How to Learn to Tie Knots

Updated February 21, 2017

Knot tying is a useful skill for rock climbing, camping, boating, fishing and other recreational activities. Knowing how to tie knots well is also an important part of several types of work, such as farming, tree care and rescue. It's a skill that can even come in handy in the home. A properly selected and tied knot does the job it is designed to do well. The wrong knot or a poorly tied knot can come loose or slip, placing property and even life at risk. To learn to tie knots, knowing the different types of knots and practicing how to tie the knots you want to use are essential.

Learn the characteristics of knot types and their uses. Study the difference between knots, bends, hitches, splices and seizings. For example, a bowline knot ties a loop in the end of a rope that will not come loose under pressure. A cleat hitch, on the other hand, wraps a line around a mooring cleat to hold a boat in place.

Select the category of knots you want to learn to tie. If you plan on learning to fish, for instance, learn the knots that are commonly used in that sport. Understand each knot's specific use.

Select a knot to begin with that is commonly used in the activity you want to learn. Study the specific pattern of how the knot ties and each step required to tie it.

Practice tying the knot with a 6-foot length of woven nylon rope, even if the knot you want to learn will be tied in a different type or smaller line. The larger diameter of the rope allows you to more easily see how the knot ties and practice to get the pattern correct. Practice until you have the pattern memorised.

Practice tying the knot in the actual line you want to use. For example, try tying a hook to monofilament fishing line with a Palomar knot, or wrapping a boat rope around a cleat to form a cleat hitch.

Examine the knot to make sure it is formed properly. Test your knot in a safe situation to verify that it holds well before using it in for its intended purpose.


Knots weaken rope by as much as 50 per cent of the rope's breaking strength. For non-critical loads on rope use a 7-to-1 ratio of the load to the rope strength. For critical or live loads, use a 15-to-1 ratio.


Certain activities involving the use of rope, such as rock climbing or tree care, are inherently dangerous and potentially life threatening. Tying knots at an expert level is essential to proper safety when participating in such activities.

Things You'll Need

  • Woven nylon rope 1/2 inch to 3/8 inch in diameter, 6-foot length
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