Throw Rope Question

-- Last Updated: Mar-25-07 9:53 AM EST --

The first moving water sessions are a month away and I have to pull the trigger on a decent throw rope so I have time to practice. I've already discovered that to have a shot at a good throw I need one that has heft and length that helps to straighten out an otherwise lousy throwing arm. The one that I used at a symposium last fall was perfect, except that it isn't available in this country.

I have two candidates in mind that look like they would provide similar attributes to the one that I know worked. One is a tapered bag by Whitewater Resources, the other is a non-tapered long one made by DownStream Resources labeled Lifeline on the bag. Both are available with Spectra or poly rope in lengths 50 - 70/75. DownStream Resources also offers a 60 ft length, and says that it's spectra rope has been reworked to be more pliable and easily gripped than usual spectra core rope.

The arguments by DownStream Resources for their rope are attractive, given that they supply stuff for Swiftwater Rescue. The idea of WW Resource's tapered bag is attractive as well, for free playout.

PS - Had the Inazone 220 in the pool Friday night, and what a diff 5 gallons in volume makes! (compared to Jim's 232) I think getting back to a hand roll on the right is just a couple of sessions away. Thanks again for the planing hull rec's.

Check out NRS

I have their standard 75’ model. It has worked fine for me on the few times I have needed to toss it. For the price it works just fine.

Northwater Rescue

Pretty much the gold standard in Canada. I’ve used these extensively and am well pleased. I own several Northwater products and they are consistently excellent.

I usually carry a spectra one to do double-duty for a z-drag, as well as a poly one (lighter, cheaper) for throwing/towing/lining and such.

do open water yakkers go for a bag that
… is primarily good for overhand throws?

I found the Salamander Little Big Mouth great for overhand throws. Pretty much throws like a softball.

Max Grip/Rescue Source another option…
I’m not familiar with the specific products you mentioned.

I know you are primarily an open water boater, but if you will be adding more river running/whitewater, you might want to consider getting a throw bag with rope that would be strong enough to learn and do mechanical advantage systems to undo pins. Standard polypro usually isn’t strong enough for those uses, although other polypro blends are. I settled on Max Grip rope which has a very nice feel on the hand and resists tangles well. It’s slightly more stiff than spectra which makes it easier to coil for a second throw. Ironically, in this one case, the “better rope” (Max Grip) is actually less expensive than Spectra.

Here’s a link to Rescue Source bags: I like the Deluxe or Pro bags in particular:

Also - you didn’t mention diameter, but 3/8" is much nicer on the hands as well (although if you are on the receiving end of a rope, you’re not going to complain regardless of diameter or “feel”!)

The rope you mentioned above in the 60 ft length sounds like it might be similar to Max Grip. For rescue scenarios, 75 length is recommended, but I find in an actual toss I rarely can deploy a full 75 feet. Like another above, I have a smaller lightweight rope (Salamander wide mouth) that goes with me everywhere and then a more heavy duty rope (Rescue Source Max Grip) along with biners, pulleys and prussiks for rescue scenarios.

Happy shopping!

One thing for sure…

– Last Updated: Mar-26-07 12:50 AM EST –

Whatever brand you get, whatever diameter, whatever length.........

Cheap is not good; longer length is better than shorter, and 3/8" or even 1/2" is better than small diameter.

If you don't practice with your throw bag on a fairly regular basis; it will probably be worthless to anyone who needs it, and dead weight for you to carry.

I take that back; it won't be worthless.
People who haven't practiced with their new throwbag, are a great source of humor.
Fun to watch! If you're not in the river!

Example: Young, female, kayaker, paddling on class 3 river, and doing a good paddling job.Shce eddies out to wait for the paddler behind her to catch up. A whitewater canoer, paddling a C 1 that's new to him, high centers on a boulder in mid stream, flips, and
loses his boat. He ends up on top of the boulder in midstream. Kayaker gets out of her kayak; ties kayak to a rock on shore, and pulls out her throw bag. Alright, I don't need to intervene; she's good to go. I'll watch!

