a whole new leader when the fishing's hot!

Tying the Bristol Knot
1 Pass the leader through the Bimini loop. 2 Keeping your index finger hooked around the leader, wrap the leader five to seven times around the doubled line. 3 Pass the leader back through the loop formed by your index finger. Bring the end out six inches. 4 Cinch down the knot very tightly by moistening it and pulling down on both the leader and double line. Trim the tag end, which should protrude at a 90-degree angle.

Although you might be reading about the Bristol knot for the first time, it isn't new. In fact, I first learned how to tie it in the late 1970s from Bob Colvin, one of my early fishing mentors. As the story goes, the knot was developed by an angler from Bristol, Tennessee, who fished for fresh water striped bass, hence the name "Bristol."

Back in the '70s, only a handful of South Florida anglers used the knot, and the lack of publicity over the years preserved its obscurity. Then, seven years ago, legendary skipper Skip Smith and I were having lunch when the subject of wind-on leaders for big game came up. Smith proceeded to show me a nameless wind-on connection for spinning tackle, which I quickly recognized as the Bristol knot I had become familiar with years ago. Like others who used this knot, Smith confirmed that it was a great light-tackle, line-to-leader connection. I eventually wrote about the knot in SWS, as well as in my Seminar Series textbook.

Since I frequently refer to the Bimini-Bristol connection at my seminars, I'm often asked how it's tied. Therefore, we thought it would be useful to go over both knots again. Whether you prefer baitcasting or spinning gear, live baits or lures, the Bimini-Bristol combination is definitely a connection that belongs in your arsenal

Tying the Bimini Twist

1 Measure a little more than twice the length you'll want for the section of double line. Bring the tag end back over the standing line and firmly hold the two strands together with one hand. With your other hand, make approximately 18 to 20 twists by rotating the end of the loop. 2 Maintaining tension on the fishing line, spread the loop and place it over your knee, then pull the tag end out at a 90-degree angle to the twists. This will tighten and draw the twists toward your knee. Note: To tie this part of the knot, I often place the rod in a holder behind me, with the line running over my shoulder. I use a bucket or cooler to elevate my knee, which helps prevent the loop from slipping off. I can also tuck the line underneath my arm to apply more tension if needed. 3 Place your index finger inside the loop and pull it upward against the twists. At the same time, gradually ease tension on the tag end so that it begins to roll down and over the column of twists. 4 Keep your index finger pressed tightly against the base of the wraps and maintain tension on the standing line to hold everything in place. Now take the tag end and make a half-hitch around one leg of the loop, which will secure the wraps. At this point, tension is no longer needed to hold the wraps in place. 5&6 Finish with a locking hitch (uni knot) around both legs of the loop. 7 Trim the tag end close to the knot.