Tag Archive: Knots


Essential Knot #2: The Bowline


Rope, and knots as an extension, is one of those utility arts that I think more people need to be more familiar with.  Learning to tie any of the important knots is not difficult, you just have to practice it for a bit (just like tying shoes).  If you’re already well versed in knots, then today I don’t have anything new for you.

There are any number of knots which I would call essential.  The trucker’s hitch (which I shared a while ago), the square knot, the fisherman’s knot, the slip knot, the half-hitch, and on and on.  Among these essential knots is a fairly simple, yet extremely useful, knot: The bowline.

The bowline is a quick and easy way to put a standing loop in a rope that won’t slip and can easily be unknotted when not under load.  You would be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t be) by how often knowing how to tie a bowline comes in handy around the house/yard.

While there are other ways to tie standing knots, some of which are more structurally sound or are more useful for doing loops in the bight, the bowline is the essential utility loop knot that everyone should know.  Becoming familiar with several of the bowline variants is also a good idea, but one step at a time.  Be warned: the bowline is a gateway knot to other, harder knots.  Like the bimini twist.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

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One of the more essential knots* for a body to learn is the Triple Fisherman’s Knot.  It’s a variant of the Double Fisherman’s Knot that adds a third pass to increase the stability and reliability of the join.  It also prevents a high-loading failure mode of some modern climbing ropes.  I typically tie the triple because it only takes a slight moment longer to do vs. the double, even if the triple isn’t really necessary for most needs.

Both knots are used to attach two cords together (used in fishing to attach leaders without using a swivel).  From a physics standpoint, the knots work by using the pressure of the knots against each other to tighten down the inward facing side of the knot, causing it to bite down on both the lines passing through the center of the knot, meanwhile the top of the knot is being pulled into the knot in the opposite direction, compacting the knot and clamping it down tighter.  This combined compression actions results in a secure join.

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