End line (painter)

OK all you old guys, you know who you are, what is the best diameter rope for end lines? (3/8)?

Best rope material by brand name?


It floats and doesn’t rot from moisture.

UV ruins it, replace as required.

Best brand name is the one you find. 3/8ths, yes.

kernmantle polypro

– Last Updated: Dec-03-15 7:05 AM EST –

I have tried various diameters and my favorite is actually 7/16" diameter if you can find it. Three eighths inch is pretty good. Anything less than 5/16" cuts into your hand and 1/2" diameter rope is too stiff and knots tend to untie.

I would make sure that your rope is of kernmantle construction with an internal synthetic kern for strength and a softer external mantle. This is much easier on your hands than rope of solid braided or twisted polypropylene. The mantle might be 100% polypro or it might be a combination of polypropylene and polyester.

BlueWater rescue rope is excellent if you can find a vendor who will sell it by the foot. Unfortunately it is often only available in bulk lengths. Here is one vendor who sells it by the foot:


"Old guys"
Yikes - hope I don’t resemble that comment. :wink:

Best in what way?

– Last Updated: Dec-03-15 8:43 AM EST –

If you want the best strength, I think pblanc knows more than I, and I'd say follow his advice. If you just need rope for such things as tying up your boat on shore and for the convenience of having handling lines, you might do well enough to get common hollow-braid polypro rope from the big-box store. This rope is supple and easy to handle, even if it's not the best choice for doing heroic things. It's often packaged as being intended for boating purposes (that's one way to recognize the stuff, as it's probably packaged under various brand names).

buyer beware
Some of the 3/8" poly rope out there may look good but it is real garbage even for light use. The mantle degrades upon UV exposure very quickly and the cheap dye used to color the mantle stains your hands. After tying knots in it, such as a trucker’s hitch to cartop your boat, the kern breaks and then you have the mantle which is sort of like a hollow sausage casing with segments of broken kern inside.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what brands to avoid as this stuff is rebadged and sold under various names, or simply as no-name stuff. It is made in China and typically sold in 100 foot lengths for $10-20 per hundred foot. It looks like this:


I made the mistake of buying this garbage in each of the 4 different colors. I still have the red variety which I have used very infrequently and only for a clothesline. I would not trust it for any other purpose. The blue, yellow, and green stuff all did the same thing as described above.

If you buy this stuff you are literally throwing your money away. You would do better with clothesline.

By the Foot
I’ve had pretty good luck with the big box store (7/16th I think) rope sold by the foot, specifically the striped pattern. I’ve used it for painters on several boats (stored out of the sun) and it holds up well, looks nice and is easy to manage and soft on the hands. I wouldn’t depend on it for any real load bearing applications but I’d trust it for lining, catching in mid escape on the river or tying up or down.

End lines
Thanks very much for your prompt reply.

I can now go and buy rope.

Old Bayou Paddler

That’s not the stuff I’m talking about
I’ve used the stuff pictured in that link, and yes, it’s junk. The rope I’m talking about is fairly cheap, but still three or four times as expensive (per foot) as the stuff pictured. It’s braided, but not a solid braid (hence it has similar handling properties as good kern-mantle rope), it tolerates quite a few years of hard outdoor use, and I just replaced some that had been used for almost ten years on the winch-and-pulley storage hoist for my most frequently used canoe (and that rope takes a beating on the pulleys).

So, I’m not sure how to advise on this, except to say “fairly cheap rope” can be fine for average use. I’m just not sure how to define or describe this particular level of quality!

Walmarts floating
poly rope lasts under UV, ties well for docking. Always available.

Is Wal’s rope same as Saxon"s ?

Is if you buy from Wal

Wals small diameter cord in the black holder also very good.

Both as a disposable inexpensive rope are best buys and not failing, fraying in the middle. Very good.

I’m sure that there are multiple brands of decent synthetic rope available at the local big box stores that are strong enough to use as canoe painters for typical usage. I just don’t know any specific brands off-hand.

The crappy stuff I mentioned seems to be turning up everywhere I go these days and sometimes is the only option. I mention it because at first glance it doesn’t look all that bad.

I don’t mind spending $30 or so for really high quality rope for a pair of canoe painters. Although I have many canoes, I use the same painters on multiple different boats. A bowline knot is quick to tie and untie.

Unexpected things happen and you never know when you might have to tie onto one of your painters to pull your boat off a pin. I have seen situations in which a pinned boat was completely submerged in current such that only the attached painter was accessible. Or you might have to take the painter off and use it as an anchor around a tree to secure a Z-drag if you don’t happen to have a webbing anchor at hand. In these types of situations the stronger the better.

New England Ropes
I remember when their catalogue was just stapled sheets of courier type. They would sell me small batches of various rescue ropes in various colors direct from the factory. Now you may have to go through West Marine, Jamestown or some other dealer.

I like 3/16" for flatwater painter lines and 3/8" for whitewater.



Lines for canoes
I agree with the 3/8 and 7/16s line of thinking. There are plenty of high quality lines like those under the heading of yacht braid. They are nylon or Dacron with an outer cover for abrasion resistance. They have nice “hand” and feel good to work with and resist UV. They are flexible enough to use 1/2 inch. They don’t float but that is not much of an issue compared to a poly line that breaks at the wrong moment when lining boats in a lot of current.

My B.S. meter is off the scale
Even the rather cheap 3/8" Poly rope that I use has a working load limit of 180 pounds. Since by industry standard the minimum breaking strength is 12-times the working load limit, it’s reasonable to assume that you’ll likely need to put at least one ton of tension on the rope before it snaps. I’ve had the same rope fail when using it to winch a small motorboat up a steep incline onto a trailer, but that rope was 20 years old and had been very badly degraded by sun exposure, and the tension when it failed was certainly in excess of 300 pounds. If you are breaking 3/8" poly rope with arm strength alone when lining boats, I suggest that you replace it more often than once every 30 years.

I’ll stick with floating rope for painters.

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