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[Bowline] [Clove hitch] [Double Sheetbend] [Figure Eight Knot]  [Fisherman's Knot] [Lark's Head]
 [Left Handed Sheet bend]  [Sheep Shank] [Sheet bend] [Reef Knot] [Rolling Hitch] [Round turn and two half hitches]  [Tautline Hitch]  [Thumb Knot]   [Timber Hitch]

[Glossary of Terms for knots]

The Bowline

The Bowline Knot is one of the most used loop knots. This variant is most used in the world. Probably due to its simplicity, security, and its relationship with the Sheet bend.
 Keep the cross point in step A between a finger and thumb and make a clock-wise turn with your wrist. Without the loop in between, it is the same knot.

If the loop is expected to be heavily loaded, the bowline is, in fact, not secure enough. There is a rule of thumb which states that the loose end should be as long as 12 times the circumference for the sake of safety.

The Bowline
"Lay the bight to make a hole
Then under the back and around the pole
Over the top and thru the eye
Cinch it tight and let it lie"

In the same way that a Left Handed Sheet bend is a Sheet bend that has the running end of the rope coming out of the wrong side of the knot, a cowboy bowline is a bowline that also has the running end of the rope coming out of the wrong side of the knot. It suffers the same problems as the left handed sheet bend.

 Don't be afraid to use this knot to form a loop of any size in rope.

For added security, finish the knot with a stop knot such as a figure eight knot to remove any possibility of the Bowline slipping.

You can use this knot to put your hammock up. 
Use it whenever a stable knot is needed to support your weight. 
You should make sure that your bowline, when tied around a tree, is finished with a slip knot. Otherwise you will find great difficulty getting your hammock off the tree in the morning.

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To tie:

1. Make the overhand loop with the end held toward you, then pass end through loop. 

2. Now pass end up behind the standing part, then down through the loop again. 

3. Draw up tight. 


Clove Hitch

You can use this knot to attach a rope to a pole,
this knot provides a quick and secure result. 
It rarely jams, and can in fact suffer from the hitch unrolling under tension if the pole can turn.
Often used to start and finish lashings.

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This knot is the "general utility" hitch for when you need a quick, simple method of fastening a rope around a post, spar or stake.

Her's how you tie a Clove Hitch: 

1. Make a turn with the rope around the object and over itself. 

2. Take a second turn with the rope around the object. 

Pull the end up under the second turn so it is between the rope and the object. Tighten by pulling on both ends.

If you are in a situation where the clove hitch may unroll, add a couple of half hitches with the running end to the standing end of the knot, turning it into a "Clove Hitch and Two Half Hitches"!

When pioneering, use the Round turn and two half hitches to start and finish your lashings instead of the Clove Hitch.
 It won't unroll, and is easier to finish tying off.
It just doesn't look as neat!

Figure Eight Knot
(Flemish Knot, Savoy Knot)

A useful "STOP" knot to temporarily bulk out the end of a rope or cord
 the finished knot looks like its name.
 It is superior to using a Thumb Knot, because it does not jam so easily.

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The figure eight is useful to temporarily stop the ends of a rope fraying, before it is whipped. 

To tie: 

1. Make underhand loop, bringing end around and over the standing part. 

2. Pass end under, then up through the loop. 

3. Draw up tight. 

Fisherman's Knot
(Angler's knot, English knot, Englishman's bend, Halibut knot, True Lover's bend, Waterman's knot)

The Fisherman's knot is used to tie two ropes
of EQUAL THICKNESS together.

In other cases, use a method of bending two ropes together, such as a Sheetbend, a Double Sheetbend

 It is used by fishermen to join fishing line, and is very effective with small diameter strings and twines.

Tie a Thumb knot, in the running end of the first rope around the second rope. Then tie a thumb knot in the second rope, around the first rope. Note the Thumb knots are tied such they lie snugly against each other when the standing ends are pulled.

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When tying knots in monofilament line, moisten the line before pulling the knot tight. This helps to stop the line heating up with friction, which weakens it.

Lark's Head
(Cow Hitch, Lanyard Hitch)

The Lark's head knot is used to LOOSELY attach a rope to a pole or ring

The knot has two redeeming features, it is easy to tie, and it does not jam.
 However, it will slip fairly easily along the pole, and may slip undone when tied using man made fibre ropes.

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This is a knot to be avoided when a secure attachment is required. 
The Round turn and two half hitches, and the Clove hitch are far more secure.

