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How To Tie An Arbor Knot

Despite having “arbor” in its name, the Arbor knot doesn’t have anything to do with trees. The “arbor” in question here actually refers to the cylindrical spindle of a fishing reel. 

The knot is used to attach the fishing line to the “Arbor” or “Spool Center”. The Arbor Knot is really based on a noose knot and, therefore, pulling it tightens it. The Arbor Knot is simple, easily learned, and effective.

How to tie the arbor knot

Learning how to tie the arbor knot will not only give you a solid upgrade to your fishing skills, it’s also a great knot to practice a few other essential knots like the slip knot and the overhand. This knot also has a few around the house applications that we’ll get into after we learn how to tie it. All things considered, the arbor knot is definitely an underrated tie. 

Let’s learn how to tie this classic hitch knot. 

How To Tie The Arbor Knot

As we’ve mentioned, this knot is a fisherman’s best friend. The arbor knot is used to attach the first bit of line to the reel. This knot is strong enough to hold the line in place when reeling in the catch of a lifetime and a quick enough tie to make sure you can get back out there! 

Here’s how it’s done. 

Tips on Tying The Knot

The arbor knot is typically tied around a column or cylinder like a fishing reel, but to make things easier for this example we are going to tie it around a can of soda. This knot is typically done with fishing string, but we’ve also switched that out for some jute rope so we can show the tie in more detail. 

Step 1: Our first step is to loop the rope around our reel or any other type of cylinder. Make sure that your main line has the most of your rope’s length while only a small bit is used on the shorter end. 

How to tie the Arbor Knot Step 1

Step 2: Take your tag end, that’s the shorter length, and wrap it over and under your main line. This will create a second loop similar to the setup for an overhand knot. 

Arbor Knot Step 2

Step 3: Take the tag end and wrap it back over its side of the loop we created in step 1. 

Arbor Knot Step 3

Step 4: Pull the tag end through the loop we created in step 2. This will give us a basic slip knot. 

Arbor Knot Step 4

Step 5: Take the remainder of the tag end and tie a basic overhand knot. This ensures that the rope won’t be going anywhere when we tighten the knot. 

Arbor Knot Step 5

Step 6: Pull the line tight against the reel and you’re all set. Most people trim off the excess tag line to clean up their reel and avoid snags. If you are using a fishing line, you’ll be able to pull yours a lot tighter than in our rope-based example. 

Arbor Knot Step 6

Step 7: Now you’re ready to catch the fish of a lifetime or laso a can of soda, whatever floats your boat. 

Arbor Knot Step 7

Finished Arbor Knot:

Arbor Knot Step 8

For a more in-depth tutorial and additional information on the Arbor knot, check out our video!

Variations On Tying the Knot

There aren’t too many different ways to approach the classic arbor knot. The biggest variation comes down to trimming the excess of the tag line and a few differences when it comes to materials. 

If you’re using an arbor knot on a pulley or in a home decor situation and you’re using jute rope or anything thicker than twine as we did in our example, you might have a hard time getting the arbor knot to be as tight as it needs to be. Keep that in mind if you’re planning on using this knot to support any heavy loads. 

Advantages of The Arbor Knot

The arbor knot is a classic of fishing. 

Eventually in the course of your fishing career, you’re either going to run out of line, want to change lines, or upgrade to a reel that didn’t come pre-wound with line. When those situations come up, the arbor knot is going to be your go-to. 

Disadvantages of the Arbor Knot

As we’ve seen with our example, the arbor knot struggles with thicker lines and ropes. Thankfully, not many people are going to try fishing with quarter-inch jute rope. When used under normal circumstances, the knot is really unbeatable. 

History of the Knot

While the exact invention of the arbor knot isn’t well documented, what we do know is that this knot has popped up alongside fishing communities throughout the world. Depending on where you are in the world, this knot can have a different name. In Canada, this knot is known as the “Canadian Jam Knot.” 

Even though we don’t know who invented this knot, we do know that people who enjoy fishing the world over know how to tie an arbor knot. 

Uses For The Arbor Knot

So, now that you’ve mastered the arbor knot, what can you do with it? 

Survival Situations

Surviving in the wilderness means knowing how to adapt to your circumstances and do what it takes to stay safe and secure until rescue comes. 

Knowing how to improvise with an arbor knot can help you acquire food even if you’ve found yourself without high-end fishing equipment. A shoelace, a sturdy branch, and an arbor knot can quickly become a basic and improvised fishing rod for people facing off against the elements. 


Outside of fishing for survival, you also need this knot for pleasure, sport, and acquiring food. The arbor knot is the foundation of fishing skill. As you move up into more exciting types of fishing and get deeper into the timeless folk tradition, you’ll need this knot to change the line on your reel. 

Around The House

The arbor knot might be best known for fishing, but it also has some other uses that should be mentioned. 

The spindle that you tie your arbor knot around doesn’t have to be a fishing reel. It could be any cylindrical object to which you need to affix a line that won’t be going anywhere. 

The arbor knot is what is known as a “self-tightening” knot. This means that as tension is put on the line, the knot gets tighter. After you tie this knot, the only three things that will break it are the material of the line snapping under too much pressure, the reel itself breaking, or you untying the knot. 

With that kind of reliability you can incorporate this knot for all kinds of at-home uses. If you’re using it to support any weight, make sure to test things about before letting it go on its own. Safety is the first rule of home decor and survival. 

Related Knots

Learn the basic overhand knot to get yourself started.

Want to go deeper into useful fishing knots? Try out the Fisherman’s Knot.

To Tie an arbor Knot:

Thread the line around reel arbor and tie an overhand knot around the line itself.Arbor Knot Step 1
Tie a second overhand knot in the tag end. This second knot keeps line from slipping through the first.Arbor Knot Step 2
Grab on either side of the knots and pull tight. Cut off the excess. Then slide the first overhand knot down the line to snug it around the reel arbor.Arbor Knot Step 3