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Tarpon Leaders
-Slim Beauty vs Two Turn Blood Knot

by Marilyn Davis

In summer 1995 Capt. Simon Becker of Key West, FL and I created The Slim Beauty. One nite Simon and I were tying mountains of Bimini Twists to prepare for the upcoming tarpon season. 

We would tie the bimini's and then hang them on a coat hanger awaiting the rest of the leader. The Bimini is not a difficult knot to tie, but it does take time to tie them. It's actually better to tie them at home where you can concentrate on them.

A traditional tarpon leader was completed by tying the butt section of the leader to the class tippet by first completing the bimini on each end of the class tippet and then tying a Huffnagle knot to the shock tippet and a loop to loop connection to the butt section. 


Simon wanted to remove one of the Bimini Twists in the setup to half our prep time. We tried blood knots, variations of clinch knots and finally progressed to the Tom Pierce knot used for tying braided wire to monofilament. The 'Tom Pierce knot' eventually was a knot used in winter for rigging to catch barracuda.

The Tom Pierce knot

1. Tie a double overhand knot in the wire. The double overhand knot creates a figure 8. This 8 , turned on its side, will look like it could be a dish and hold water. 

2. Thread the mono leader through the '8'; let it lay flat against the wire. Pull the wire tight and complete this section. 

3. Now tie a 6 turn improved clinch knot around the wire. Pull the knot down and let it rest on the double figure 8 in the wire.

The Tom Pierce knot on the tarpon leaders created impressive strength, but we knew that the knot had to be stronger. We both liked the double overhand knot and how it offered an excellent stop for the clinch knot.

This fish was caught off-guard when this shrimp fly
fooled him


This was good and tested out at about 90% but when we doubled the line and did the same thing, the knot slid into place with a unique look and impressive strength of about 95%. 


Satisfied, we decided to head out to dinner at a Cuban Cafe' located where Ambrosia Sushi now resides and were greeted by a vivacious Cuban waitress.  She instructed us to sit down and get ready to order.  When she returned, she had nicknames for all of us. 


She looked at me and said 'You ready to Order?  Let's start with you, Slim Beauty.'  We all laughed and she then called Simon 'Slim Slick'.  As we were eating she came back by and told me 'You eat them onions, Slim Beauty' which still exists as an inside joke and comes up now and then in conversation. 


Back home, we tied up a few more knots and we felt like the double improved blood/double figure 8 was the best and that we would start using it in our fishing.  I said 'What should we call it' and seemingly without thinking Simon said 'The Slim Beauty'.



Fluorocarbon line has the same light refractive capabilities as water so that means that it is supposed to have far less shine and be less visible underwater.  This is a great reason to try fluorocarbon but what made me stick with using it was the fact that is was so easy to stretch in the field. 


When a line is stretched it looses its memory and lays completely straight.  Some types of line are easier to stretch than others.  In the early days, we would use Mason brand monofilament which is probably the nastiest, hardest and most difficult to tie line ever created.  We would go to unbelievable means to stretch this line and keep it straight.  From attaching the line to a tree and using a trailer winch or even a car to pull the line tight and remove memory to pouring boiling water over the line, we tried it all. 


Once straightened, we would cut the line into 18 inch lengths and store them in a PVC tube.  With Fluorocarbon, 80 pound leader could easily be stretched and straightened by hand and achieve the same results right off the spool. 


This, in itself eliminated a major step in preparing for tarpon season but it also immediately eliminated the need for leader stretcher boxes and the snarl of lines that went with them.  I gladly retired my stretcher box and the nightmares, hassle and time associated to preparing that for the season.


I decided that if we could eliminate one bimini from the system, why not eliminate both of them.  I started tying a slim beauty knot from the butt section to the class and the class to the shock.  I attached the fly with a Non slip Mono loop knot. 


After seeing a few fish lost to one or the other Slim Beauty breaking, I decided to experiment with other knots.  Since fluorocarbon was easier to tie, I could now easily tie a blood or improved blood knot from the butt section to the class with doubled line.  After two seasons of doing this, I determined


that the blood knot was stronger than the slim beauty. So slowly I tied two blood knots instead of the Slim Beauty. My blood knots evolved from the bulky and hard to tie improved blood knot to what I call a two turn blood. I simply double the class tippet and wrap it 5 times around the butt section. I will turn the butt section ONLY two times around the class and pull tight. This is surely the best & strongest way to tie this knot. The two turns allow you to properly pull the knot down and reduce slippage.

The Non Slip Mono loop with heavy line didn't work for me, because it cocked the fly off to the side. In Trey Combs Bluewater Flyfishing article, there was a Steve Huff knot in the knot section that i liked. I used the double figure 8, because it pulled the fly perfectly straight and was really strong.

This liberated me from pre-tied leaders. My tarpon flies in plastic sleeves fit perfectly in a Plano 3700 box. Because I am not terribly concerned with World Record Tarpon on a day to day basis, I tie my shock leaders long and simply cut off the fly and retie if I want to change patterns. Case closed!! An easy no brainer

The Slim Beauty was so well received because it helped in so many ways. It showed anglers that there was an alternative to the bulky, difficult tarpon leaders of the past. 

Once Fluorocarbon leader became available, tarpon leaders transformed into something that made not only our prep work easier but also increased the storage area in the boats and eliminated the birds nests so often associated with trying to keep 60 flies ready on leaders in a stretcher box. 

In hindsight, the Slim Beauty was a revolutionary idea but when that idea was coupled with technological advances like fluorocarbon, the sport and tackle really began to change.


Tying the Slim Beauty


  1. fly fishing
  2. Straighten the
    Fluorocarbon shock leader by pulling on it

  3. Tie a double overhand knot in one end

  4. fly fishing

    Slowly tighten the double overhand until it looks like the photo

  5. Thread the doubled line through the double overhand as shown

  6. Wrap the doubled line around the shock tippet 5 times

  7. Wrap it back over itself 4 times

  8. Finish the knot like a Blood knot as shown

  9. Pull both ends of the doubled shock tippet and the shock tippet until knot is snug and tight

  10. Trim the tag ends and go fishing


Tying the Two Turn Blood Knot

  1. Straighten the shock tippet
  2. double the class tippet
  3. Wrap the doubled line around the shock tippet 5 times and put it back through the loop as shown
  4. Wrap the shock tippet ONLY 2 times and finish as a standard blood knot
  5. Trim Tag ends and go fishing



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