Best line for tow rig.

What do you think is the best line to use for a tow rig? Application is sea kayaking.


  • strong enough
  • floats
  • can easily pack 50 ft in a North Water bag (I translate this requirement to 3/16" dia line.)


  • relatively high elasticity (for shock absorption.)
  • durable
  • holds a knot well

    Any other attributes you would want in tow line?

    Any specific brand you would recommend? Please provide a web link or source if possible.



– Last Updated: Dec-24-07 2:53 PM EST –

floating requires Spectra or polypropelene. Neither of which stretch like nylon. Nylon sinks.

My $.02 get either of the floating lines then attach a bungie snubber. For a given breaking strength Spectra can be smaller and you can pack more in a smaller package but it tends to be stiffer. Not sure if there's a practical difference as the breaking strength of 1/4" polypropelene and 1/4" spectra which is probably more than you'd want to sustain on your body anyway. Knots reduce the breaking strength of a line by 20-40% which might be an issue for 3/16" poly with a bowline. Not sure.

The poly sleeve/spectra core line from APS used in sailboats is stiffer than the spectra cored rope sold by NRS. It would be nice if someone made a 3/16" spectra tow line.

I'm surprised NRS sells a 3/16" poly tow line. Not that a 500lb breaking strength(650 reduced by age, knots and wear) isn't sufficient but it seems to be reducing the margin of error significantly compared to 1/4" line.

This stuff looks good, I haven't held it but I suspect that it's soft and will cram into a small bag easily. Costs $.61/ft which is a bit less than 1/4 Spectra/Dyneema at $.80/ft.

@ 1300lbs breaking strength it's more than 1/4 Poly rope.

Good job
making me feel better about the Specra line I already bought :).

I didn’t realize polypro and Sprectra were the only two that float. What is it exactly that defines Spectra ®, if you know? It’s the core, right? What’s the material? I couldn’t find the answer.

Of course one can get hardware store variety polypro rope for $5. For example: I had some in my emergency kit before I bought a tow line. It’s pretty rigid though. Besides, something doesn’t feel right about paying only $5 for emergency gear! ;-). I’m sure it’s inferior in quality to rescue grade polypro rope.

The specra line I have is very soft and bends easy, feels more like nylon than polypro. I suspect it’s a polyester jacket, though the seller did say it was a polypro jacket. I inquired again to confirm, but haven’t heard back.

Thanks again,


Thanks for the links

– Last Updated: Dec-24-07 4:28 PM EST –

for specific ropes/lines.

I have it in another thread, but here's the link for the Specra line that I think I have, though I'm knot (bad pun intended) sure if this is it.


It seems like rigidity is a trade off. Flexible is good for easy packing in the bag. Rigid may be good for lower tangle factor (safety) in the water, would tend to straighten out in the water. So maybe a 3 is ideal on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest) rigidity. 10 not being like wire, but relatively rigid rope.


could be polypro jacket
there’s a big diference between the lower cost polypro with thick threads and the higher cost polypro like the Marstow braid.