Breaking the Code: A Complete Guide to Knots

Knots are the essential part of all types of activities, indoor and outdoor. Some of the most common activities that knots are useful in include boating and climbing. They can also be useful when speaking in terms of scouting. Regardless of the activity, anyone who is good at boating or climbing can choose the best knot to use at a moment’s notice. Some knots are better to use for certain activities in comparison to others. For instance, there are secure knots, knots used to connect two rope ends together, knots that are ideal for movement and knots that come apart easily for quick release. Depending on the reason you need the knot, it is essential that you understand the purpose behind each one, as well as how to tie them. Additionally, if used for boating, it is helpful to make any future owners of your boat aware of the knots that are best used.

Alpine Butterfly

This is most commonly used as a climbing knot. Although that is the case, it can also be used as an anchor knot. It can be loaded on each end, as well as through the loop, for a total of three ways. Out of all knots, it is considered one of the most reliable and strongest knots.

Anchor Bend

This knot is also referred to as the fisherman’s bend. When connecting an anchor line and an anchor together, it is the best knot to use. It is also used for warping.


This versatile knot is ideal to use for sailing. It is quick and easy, and is most commonly used to attach the jib’s clew and jib sheets together.

Buntline Hitch

This type of knot is used to connect a rope and an object together. It was initially used to secure the foot of sails and buntlines together. It is an old sailing knot.

Carrick Bend

 This is a knot that is comparable to the sheet bend, and is also used when connecting two ropes. The difference between those two types of knots is that this one is stronger, and will not jam when it gets wet. This factoid alone makes it the better knot option for boating. It is also a simple knot to tie.

Clove Hitch

This is a standard knot that is usually the base of other knots. Although it is useful and common, it is not the most secure of knots. Because of this reason, it is not recommended for boating.

Constrictor Hitch

This type of knot, as the name suggests, is used to tightly secure a rope to an object. It is used in boating, and the only way that it can easily be removed is if the knot is made so that it slips.

Heaving Line Knot

This type of knot was designed with a heavy end, which makes it ideal for heaving (or throwing) when you need to move a rope to another location, such as another ship.

Highwayman's Hitch

This knot was designed to untie extremely easily. It is a quick-release knot that is said to have been invented as a quick getaway knot.

Kleimheist Knot

The Kleimheist knot is very similar to that of the Prusik. The main difference is the fact that it is easier to remove. Simply loosen the bottom loop to release the knot, or add more loops as a way to increase the friction. The name derives from its use by the inventor, Dr. Karl Prusik, when ascending while mountaineering.

Overhand Knot

This type of knot is very common, and is usually used as a stopper knot. There is also a double overhand knot that simply contains multiple overhand knots.

Prusik Knot

This type of knot was designed for climbing masts. The design of this knot allows you to slide the rope unless a large amount of weight is applied. When heavier weight is applied, the knot tightens to increase security.

Rolling Hitch

This type of knot is used when you are attempting to attach rods and rope together. It is categorized as a friction hitch, and was made for the use of movement in the lengthwise direction. It is mostly used in sailing to clear a jammed block or winch. 

Sheet Bend

This type of knot is used when tying together two rope ends. It is extremely popular in boating.

Spanish Bowline

This type of knot is used for towing. It is not the most common, but is used so that the two ropes are secured around the legs.