adding bungee to tow rope

I have a tow rope that didn’t come with a bungee to soften any shocks as I am towing.

Are bungees that useful that I should consider adding one?

If so, any suggestions on how to add one? Currently it is just 50’ of rope tied directly to my waist bag. Any suggestions on thickness of bungee, bungee to rope ratio, how to securely attach bungee to rope, etc?

Muchas gracias.

I tied two loops in the middle of my tow
rope and tied an eight foot loop of 3/8 bungee through it. It is a little messy to pack, but it was a quick way to add shock absorption to my tow line. I would not splice bungee in the line as it is much weaker than the line itself. Where I paddle, we do not get ocean surf action, if we did I would buy a high end tow line.

A few ideas.

– Last Updated: Nov-19-07 7:00 PM EST –

If you daisy chain your line, and aren't using the full 50 ft, that will add some shock absorption. Still, most people I know like the shock cord.

North water uses shrink tube to connect the shock cord to tow line. See the picture at the bottom of this page.

Another possibility is to use a rolling hitch.

As moparharn mentioned, you want to keep the tow line continuous, with the shock cord in parallel, so that if the connection gives way you still have a functional tow line.

("Show me a person who's happy with their tow rig, and I'll show you a person who hasn't used it enough." Unknown)

in parallel

– Last Updated: Nov-19-07 7:44 PM EST –

Yeah, I was thinking that it would be in parallel, similar to what you show with the North Water system.

I used to work for a company that makes heat shrink - I doubt that the heat shrink itself is the attachment method. More likely it is used to cover and seal what ever is the actual attachment method.

Good point
on the heat shrink. I wonder if whipping the shock cord to the main line would work?


Metal swag
There is a metal cable clamp under the shrink wrap. I’ve used a single fisherman’s knot at both ends of the bungee to put an inline bungee into home made tow rigs

An easy way that worked for me
Get 3/16 or 1/4 inch bungie - I used about 2 feet.

Attach the bungie to the tow line with a plastic electrical tie wrap.

Neatly coil the tow line around the bungie and fasten the other end of the bungie to the tow line with a plastic electrical tie wrap.

I have been able to tow rafted tows with this set-up without them coming apart. I have also used this set-up to pull a rafted tow out through surf and also used it as a part of a two on two tow in through surf.

thanks for the link aquaman
nice practical jpg i’ll use for instructional purposes.

Pardon my ignorance
What are you people towing?


I have an album on tow rig mods…
…on Webshots at:

other boats
Tow ropes are something you are happy to see other people carry, and they are happy to see you carry - as they aren’t generally used for yourself. They are used to tow a kayaker should they become incapacitated (dislocated shoulder, too tired, sea sick, etc.).

In this case, we are talking for sea kayaking. Other uses have different needs (I think whitewater is mostly used as a throw rope from shore to help someone who got separated from their boat back to shore).

I’ve towed people and a SOT loaded with over a hundred pounds of trash. I found the dead weight of the trash to be easier than the paddler behind assisting. i tried the long toe rope on both with and with the tow belt. The 50 rope was a killer because I spent so much time keeping the towed boat straight.

A sort rope did the job better in both case.

This is a great workout and something to practice in case of injury or fatigue

Lenght of your tow rope is dependent
on the period of the waves.

Out here on the West Coast, we usually need longer lines than you do on the East because we get longer period waves than you do. Ours are usually less steep with anywhere from 10 - 20 seconds between them. While yours are usually steep with very short periods.

The general rule is to keep two wave crests between the tower and the towee. That way they won’t surf into you.

If the towed boat has a rudder or skeg…
…dropping it will keep the boat in line with the towing boat, whether there’s a paddler assisting or not. It completely eliminates the yawing that’s common when towing and it works with any length of tow rope.

Source for metal cable clamp?
Anyone have a source for the metal clamp used on the North Water tow line to hold the bungee to the tow line? I’ve searched the web but haven’t found anything that appears to be as low a profile as what must be under the shrink tube on the North Water. A web link with photo would be great!


Go to
the West Marine website and type “hogrings” in their search block. They also sell shrink fit tubing.

thanks for starting this thread peter_ca
you gave me an idea

why not fall back on good old knots, instead?

a sheet bend will connect two lines

why not tie one sheet bend, then coil your tow line around the bungee, then tie off the other end in a second sheet bend?

if anything comes undone, the tow line maintains its integrity :slight_smile:

I brought one for you.
“Tow ropes are something you are happy to see other people carry, and they are happy to see you carry.”

During a pre-trip discussion of medical conditions that the group should be aware of, I said, half kidding, “worst case scenario is you’ll have to raft me up and tow me in.” One of the people in the group exclaimed, “I don’t have a tow rope! ;-).” I pointed to the belt on my waist and said said, “That’s OK, I brought one for you! :-).”


Best way to shrink the shrink tube?
What’s a good way to heat shrink the tube and not cook your line?

Thanks on the hog rings. I came across those last night actually on west marine and was thinking that might be the item. Thanks for confirming. The ones on the North Water rig look like they might be a spiral rather than a ring that joins at the ends. I wonder if they’re hog rings?

I’m thinking of building a tow line from scratch to replace the line that’s on my North Water. Use a smaller diameter line for better packing. Maybe spyderline from West Marine. It comes in a number of diameters. I’m thinking of using a hog ring and shrink tube at the biner, actually, to eliminate the knot there that tends to get caught in deck lines, especially on an inline tow where the line is passed under a front deck line and back to the paddler on the first towing boat.

If I do go with a knot at the biner, I’m at least going to whip the lose end back to the main line so that doesn’t snag.

Thoughts on best way to connect the biner at the end to eliminate snags on deck lines?


That looks like a good simple knot.
Thanks for the suggestion.

Not as streamlined as the hog ring and shrink wrap, but I don’t think that matters too much at the bungee. Also, if it mattered, which it doesn’t in this case as the breaking strength of most tow lines are way overkill, the bend in the main line on the sheet bend would reduce the breaking strength over a knot like the rolling hitch.

Nice idea on the sheet bend. I might use it. It is simple, and streamlined as knots go.