Which knots should a kayaker start picking up after getting into the sport? As I cannot even tell you the names of the three knots I know (mostly from fishing), I was wondering if someone could pass on some crucial ones to learn.

I looked at a few books on the subject, and quickly found out one could spend a year and a half just learning the myriad of knots in most of them…

So, yeah, like my profile says I am very new at this.

Thanks in advance

Get a long rope…
with a clip at each end.

Knots are for sissies.

What would that be good for?

You can clip one end…
around your rigging or grab-handle or whatever, then wrap and clip the other end around something like a tree or whatever is available.

If you really want to learn about knots though, check in the archives. Lots of good info there.

Knot sissies…

– Last Updated: Mar-01-06 10:29 PM EST –

Besides a bowline or clove hitch to tie up your kayak at night, I don't think there's a great deal of knot learning to do in kayaking. A cleat hitch, sheet bend, daisy chaining, lark's head and a figure eight might come in handy at times. Some folks might get more into marlinspike seamanship as a hobby doing eye splices and the like, but it's probably more for sailing and to a lesser degree, motor yatching than it is for kayaking. But have at it and teach us some more knots and rope splicing tricks!

Let's see...naughty boys on dreadnoughts doing knots do not know their knots. Pretty bad, I know--what else can we come up with?

learn 'em all!!!


Larks head?
never used one. The others are all good. One knot that you should have mentioned was the power cinch (or canoe hitch). Use it to strap on the boat and to recover pinned boats.

Awesome site Flatpick thanks
I have found that I use 4 knots all the time Bowline,Half hitch, square, and truckers, The rest are fun and good to know, You never know when you’ll need a good knot.


Others have mentioned various knots, I will add that not necessary for kayaking specifically but a few knots are good to know in general and these I get from mountaineering. A figure eight, yosemite bowline, butterfly, are useful knots to use to clip into things with a 'biner. A butterfly knot is also a good way to repair a frayed rope (to isolate the frayed part). A clove hitch is a good friction knot to know as mentioned for docking. A trucker’s hitch is good for the bow/stern line when kayaktoping the kayak to your car. I’ve also thought of a basic prussik for the bow/stern line would work too.


Everyday Knots…
We’ve found that these meet most occasions:

Reef Knot


Truckers hitch

Rolling hitch

All are simple to learn and tie, and the first three are jamproof.



Oh another one…
A double fisherman’s knot can be useful in general situations, like if you wanted to make a loop (or prussik) out of a length of rope or needed to lash two ropes together to make one longer one.

Don’t forget that there are different knots for ropes verses cords…


Quick Release Knot
As a paddler you should know at least one quick release knot. I recommend the Mooring Hitch. You can find an animated version at


More on QR knots
Since I camp a good bit, and use a tarp, I often use a taughtline hitch for guy lines.

Making the last turn and finish “slippery” with a quick release loop is an invaluable trick for getting the knot loose when it has been pulled tight by wind and lubricated by rain.

This trick can be used on two half hitches, sheet bends (use a SB to lenthegn a tarp guy) and other knots.

Thanks to Topher for clueing me into Cliff Jacobsen’s DVD for this and other tips.


swiftwater rescue
The figure-8 family gets used a lot, along with the double fisherman and prussik. Water knot for webbing.

If you wrapped a prusik…
…just one time instead of the typical 3x, that would be a larks head.
…shows any knots you should need. A must, as far as I am concerned, is the bowline and clove hitch. The bowline is great as it will not slip and will not tighten when tied properly. Get a couple of feet of rope and practice while watching TV for a few nights a week until it comes second nature. The clove hitch is a simple one that gets a good grip on circular objects like piping and shouldn’t slip either. One comment, if you are using the cheap yellow stuff, all knots are iffey so use a good quality rope. After you come back from a dusty trip give it a swishing in a bucket of warm soapy water, rinse it and let it dry before storing it…

I haven’t been there lately, but

has some good knot information as well.

Monkey’s fist
The absolutely most useful knot ever.


Half hitch

Square know

Figure 8

Those are probably the most useful knots.

Fisherman’s knot and sheetbend can be useful, too. Bowline on a bight is good for towing your yak around with you as you wade fish. Easy to step in and out of, the double loop is more comfortable for carrying the weight.

Wow, add flatpicks rec to Favorites. Thx

Any knot that will stay tied is a “good knot”. I know how to tie many different knots, but find that if I tie 3 half-hitches my kayak stays without a problem.

Best advice I ever had about knots is this: “If you cannot tie a good knot, tie a lot of knots.”

taut line hitch
is a great knot for adjusting your tent’s rainfly. It’s the rolling hitch on the animated website.

There’s a small book, Knots for Paddlers put out by the ACA that’s very good.