She opens the top of throw bag, grabs the end of
the throw rope with her left hand & the bottom of "throw bag" with her right hand. Bag is now upside down; contents of bag spill on the riverbank at her feet. She attempts her first throw. It goes about 10 feet. Boulder is 45 feet away. I smile. She make a few coils of rope from the approx. 50 feet of rope laying on the ground, and attempts her second throw.
Rope gets tangled in tree she is standing under.
I laugh outloud. Her paddling partner has landed; he gets out of his kayak, and helps her pull the throw rope out of the tree. He take over the throwbag. Stacks about 20 feet of rope back into the bag,and makes his attempt, while "still under the tree". Rope get tangled in tree again. Takes both of them to pull it loose, breaking a tree limb in the process. I am laughing so hard I'm nearly crying. My "buddy", who is "on the rock", is rolling his eyes, and non-verbally pleading with me......."please get the throw bag & get me off this damn rock"! Air temp is about 50 degrees, and about 20 minutes have passed. I ask if I can "borrow" the throw bag they're using & have a try?
They respond, "Sure, I don't think we know how to use it anyway".
No s---! What gave you the first clue? I reply, non-verbally.
I give them a 2 minute, spur of the moment throw bag lesson as I restack the rope in the throw bag, throw the rope, and haul my friend in to the river bank. My friend is smiling, but he is also muttering(you b------d!); he is shaking cause its a little too cool to be wet, and he still has to run down the riverbank to find his boat.

What can I say?
They looked like paddlers, they paddled like paddlers, they're paddling class 3, and they've got a throwbag. You'd think they'd have an idea of what to do with it! Looks can be deceiving.


P.S. That is not the first throw bag I've seen that ended up in a tree. Have also seen lots of water splashed with a throw bag, 10 feet from shore. More than a few throwbags went straight up in the air like skyrockets. Have seen some float off downstream, after the paddler using it make their throw.

Yup - need to practice
I had to hit a spot for something this last fall, a test of sorts. I found that, even having worked at home some, really doing it with anyone watching took me more time than the guys. After two days of practicing throwing the thing at ducks, trees, people and boats to try and hit a spot I finally got distance and aim on two out of three tries. (underhand)

So I need to practice, and I need a bag/rope that gives me some help in going out straight.

Thanks for the rec’s - I hadn’t thought about the thickness of the rope.

Throwbag Practice
When my kids were little they thought “throwbag” was a game.

We’d go down to the local beach before it opened, they’d go out a ways, I’d throw the rope to them and they’d body surf while I pulled them in.

A laundry basket or trash can in the yard makes a good target too.

I carry a small Salamander bag, 50’ of 3/8", in my C1’s. It’s better than nothing. I prefer my Harmony bag, 70’ of 5/8", that goes in my OC’s. It’s suprising how often even 70’ isn’t enough.


After watching a few
SW rescue classes and more than a few games of throw rope catch. Just about anybody’s bag of 70’ or so of good quality rope seems to do just fine. There does not seem to be much difference in performance the bags themselves. Its more the thrower than the “throwee” that makes the difference.

When playing the “victim” in swiftwater rescue class it was much easier to hold on to 3/8" rope than the 1/4" rope some folks were using.

Not many folks could throw a full 70’ with any accuracy, but the length sure comes in handy if you have to rig something more complicated.

That said, choose something that you’ll actually carry and use. Some small folks might have trouble with a full-sized bag, and some WW boat are tight on cargo space. A small bag of thin rope is better than none.

I’ve got an NRS bag and one of these:

Both work fine if I practice with them.

Buy the longer length …

– Last Updated: Mar-27-07 1:09 AM EST –

There are simple solutions for people who can't throw a 70 foot throw bag to full length.

#1 Open the bag, pull a few coils of rope out of the bag, and stack the coils of rope on the ground, out of your way, "not" in front of your feet). Do not let go of the rope in your non-throwing hand when you throw the bag.

#2 Open the bag, and make a few coils of rope in your non-throwing hand. Do not let go of the coils of rope in your non-throwing hand when your throw the bag.

With a little practice you can do either of those in a matter of seconds, without ever letting go of the throw bag once it's open.

If you have a throw bag, and you don't know how to make coils or stack a rope; you need to learn.

At a later date with more practice(remember practice?), you may be able to throw the full 70 feet of rope. If not, you will have extra rope available if it's ever needed. With a shorter rope; it "never" gets any longer, whether you need it or not.

Long ago & far away(Arkansas);
A young couple (out of their element), doing whitewater in a tandem recreational canoe, flipped in a rapid I'd just completed. I threw my throwbag to the girl(middle of river) first.As I pulled her in, I coiled the rope I'd pulled in, onto my non-throwing hand. Without much thought, I threw the coils to the(closer to the shore) guy. He grabbed it, and I pulled both of them in on the same rope.

Several years later I pulled off the same trick; pulling in 2 kids on the same rope after they flipped out of a raft, going over the falls on the Nantahala River in N.C. Great place to practice with a throwbag........