Reef Knot
(Square Knot)

An excellent general purpose knot for tying two pieces of string or twine together, the reef knot is possibly the most commonly used knot for the job, and is easy to learn. However, it cannot be overly stressed that the Reef knot is not a long term or secure knot, and it should only be used to finish parcels or bindings. In other cases, use a more secure method of bending two ropes together, such as a Sheetbend, a Double Sheetbend, or a Fisherman's Knot.

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Unfortunately, the Reef knot can easily change into a slipping Lark's Head , so it should never be used where life or limb are at risk.

Holding one end of each rope in each hand, pass the left rope over the right, and tuck under. Then pass the same rope, now in the right hand, over the left rope, and tuck under.

A common to chant "Left over Right and Under, Right over Left and Under" when tying the knot. (This can also be performed as "Right over Left and Under, Left over Right and Under".)

The reef knot can easily be undone by gripping one loose end, and pulling it back over the knot, in the opposite direction, thus straightening the rope which is pulled.
The other rope forms a Lark's Head knot, and slips off the tugged rope.

The knot gets its name from its use on sailing ships, when the sails were "reefed" - rolled up and tied to the cross spar with a reef knot. To release the sail, the sailors would climb the rigging, and work their way along the cross spar, pulling the top end of the reef knot down. They only had to use one hand, holding on with the other. The weight of the sail would cause the reef knot to slip, and the sail would be released.

If you want to tie two ropes together of similar thickness then never use a Reef knot. Only use it with string and twine when tying parcels, whippings and bindings.

Never use this knot to join ropes of two different thicknesses. 

Taut line Hitch or Rolling Hitch
(Magner's Hitch, Magnus Hitch)


This hitch is really just an adjustable loop used for non-critical applications where you need to adjust the size of a loop to apply tension to guy lines, like on your tent.  

This hitch is used to attach one rope to a second, in such a manner that the first rope can be easily slid along the second.

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The knot can be considered a Clove hitch with an additional turn.

When tension is applied and the ropes form a straight line, the rolling hitch will lock onto the first rope. When the tension is released, the hitch can be loosened and slid along the first rope to a new location.

The tension must be applied on the side of the knot with the extra turn. 

Use this knot if you have a guy rope with no adjuster.
 Create a loop on the end of a second rope which is slipped over the peg. Use a rolling hitch to attach the second rope to the guyline. Alternatively, take the guyline around the peg and tie the Rolling hitch back onto the standing part of the guyline, above the peg, thus forming an adjustable loop.
Also known as the Tautline Hitch.

 When adjustments are complete, lock the rolling hitch into place by using a stop knot such as a figure eight in the first rope, below the Rolling hitch, to stop it slipping.

Since it will only slide one way, the Taut-line hitch is often used on tent ropes. The taut-line hitch will hold firmly on a smooth pole. Place rope end around pole, make a turn below it, then bring rope up across the standing part around the pole and tuck through.

The knot must be drawn up very snugly to work, and may not work at all on especially stiff or slippery rope.
Don't expect too much from it.  It's not a very secure loop. 
 If you tie down a load on the back of a truck with this, you're likely to find that your lines have gone slack after a few miles.

Round turn and two half hitches

Used to secure a rope to a pole, or to start or finish a lashing. Pass the running end of the rope over the pole twice. Then pass the running end over the standing part of rope, and tuck it back up and under itself, forming a half hitch. Repeat this for a second half hitch.

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This knot has a redeeming feature

it rarely jams!

 Superior to a Clove hitch  for starting and finishing a lashing as the half hitches prevent this knot from unrolling, as they have the effect of locking the knot. The Clove hitch  looks neater but it has a tendency to unroll, and can be difficult to tie tightly when tying off.


The Sheepshank is a shortening knot, which enables a rope to be shortened non-destructively.

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 The knot is only really secure under tension, it will fall apart when slack.

 Use up to five half hitches each end of the Sheepshank to make the knot more secure, and for fine tuning the shortening.

Try to refrain from cutting ropes to shorten them!
 Always use a shortening knot such as the Sheepshank, or coil the excess. 

  Sheet Bend
(Flag Bend, Common Bend)

The Sheetbend is commonly used to tie two ropes of unequal thickness together. The thicker rope of the two is used to form a bight, and the thinner rope is passed up through the bight, around the back of the bight, and then tucked under itself.

