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How To Tie a Water Knot

The water knot is a simple, versatile knot that is easy to learn. It is widely used to make climbing tools such as anchors and slings as well as netting. It is an excellent way to join two lines together. 

The water knot, also called the grass knot, ring bend, overhand follow through, or tape knot, can bear a lot of weight if constructed properly. It is extremely important to make sure the ends of the knot are long enough to check for slippage. Since the water knot is often used as an anchor for climbing, this can mean the difference between life and death.

How To Tie a Water Knot

To tie a water knot, you will need two separate pieces of twine, string, rope, or other material. 

1. Start With a Single Straight Line

To start, lay the first string out flat. The first part of the knot deals with just this string.

2. Loop The String Around Itself

Loop the string up and over itself. For now, keep it large and loose so you can follow it easily. 

3. Pull The End Of The String Back Through

Pull the end of the string back through the loop. At this point in the process, it will look like a pretzel. This is one of the last steps before you add the second piece of string. 

4. Pull The Loop Tight

Pull both ends of the string to tighten the loop. Make sure not to tighten it too much or you won’t be able to add the second piece of string to complete the knot. 

5. Thread The Second String Through The First

Now you’ll repeat the process with the second piece of string, but facing the opposite way. Instead of looping and tying this string around itself, you will loop it around the first string. 

6. Loop The Second String Back Around, Following The First

Pull the second string around, following the first, then double back toward the entry point. 

7. Thread The Second String Through The Loop

Guide the second string up and around the entire knot. Then thread it through, following the first string, to make the same pretzel shape, but in reverse. 

8. Pull The End Of The String Fully Through

Pull the end of the second string completely through the entire knot so that its end lies parallel with the start of the first string. 

9. Tighten To Complete The Knot

Gently pull on the ends of both strings to tighten the knot. Make sure to tighten it securely so that it does not move. 

Tips On Tying The Water Knot

Make sure that the ends of the knot are three inches long at a minimum on either side. This ensures that you can easily spot and fix any signs of slipping. Similarly, double check that the ends exit from opposite sides of the completed knot. 

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

Variations On The Water Knot

You can make the water knot even more secure by reinforcing the ends with a double overhand knot. It is also related to a figure eight knot, which is better suited to materials that are not flat, such as cord. 

Advantages Of The Water Knot

The water knot is an easy and versatile knot with plenty of potential uses. It is an excellent way to join lines together. It can support a lot of weight and pressure as long as the tails are the proper length. 

Disadvantages Of The Water Knot

Some people think that the water knot is unsafe in its traditional usage of climbing. They claim that it can snag too easily, causing it to pull loose. Although climbing deaths have been cited as evidence of the knot being insecure, they have never been conclusively linked. 

In most cases, you can make up for any weaknesses in the knot by orienting your load from the top rather than the bottom. 

Another disadvantage of the water knot is that it is difficult to untie. 

History Of The Water Knot

The history of the water knot is not widely known. However, some people think that it may have earned its name through original applications in sailing. 

Uses For The Water Knot

Survival Situations

The water knot is an excellent knot for tying flat materials together. This includes leather, tape, and more. For this reason, the water knot has many potential uses in survival situations. 

It is particularly useful for use in rescue operations, since it can be made into a climbing tool like a sling or a handle.  The water knot can also be used to make an anchor to secure yourself to a tree, rock, or other fixture.


Water knots can be used to make a rudimentary net or mesh-like material, which means they have potential uses in fishing. However, there are other knots that are better suited to making fishnets and other implements. 


There are no explicit uses for the water knot in hunting. 


The water knot can be used to build a hammock, since it joins multiple threads together and can support a lot of weight. 

Around The House/Other

The most common use of the water knot is in climbing. Its double reinforcement is ideal for webbing. You may use it in building a sling, a tool used to anchor oneself against rocks while climbing. 

Related Knots

The water knot uses an overhand knot as its base and uses the second string to follow it back through. For this reason, it is often referred to as an overhand follow-through. The water knot is also related to the buntline hitch