My wife and I have discovered our love for canoeing and have been having a great time on the water for a couple of years now. One of the things that has come to my attention is our lack of knowledge in regards to tying knots in general, and what would be the best knot for the given job (canoe camping, etc.). I did go ahead and get a couple of basic knot tying manuals but thought it would be interesting to hear from others as to their favorites.

Knot Cards
You might want to check out these handy reference cards:




Bowline, truckers hitch, taut line hitch, prussick knot are all useful knots to know. Here’s an animated page on tying knots


Just Add…
…a reef knot and a rolling half-hitch to the above, and that should do anythying you need to do.

Master 1 knot at a time
and find uses for each one. Tying the knot for a useful application will help more than just learning to tie the knot.

Learning all the useful knots at one time can be confusing.

Paddlin’ on


Only two …
The square knot and the bowline are really all you need to learn.

There may be other, more “elegant” solutions, but I’ve found these two extremely reliable knots have served me well in 40+ years of sailing and paddling.

Also, while half-hitches may sometimes be the only solution, I’ve learned to never, ever trust them and now rely exclusively on webbed straps for tiedowns.

Add the Figure eight to the list
simple to tie, can be used for a stopper, or a quick easy loop. It will always hold. And it can ALWAYS be untied.

Learning a new knot is always fun.

good advice
Those cards look good. I have a knot book that categorizes each into specific uses, which is nice. These guys who say you only need a few are absolutely right; beyond that it can just be fun and handy to learn a few more, but that’s up to you (I enjoy it).

no! square knots suck
The square knot is an essentially useless knot.

I get the most use out of the same four knots:

bowline (tie off to a fixed point), sheet bend (connect two lines), trucker’s hitch (cinch a line tight), and a double overhand knot (secure a free standing end).

But suppose I’d use a clove hitch if I ever had the use for it (tying up my horse, etc.)

paddle tarp pole
using a clove hitch to tie your paddle into a tarp line works well. agreed on the square knot. worthless as tits on a boar.


The basic essentials of Knots
The basic essentials of knots for the outdoors by Cliff Jacobson is a very good little book in which Cliff has *'d his ten favorite knots/hitches.

These are the anchor bend, bowline, butterfly noose, clove hitch, one half/two half hitches, monofilament fishing knot, power cinch, quick release loop, sheet bend, and timber hitch.

those are four good knots to know
and don’t forget the figure 8

I have an old tow belt of your design that I picked up at a garage sale. Can I ask, what is the knot you used to tie off the line inside the tow belt? I tried to reverse engineer it, but the CIA destroyed my videotape.

One more for the list
Jim’s Double Secret Secure Bowline. Eliminates the need for half-hitches on the free end.


If you learn nothing else: bowline

– Last Updated: Jan-08-08 3:21 PM EST –

Rabbit comes out of the hole, behind the tree, back down the hole.

Seriously, while other bends or knots may do a better job, you can use this for "almost" any application where you don't know the prefered knot or bend to use.

Just kidding, Brent. :wink:

Knot cards are a really handy way to remember knots until you can do them in your sleep. When I was a sea scout new scouts carried them a lot, but our ship had a tradition that you had to burn yours when you earned your Ordinary rank.

do consider …
You say: The square knot is an essentially useless knot.

I say: Not when properly used, as in lashing and reefing. Otherwise, you’re looking at a ‘knife’ knot.

You say:

I get the most use out of the same four knots:

bowline (tie off to a fixed point),

I say: yep, but it has many more possibilities

you say: sheet bend (connect two lines)

I say: two bowlines accomplish the same task and do not require constant stress on the line to remain securely tied

you say: trucker’s hitch (cinch a line tight),

I say: pull out your wallet and buy proper tiedowns

you say: and a double overhand knot (secure a free standing end).

I say: I don’t really consider twisting and looping the end of a rope to be a knot, but this one and the figure-eight are technically knots, so one or the other would come in handy.

But suppose I’d use a clove hitch if I ever had the use for it (tying up my horse, etc.)

Ahh, but in the Double Secret Bowline
the rabbit then goes around the root, out the hole, and up the tree.

Makes it very secure.


Double/triple fisherman’s
To make all those handy rope loops.

8 on a bight
would be my guess.