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The knot should be tied with both ends coming off the same side of the bend, as illustrated here. However it can easily be accidentally tied with the ends coming off opposite sides of the bend, when it is known as the Left Handed Sheet Bend.
The Left Handed Sheet Bend is to be avoided as it is less secure.

 If the ropes are of very unequal thickness, or placed under a lot of tension, 
use a Double Sheetbend.

 Double Sheet Bend

The Double Sheetbend is a more secure form of the Sheetbend.

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The thicker rope of the two is used to form a bight, and the thinner rope is passed up through the bight, around the back of the bight, around again before tucking under itself.

It is particularly useful when the thickness of the two ropes varies considerably, or when a more secure Sheetbend is required.

 Left Handed Sheet Bend

This knot is a wrongly tied Sheetbend, a very easy mistake to make.
 The ends of the ropes should both come off the same side of the knot, and NOT off opposite sides as shown here. The knot strength is severely reduced, and this knot should be avoided.

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Avoid this knot under all circumstances. 
Always use a Sheetbend.

Thumb Knot
(Overhand Knot)

This is the simplest knot of all. 
It is commonly use to temporarily "stop" the end of a fraying rope. 

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The overhand knot is commonly tied in a bight formed at the end of a rope, forming the Overhand Loop.

 The Thumbknot jams easily so it is far better to use a figure eight knot to stop the end of a fraying rope.

Timber Hitch

Used to attach a rope to a log, or where security is not an issue.
 This knot tightens under strain, but comes undone extremely easily when the rope is slack. 

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Wrap the rope around the log, then pass the running end around the standing part of the rope. Finally twist the running end around itself three or four times.
(Note: this is only shown twice in the animation.)

A useful knot around camp, the timber hitch will allow you to haul logs, timbers, pipe, and other cumbersome objects. You can count on this knot to never jam or slip. It's a good idea to complete this hitch with a half-hitch at the hauling end so the load won't twist.  

Butterfly Noose

When you need a loop in the middle of a rope that will not slip you will find this knot useful. You can create multiple hand or foot holds along a long rope or even place loops in your fishing line. This knot will never jam no matter what direction the load comes from.

Bight, Loop, Overhand

Knots are formed by using the bight-turn-tuck. Even the most complex knot can be figured out it you remember these terms.

The bight is formed by laying the end of the rope against the standing part or long end.

Loops, overhand or underhand, are just what their names say.

With these three turns, you can make any sort of knot.

A turn is wrapping the rope around something and a tuck is to insert the running end or a bight into a loop.



Bend - A bend is used to tie two ropes together, as in the Sheetbend. Technically, even the Reef knot is a bend.

Bight    a semi-circle of rope where the rope does not cross itself; also the part of the rope between the standing part and the end that can be used in tying the knot

Bight can have two meanings:

-- The main part of the rope from the running end to the standing end Also known as Standing Part

-- Where the rope is bent back to form a loop. An open curve in a line

Bitter End - The end of the line that you work with in tying knots. Also known as Running End

Dress - to remove slack in the knot by drawing up the knot neatly; to make sure the knot is tied correctly, that all parts are where they should be.

Friction Hitch - a knot tied directly to the standing part, another rope, or a cylindrical object that is adjustable (can be slid) when the knot itself is grabbed and moved, but otherwise stays put (from friction) when the load is on the standing part

Hitch - a knot that attaches a rope directly to an object

A hitch is used to tie a rope to a spar, ring or post, such as the Clove hitch. Hitches can also be used to tie one rope ONTO another rope, as in the Rolling hitch.

Jam - when the knot tightens under tension and you cannot get it undone!

Knot - Strictly speaking, a knot is tied in the end of a line as a stopper, such as the Thumb knot or figure eight knot.

Loop (sometimes called an EYE) - when a bight is closed (that is, when it crosses the line).

a circle of rope in which the rope crosses itself

Overhand Loop - a loop passing over the standing part.

Running End - the end of the rope that is being used to tie the knot. Also known as Bitter End

Set - to fully tighten a knot by pulling on all parts

Slip - to use a bight of rope instead of the end when finishing tying a knot; used to make untying a knot easier

Standing End - the static end of the rope.

Standing Part - The main length of line.  Also referred to as The Bight

the part of the rope not used in the knot itself

Stopper knots are used to stop the end of a rope fraying, or to stop it running through a small hole or constriction.

Twist - sort of self explanatory: the line is twisted around another.

Underhand Loop - a loop passing under the standing part.

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