A Guide to Tying Knots

Of all the tools humans have created, from the most primitive to the most technologically advanced, probably the most versatile and useful is the knot. There are many kinds of knots and many different uses for them, depending on the job they need to do. To get an idea of how important knots are to everyday life even in our modern age, consider the great variety of places in which knots are used. These include commercial and recreational fishing, rock climbing, scouting, surgery, farming, search and rescue operations and even clothing and jewelry.

Much of the time, knots secure things in place, so they mean safety. To ensure safety and keep things in place, knots must be tied properly so they don’t slip, loosen or come apart. It’s also important to use the right knot for a particular job because they vary in strength and functionality. A knot’s usefulness in a particular situation can also depend on the type of rope being used. Knots can have multiple purposes and often there’s a choice in which knot to use to get the job done.

Most of us associate knots with boating. Anyone who’s ever seen a boat tied to a dock has seen the bowline knot, which loops around a post, ring or cleat on the dock. This knot gets tighter as tension on the mooring line increases, keeping the boat in place when the tide changes, the water gets choppy or the wind picks up. There are also knots for hauling, trawling, tying down and opening sails and attaching the anchor to its line. Boating knots are used on fishing boats, along with several other types of knots for joining a hook to a line, a line to a tackle, two lines together and more.

Boating knots are also familiar to rock climbers. For example, rock climbers might use bowline knots to secure their rope around permanent, stable objects and the clove hitch knots to attach to the anchor. They also use several other types of knots for keeping the harness secure, hooking to stable objects or making handles in the rope for other climbers to use. Knots are also a fundamental skill set for all search and rescue workers to use in emergency situations.

Knots aren’t just for special purposes, they’re also part of many childhood scouting experiences, where learning and using knots is included in troop meetings and other activities like camping and hiking. Knots are also common in everyday household tasks, including gardening, tying packages, securing children’s swings, crafting, tying shoes, and temporary repairs to furniture or fences.

Everybody uses knots at some point and learning them can be fun and useful. Chances are, knowing how to tie knots and when to use them will come in handy at some point, either in a team activity or an unanticipated situation that can be solved by securing a means of pulling, towing, lifting, carrying, or grabbing. This article will talk about various kinds of knots used in boating, climbing, fishing, scouting, search and rescue, and household activities while providing resources to help you learn the knots.


Boating knots include knots like the sheet bend knot. This knot joins two knots of unequal size so that they act like ropes of the same size. Figure 8 knots are known as “stopper knots” because they keep the ends of a rope from sliding through a sheave. Bowline knots are the most widely used boating knots. Other examples include the fisherman’s bend, the rolling hitch, the reef knot, the eye splice, and the clean hitch. All these knots have a variety of uses including tying sails down, securing things on deck, and securing the anchor.

  • Bowline: Animation showing how to tie bowline knots.
  • Anchor Bend:Animation illustrating how to tie this know, also called the “sailor’s knot.”
  • Clean Hitch: A video that shows how to tie a clean hitch knot as well as other types of knots.
  • Sheet Bend: Some images that showing how to tie a sheet bend.
  • Clove Hitch: Explains how to tie a clove hitch.
  • Square Knot: Animation and step by step diagram on tying a square knot.


Climbers have their own array of knots. Waterman knots are used to tie ends of webbing together. Double Figure 8 knots are considered very secure. It’s absolutely necessary to know Prusik knots because your life could depend on it. In rescue situations, the Prusik knot is often the only one that can save you, as it allows you to ascend a single rope. There is also the alpine butterfly knot, the munter mule, the double overhand stopper knot, and the blakes hitch, all of which are important and useful.

  • Figure 8 Knots: Explains how to tie a figure 8 knot.
  • Waterman Knot: Provides instructions about how to tie waterman knots.
  • The Prusik Knot: Shows how to properly tie a Prusik knot.
  • Tying a Harness: A look at the types of knots used for climbing harnesses.
  • The Double Figure Eight: Animation and explanation about tying this knot.
  • Munster Friction Hitch: Animation that shows how to tie this knot, which is also called an Italian or Sliding-Ring Hitch.


Knots are integral to the success of fishing enthusiasts. The perfection loop creates a small loop in a rope while a nail knot is used to join lines that have two different diameters. Rapalla knots are used to provide a connection between a line and a lure. An improved clinch knot is used to join a hook or lure to a fishing line. The Albright knot is used to join lines of unequal size. Other types of knots of fishing are the trilene knot, the surgeon’s loop, and the dropper loop.

  • Improved Clinch Knot: Provides instructions on tying the improved clinch knot.
  • Double Swivel Knot: Multiple animations that explain how to tie double swivel knots.
  • Trilene Knot: The art of tying trilene knots.
  • Albright Knot: Provides instructions on tying a good alright knot.
  • Uni Knot: Shows how to tie a proper uni-knot.
  • Double Grinner Knots: Teaches how to tie double grinner knots.
  • Arbor Knot: Discusses the uses of different fishing knots and how to tie them.


Scouting knots are used for a variety of purposes. The rolling hitch knot secures one rope to another rope that’s parallel. The double overhand stopper knot is used to prevent the end of a rope from passing through a block or pulley. A trucker’s hitch is used to secure loads down to hooks or fixed points. Other types of knots include the sheet bend, the sailor’s whipping, the eye splice, and the sheepshank.

  • Overhand Bow: Offers information about overhand bow knots, also called water knots.
  • Unnamed Bend: Provides instructions on tying unnamed bend knots.
  • Reef Knots: Some basic instructions about tying reef knots.
  • Round turn: Animation of round turn and two half hitches.
  • Turkshead Knot: Shows how to tie turkshead knots.
  • Rolling Hitch Knot: Explains how to tie rolling hitch knots.
  • Double Overhand Stopper Knot: An interactive animation that explains how to tie these knots.
  • Timber Hitch Knot: A video that explains how to tie this knot.


Search and rescue knots are used for assisting in the searching and rescuing of people in danger. Hasty harnesses are tied around people to help secure and lift them out of dangerous areas. The double overhand stopper knot is often used as a precursor to other types of knots. Other types of search and rescue knots include the trucker’s hitch, the clove hitch, the bowline, and the water knot.


Household ties are basically ties that are used around the house. These types of knots include the four in hand or half Windsor knots that are used to secure neckties. Then, there are child swing knots, parcel knots, various shoelace knots, Halloween knots, Fieggen knots, and more.

Additional Resources

It’s just as important to know how to take care of ropes as it is to know how to use them to tie knots. Ropes need to be handled properly and stored carefully so that they don’t accidentally snap when you need to use them. Knots can even be used for decoration. Rope care and safety is important.

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