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Knot Tying for Beginners: An Illustrated Guide To 6 Essential Knots Everyone Should Know

Knot Tying for Beginners: An Illustrated Guide To 6 Essential Knots Everyone Should Know

For most people, tying knots isn’t really at the top of their list of things to learn. However, knowing how to tie the right knot could make all the difference when you need to secure something. If you haven’t spent time in the military or sailing, you’re likely not savvy about the various types of knots and their uses. 

If you have always wanted to be the fancy knot tying friend, you’re in luck. This is your chance to learn some essential knot-tying knowledge. Here are our top 6 recommended knots that we think everyone should know.

hand tied up in twine

Why You Should Learn How to Tie a Knot

Proper knot tying techniques come in handy in many different settings. If you fish, boat, move furniture, or even craft jewelry, you’ll need these skills. Understanding various knots will give you a more well-equipped arsenal when you need to secure anything. It never feels good to tie something up just to be nervous if your knots will hold. 

The Boy Scouts teach knot tying as a manner of self-discipline and resourcefulness. Additionally, knowing how to tie reliable knots could save your life. 

What Kind of Cord Is Best for Knot Tying?

Paracord or any nylon rope will make it easier for beginners to lock down their newly acquired knot-tying skills. Understanding knots will give you the skill to use various mediums. But starting out with a straightforward, strong and round material like paracord or nylon rope will help you get started. 

Rock climber tying rope
For hikers, rock climbers, fishers, and more, knot tying is an essential skill you must know!

Pro Tip: Having rope on hand for knot tying isn’t the only way to be prepared while in the wild. These are 15 Ways Duct Tape Will Save Your Camping Trip and why you should always pack some duct tape in your pack.

6 Knots You Need to Know

There’s quite a list of different kinds of knots. We’ll help you narrow down your efforts as a beginner by focusing on some of the most common and useful ones first.

Also, it’s difficult to translate textual instructions when learning to tie a new knot, so we’ve provided diagrams of six essential knots you need to know. Take a look!

1. The Square Knot

How to Do It: The Square Knot joins two ends of a line together. To tie a Square Knot, take the end of each line and lay them parallel on a flat surface. Place one line right over left and then left over right to form a very secure and square-looking knot.  

square reef knot instructions
Use a Square Knot to bind objects together…. NOTE: We realize this is drawn as the “granny” version of a square knot and is not the most secure, We are working on revising it. In Step 2 the brown rope should go over the top of the back rope not behind it.

Best For: The Square Knot is a binding knot. It is commonly used in boating, securing bandages in a medical setting, and gardening. If you want a symmetrical knot that leaves you with two ends running parallel, a Square Knot is your best bet. 

2. Taut Line

How to Do It: You can tie a Taut Line or Taut-Line Hitch knot by placing the loose end of the rope through the object you want to secure. Form a loop, and do two passes with the loose rope through the inside of it. Pull it taut or tight. 

Form another loop on the working end of the rope. Pass the loose end through that loop and pull it taut. You can tell that you tied the knot correctly when the loop goes one way and the trailing end of the rope goes the opposite direction. 

taut line hitch diagram
If you enjoy boating, sailing, camping, and more, a Taut-Line Hitch knot can come in handy.

Best For: The Taut-Line Hitch is an adjustable loop used to give more control over the tension on the line. It’s a fancy and more reliable way to tie a slip knot. People commonly use it in boating, sailing, camping, and some gardening operations. 

3. Butterfly Loop

How to Do It: You start in the “bite” (or bend) of your line for this knot. Form a loop in the bite by rotating it two times. This action will create a figure 8 that forms two loops. Take the circle that is the furthest from the base, and flip it below the other loop. 

Now you’ll have a smallish loop at the top and a larger one at the bottom with the main body of the line in the middle. Take the larger circle at the bottom, and fish it through the eye of the smaller one up top. Pull it taut, and your Alpine Butterfly Loop is complete. 

butterfly knot diagram
For avid mountain climbers, knowing how to tie an Alpine Butterfly Loop is a must!

Best For: The Alpine Butterfly Loop is a midline loop excellent for bearing weight. You can pull in any direction, and the loop will remain secure and strong. Mountain climbers use this knot to secure their harness to a safety line. It’s also great for creating a pull handle to move heavy rope or line bundles. You never want to wrap a cord around your hand and pull, as it can cause some painful damage. You can also use the Alpine Butterfly Loop to form a handle. 

4. The Bowline Knot

How to Do It: First, make an overhand loop towards the working end of your rope. Bring the loose end of the rope through the bottom of the loop, around the working end. Then pull it back through the top of the loop. Pull it taut, and you’ve got your knot. 

bowline knot diagram
Used for boating, a Bowline knot is a useful loop knot to be able to make.

Best For: The Bowline is a loop knot primarily used in boating. Of course, it has other uses, but you’ll see it used for fishing and sailing. 

5. The Palomar Knot

How to Do It: Palomar Knots are most commonly used to secure a fishing hook at the end of a line. Grab a quality hook and some strong line to begin. Double over the end of the cord to form a loop at the end. Thread the end of the loop through the eye of the hook, and tie a simple overhand knot. Don’t pull it taut. Then put the hook through the larger looped end of the line. Pull it tight, and you’re done. 

how to tie a palomar knot
If you enjoy fishing, a Palomar Knot is necessary to keep your hook attached to the line.

Best For: The Palomar Knot works best for fishing. If you want to ensure you don’t lose your hooks, you’ll learn to tie a proper Palomar. It’s a simple and small knot that will get you in business quickly. 

6. The Clove Hitch

How to Do It: Pull the rope taut between your hands. Roll the right side of the line away from you to form a loop naturally. Do it again to form two side-by-side loops. Slide the second loop over the top of the first. You can then place the hitch you’ve created over an object and tighten it to secure the line. 

clove hitch tying instruction
Secure a line to an object with a Clove Hitch knot.

Best For: The Clove Hitch is used to secure a line to an object. Most people use it for boating and sailing, but you can tie this knot wherever or whenever you need it. 

Pro Tip: Use your rope tying skills while primitive camping. Unsure about What Does Primitive Camping Mean? We took a closer look to find out.

5 Essential Basic Knots | Knot Tying for Beginners | OSMEtv

Practice Makes Perfect!

Ultimately, knowing how to tie the right knot in any situation is a valuable skill. These are the first knots I learned and are still the most commonly used.

If you want to help in a bind, pick up this skill. It’s not hard to learn the various tying methods, and your knot knowledge could be a matter of safety in the future. Practice makes perfect, so grab some cord and try out these different knots. If the Boy Scouts think it’s important, maybe it is? Give your brain some exercise, and learn some new knots.  

How many of these knots are you able to tie? Tell us in the comments!

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Monday 14th of November 2022

Ref.- Knot Drawing for Beginners (Oops! I meant Not.........sorry I meant Tying - lol)

Figure 2 of the butterfly knot. The main lines need to be on the same side of the larger loop. In this case I assume the back side of the loop. Do I detect a little "granny" going on here? lol

Just for fun try tying this knot as shown in figure 2. I found it mildly interesting.

Kermit Burns

Thursday 21st of April 2022

Sorry, but your diagram for the Square (Reef) Knot is incorrect. What you have illustrated is a "Granny" Knot, which is not a secure knot at all and is practically useless. Here is the correct way to tie a Square Knot:

Mortons on the Move

Thursday 21st of April 2022

Oh my, I cant believe I didn't catch that. Will need to revise, thanks!