Hitches, Loops, and Bends – Knot Categories and How They Can Help You

The number of knots available can sometimes be overwhelming when you’re first trying to learn how to make them. In addition, trying to keep track of what each one does and when it should be used can take up a lot of brain space. In order to make it a little easier, it may be helpful to learn the knot categories. Knowing each category may help you learn individual knots by providing a method to organize them. Understanding the foundation of each category may also help you remember how to use knots more effectively.

Stopper knots
Stopper knots are used to prevent the end of a rope from sliding through a hole, loop, or eye. A good example of where you may want to use a stopper knot is on a line running through a cleat or fairlead. In cases where line starts to run out and gets to the very end, the stopper knot prevents it from completely coming out of the cleat or fairlead. Another great use for a stopper knot is at the end of a line to prevent it from unraveling. If you don’t have a needle and thread nearby to create a whipping, try a stopper knot instead to temporarily hold the end together. Examples of stopper knots include the Overhand Knot and the Figure 8 Knot.

Bends are used to join two pieces of rope together, for example to make a longer length of rope. Another good example is using a bend to tie a hook leader to a line. Bends can be used on different diameter lines; however the safest knots are formed when the same diameter line is used. Additional examples of bends include the reef Sheet Bend, Carrick Bend, and Fisherman’s Knot.

Binding knots
Binding knots are used to keep an object or a group of objects together. Examples include using a binding to hold together pieces of wood or to fasten a mainsail to the boom. Binding knots can be broken down further into friction knots and knotted end knots velcro products . Friction knots are held together by the friction created between the lines and knotted-end knots are held in place by knotting the ends together. Examples of Binding knots include the Reef Knot (Square Knot) and surgeons knot.

Hitches are temporary knots that are used to secure a rope to an object or to another rope. They are often used to attach to a mooring, secure a line to the boat, or secure lashings. One good example is using a hitch to attach fenders to the railing or an anchor line to the anchor. Hitches are easy to learn and fast to make. They can stand a great deal of strain without slipping. Examples of various hitches include the half hitch, clove hitch, transom knot, and anchor bend.

Loops are knots that are made at the end of a rope by folding it back on itself and knotting it on its own standing part. The loop or eye that is formed can be used to drop over an object or as a sliding end when it’s fastened to another rope. This knot is different than a hitch since the loop part can be made in your hand and doesn’t take on the shape of the object you are attaching it to. Examples of loops include the Bowline, Running Bowline, and Figure 8 Loop.

Knowing which category a knot fall into makes it much easier to identify, learn, and use them. With the knowledge of knot categories you can now begin looking at them as groups instead of hundreds of individual instructions to memorize. The actual list of categories is much larger than listed above. Once you get a handle on knots in the above categories it may be helpful to branch out into other categories including decorative and shortening knots.

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