The Only Knot You Need to Know.




About: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.

If you only learn one knot make it the marlin spike hitch. It's simple to tie and leads you right into 4 other great knots. It's much more useful than the common overhand knot which is the same knot you tie your shoe with. If you don't want to tie a knot, check out my invention here.

Here are the 5 knots you can tie with this basic know-how:

1. Marlin Spike Hitch
2. Noose Knot
3. Oysterman's Stopper Knot (trefroil)
4. Bowline
5. Twin Bowline Bend

This is how to tie them from a marlin spike hitch and what you would use them for...

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Step 1: Get a Handle on It.

The Marlin Spike Hitch.

With paracord you can only pull around 80 pounds of tension before it starts to hurt your hand. This is where the marlin spike hitch comes in. It's a great way to put a temporary handle into rope. If you have more then one person pulling you can add several handles to the line. These handles could be sections of pipe, tree branches, or a closed pocket knife.

To form this hitch you form a loop in the free end of the cord. Fold the loop over so that you can pull a bight of the standing end through the loop. Thread your marlin spike through the bight you pulled through and pull both ends tight. Watch the video in the intro for a better demo.

A marlin spike hitch story.

While changing a water heater I attached a hand winch to a ceiling stud. Once the heater was hoisted up off the pedestal I had my wife pull on a rope which was tied around the bottom of the heater. This let me lower the heater to the ground while it was angled away from it's niche. The handle on the rope was a hammer which was marlin spike hitched in.

Step 2: Pull It Together.

The Noose knot.

If the marlin spike hitch spills it turns into a noose knot. This knot will constrict around what it's tied around. It's basically an overhand knot with the standing end threaded through. The only problem is that tension will cause it to unravel. To prevent that you need to add a stopper knot to the free end. Que the oysterman's stopper knot.

A noose knot story.

I wanted to take all our beach gear to the shore in one trip. The cooler, beach chairs, towels, shade structure, sand toys, all of it. I placed a towel on the sand and placed a small rock on each corner. I tied a noose knot around the rock which was covered by the corner of the towel. Kind of like a tootsie pop wrapper. This made an improvised sack. Anything I couldn't carry in my arms went into the sack which I carried on my shoulder.

Step 3: Put a Stop to It.

Oysterman's Stopper Knot.

Once the marlin spike hitch spills you get a noose knot. From there you can easily get a stopper knot. All you have to do is thread the free end through the eye and pull the standing end tight. This gives you a stable trefoil knot. If you look at the first picture the standing end is cut very short. You can see how three even wraps surround the center cord. It increases overall diameter.

An Oysterman's Stopper Knot story.

After moving I had a great big pile of collapsed cardboard boxes. The trash men here in Vegas can be a little feisty so putting all the boxes in the biggest box wasn't a good idea (they once dumped a box out in front of my house, took the box, and left the pile of trash). I smashed an aluminum can and threaded some paracord from a hole in the bottom through the opening. This stopper knot kept the can in place. Every box got threaded with paracord until all the boxes were stacked. When the trash man came he grabbed the paracord handle at the top of the stack and sent them off to recycle.

Step 4: One Good Loop.


According to Wikipedia,

"The bowline is an ancient and simple knot used to form a fixed loop at the end of a rope. It has the virtues of being both easy to tie and untie; most notably, it is easy to untie after being subjected to a load. The bowline is sometimes referred as King of the knots because of its importance. It is one of the four basic maritime knots."

To tie this one, start with the marlin spike hitch. Instead of threading a spike though, thread the free of the line. Let the knot spill when you pull it tight. It will form right into a bowline. Check out the video for a better view.

A Bowline story.

While camping I needed a place for a "trash site". I tied a bowline leaving both protruding ends long enough to tie around a tree. I tied a knot in the corner of a trash bag and slipped that though the bowline. It kept the bag off the ground and made it easy to change out when it was full.

Step 5: Double the Fun.

Twin Bowline Bend.

This type of bowline is not very common but works great. Start out with two marlin spike hitches. Place them on a flat surface so they face the opposite way. Where you would place the spike is where the opposing free ends thread through. When you pull it tight let the both sides spill. This forms the twin bowline bend. Pretty cool right?

A twin bowline bend story.

While working on a project (keep your eyes peeled early summer) I needed a very long section of paracord. The two pieces I had were 100' each. I used this bend to splice them together. It worked great and came apart quick when I was done.

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207 Discussions


1 year ago

I hate to be a drag but the knot described here as a bowline is actually a false bowline. A bowline has the tail in the middle of the loop, not on the outside. I see there's a correction in the video calling it a dutch bowline. Anyway, it's not a bowline. US Navy and merchant boatswain's mate.


1 year ago

I saw this video like two days ago - tried a couple hours back and it worked nicely! Thanks, that's one for life!


1 year ago

Ooh, thanks for the share!! I learned a lot!!


2 years ago

I believe that knots, like "Civics", should be taught in the public schools. One never knows when the need will arise. Many activities require a knowledge of knots. Any kind of boating, fishing, often camping, tying loads to vehicles, building emergency or temporary structures to name a few. Anyone can learn them. Millions of 10-12 year olds learn them as Boy Scouts. I don't know about Girl Scouts. One contributor wrote an instructible about the "taught line" hitch, always one of my favorites. Good instructible, helps satisfy a general need.

2 replies

Reply 1 year ago

I recall the days when these skills were taught in the home; now we pay teachers, what.....?.....$35,000 a year to teach these skills.....?


Reply 2 years ago

To 'spill' a knot is to change its form and rearrange its parts, usually by pulling on specific ends in certain ways.


2 years ago

Thanks for taking the time to post this. I all the years I drove trucks I have so many problems at tying knots I can tie knots but for me to try and teach someone else how to tie a knot forget. Maybe I don't have the patience.


2 years ago

Cool. Thanks for this :)


2 years ago

Great instructions. This really simplifies the knot making process. Thanks


2 years ago

Great! Very clear instructions!


2 years ago

Please remember there are lots of reasons for more than one knot. Part of the reasons are the security of a knot and then there is the ease of undoing the knot and then there is the damage too tight a knot does to the line.

So....the correct knotsfor the tasks.


2 years ago

I love knots! My favorite is the Prussic Hitch... Thanks for a knotty read!

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

I used to carry a piece of paracord tied with a prusik knot in the pocket of my coat, I'm a retired firefighter and spent a lot of years in ladder truck companies which were responsible for high angle rescue and anything involving repelling and ropes. We used the prusic loop when repelling to create a "step" on the rope we were on. If for any reason we had to stay in one place for a while or needed both hands free or needed to change from one rope to another we would take the loop and wrap it around the rope we were hanging on so we could put a foot in the loop and stand on it. If you had two loops you could actually climb a rope by sliding the loops up as you raised your foot, standing on it and sliding the other loop up as you raised that foot. It was slow but it worked and could save your life!


2 years ago

This is just a figure 8 knot with a spike in it. Here is a pic of a figure 8 knot. Which I think everyone should learn. Because it is the most common knot and leaves to all your other knots you are showing here


Good simple summary. Thanks for the post.

I carry around two 12" long cords in my pocket at all times. One is black, the other red. I use them to practice knots when ever I'm waiting for an appointment or if I need to take my mind off the "rat race" to relax and clear my mind. Each day I pick a different knot to practice. Muscle Memory is a big help in knot tying.


2 years ago

To know a minimum of essentials knots it's for me very importantly. Thanks for this instructable.

fw 190D

3 years ago

"The only knot you need to know"......

So your saying the others are knot needed?