The Bowline Knot is the most important and useful knot you can learn! It is sometimes called the queen, or king of knots. Strong, secure, and easy to untie after an extreme load.
This article will explain how to tie a bowline knot, which one to choose for the task, and how to double-check it. Compared to other knots like the clove hitch, alpine butterfly, or a square knot, the standard bowline knot is perfectly suited for heaving loading. While an eyesplice can be a great option for a fixed loop at the end of the rope, you cant untie an eyesplice!
There are several types of bowline knots. The most useful ones are the basic version, the Yosemite finish, the running bowline, and the bowline on a bight. These knots are used in tree care, rock climbing, boating, vehicle recovery, much more. While considered one of the most basic knots, there is no doubt that the bowline is one of the MOST essential knots.
Here, we’ll outline two ways to tie the most basic bowline: the basic method (sometimes referred to as the rabbit hole method), and the more advanced method (what we call the Ninja Bowline).
The Easiest Way to Tie a Bowline Knot Step-by-Step
The easiest way to tie a basic bowline knot is using the rabbit hole mnemonic and the free end of the rope.
Step 1: Hold the rope by the working end in your left hand, with the running end pointing down at the ground. Form a twist/loop in the rope, with the standing line at the back of the twist as shown here. Be careful, if the small loop is the wrong way, with the standing part in front, the knot won't work.
Step 2: Grabbing the end of the rope push the bitter end up through the small loop you created (this is the rabbit jumping out of the hole), go around the standing line, and then back down through the twist (the rabbit runs around the tree and back into the hole).
Step 3 - TDS: Tie, dress, and set the knot, and you are done. You have used the bowline knot to form a secure loop at the end of a line.
It is very important to make sure you have enough tail at the end of your bowline knot to prevent it from becoming untied. You can also use an overhand knot or a Yosemite finish as an effective stopper.
How to Tie the Ninja Bowline
Once you have mastered the basic method, you should learn the advanced way, what we call the Ninja Bowline.
Again, start by holding the rope in your left (or non-dominant hand). With the end of the rope in your right hand, cross the end of the line over the standing part and by rotating your hands over each other you can form both twist (bow) and bring the end of the rope through it (bring the rabbit out of the hole) in one single step. Continue by pulling some additional rope through the twist and around the standing part of the rope, then push it back down through the twist (the rabbit diving back into the hole), and that’s it!
(How to tie a bowline if you are left-handed? Reverse these instructions!)
Adding a Yosemite Finish
Adding a Yosemite finish to the bowline is a great way to back up the knot and make it even more secure.
After you have finished tieing the bowline, make sure the tail of the rope exits on the inside of the resulting loop. Pulling behind the loop, bring it around the front and through the fixed loop. Now you can pull it up through the twist in the knot and follow the standing end up. Once you tighten this all up and tie dress and set it, you will have an incredibly stable, strong knot that definitely won’t come out.
More Knots Videos
There are hundreds more arborist knots you can use. If you want to learn more, check out our video that also teaches how to tie a Blake’s Hitch, Alpine Butterfly, Better Bowline, Running Bowline, and Cow Hitch.