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The Duncan Loop and a spat about it

By Skip Clement

The Uni-Knot name was coined by a likable outdoor writer who passed away a dozen or so years ago. His renaming of the Duncan Loop came after being shown by Norman how it was tied, and the various applications it could be applied to, but that was decades ago. Although the outdoor writer took claim – he recanted on the indiscretion many years ago.

Norman Duncan at the Palm Beach Docks in 1963, with a ho-hum snook. Well, just like they always say: “They were much bigger in those days,” Photo courtesy of Norman Duncan.

Recently, the Duncan Loop (incorrectly called the Uni-Knot) regained attention, in some corners, as the best all-around knot one could use in fly fishing. And to the dismay of some, it’s author grumbling about the video produced by Tim Flagler showing how to tie it. The video and comments about the knot appeared in MidCurrent, fly fishings most watched/read website.

The inventor of the knot, Norman Duncan, commented on the video’s flaw after I called his attention to his knot becoming so popular that famed videographer Tim Flager saw fit to profile it and champion its assets. I did not draw Norman’s attention to the video because of seeing the flaw because I didn’t see it.

 

Here are the drawings and following comments about tying the Duncan Loop, which points to the flaw – seating the knot.

The Controversy as it unfolded in MidCurrent

Norman Duncan: “Originally named the ‘Duncan Loop’, this video is a poor representation of the ways to tie my knot.”

Respondent: “Then maybe you should make a video and show us the ‘good’ representation of how to tie ‘your’ knot.”

Norman Duncan: “I don’t have the set-up and no one seems interested.”

The teaming up in the comment section of MidCurrent was one-sided.

My interview with Norman ended with his saying that Tom Flagler tied the knot correctly, just missed the seating. Adding: “Not putting tension on the standing line while simultaneously pulling the tag end can result in the loops not sliding back over themselves properly – not form the knot perfectly and assure the best performance.

From my illustrations:

I start by tying an overhand knot with the mono around both the loop and the mono leader, passing the end of the mono through the loop three to six times then pulling it down with tension on both the mono leader and the tag end. When the mono folds over and starts snugging down, I then slid the knot down to the end of the leader and cinched it. By experimenting with different methods of tying this knot, I finally developed the following method as the easiest:

Step 7: Pull the tag end and standing line together hard enough so that the knot will begin to fold over itself and snug enough to not loosen.

Step 8: Then put the loop on something smooth and solid like a small cleat or a gaff hook underfoot. Grasp the tag end with pliers and the standing line with the other hand then apply equal tension on both lines in the same direction, pull slowly to control the loop size until the knot folds over its self then harder on the tag end until it snugs up to the desired tightness.”

Here’s how to tie the real Duncan Loop

Drawings and instructions by Norman Duncan as follows:

Step 1: First grasp the end of the line with your lead hand and pull it through the opposite thumb and forefinger.

Step 1: First grasp the end of the line with your lead hand and pull it through the opposite thumb and forefinger.

Step 2: Continue to pull the line toward then around the base of the little finger to form a loop.

Step 2: Continue to pull the line toward then around the base of the little finger to form a loop.

Step 3: Hold both lines lightly with the same thumb and forefinger pull the end out about 8 inches of line past the thumb.

Step 3: Hold both lines lightly with the same thumb and forefinger pull the end out about 8-inches of line past the thumb.

Step 4: Twist the tag end and circle it around to create a 3 inch diameter loop with about 3 inches sticking out.

Step 4: Twist the tag end and circle it around to create a 3-inch diameter loop with about 3-inches sticking out.

Step 5: Pass the tag end over both lines and through the loop that you just formed.

Step 5: Pass the tag end over both lines and through the loop that you just formed.

Step 6: Pass through at least three times for mono over 100 pound test and successively more times with successively smaller line sizes.

Step 6: Pass through at least three times for mono over 100-pound test and successively more times with successively smaller line sizes.

Step 7: Pull the tag end and standing line together hard enough so that the knot will begin to fold over itself and snug enough to not loosen.

Step 7: Pull the tag end and standing line together hard enough so that the knot will begin to fold over itself and snug enough not to loosen.

Step 8: Then put the loop on something smooth and solid like a small cleat or a gaff hook under foot. Grasp the tag end with pliers and the standing line with the other hand then apply equal tension on both lines in the same direction, pull slowly to control the loop size until the knot folds over its self then harder on the tag end until it snugs up to the desired tightness.

Step 8: Then put the loop on something smooth and solid like a small cleat or a gaff hook under foot. Grasp the tag end with pliers and the standing line with the other hand then apply equal tension on both lines in the same direction, pull slowly to control the loop size until the knot folds over its self then harder on the tag end until it snugs up to the desired tightness.

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