Knot of the Week HD: How to Tie a Tape Knot and Fisherman's Knot Variations - ITS Tactical

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August 17, 2015Bends

Knot of the Week HD: How to Tie a Tape Knot and Fisherman’s Knot Variations

Knot of the Week HD: How to Tie a Tape Knot and Fisherman’s Knot Variations


Continuing with the reintroduction of our Knot of the Week series in high-definition, today I’ll be going over the Tape Knot (a.k.a. Water Knot) and a few different variations of the Fisherman’s Knot. This includes the single Fisherman’s Knot, Double Fisherman’s Knot and Triple Fisherman’s Knot.

I consider these knots to be part of a core group of bend-type knots that are important to keep in your knotty toolbox. I also group these in with essential climbing knots, as the Tape Knot and Double/Triple Fisherman’s Knot have applications there. Just like with any knot, tying them is a perishable skill that must be practiced until it becomes second nature.

Tape Knot » Bends

(Strength: 2/Security: 3/Stability: 2/Difficulty: 2) See below for what these ratings mean.

The Tape Knot is a quick and simple knot which only slightly differs from the traditional overhand knot. Commonly tied with tubular webbing, which is often referred to as tape, this webbing is used in climbing to make slings, runners and anchors due to its strength, surface area and ability to lie flat. As shown in the video, Tubular Webbing has a hollow core and should be fused to prevent unraveling.

Ensure the initial overhand knot used to start this knot is tied flat and loose, so the opposite end of the webbing can be traced back through easily. Also make sure that each end measures 12″ in length after tying, so that a backup knot can be tied in each end, leaving a 6″ tail. Always tie backup knots as close to the main knot as possible to act as a stopper should the main knot slip.

Tape Knots are extremely solid when backed up and can also be difficult to untie once loaded. Because of its streamlined shape, the Tape Knot is less likely to get caught if getting pulled over rocks.


  • Making a sling, runner or anchor
  • Joining two ropes

Double Fisherman’s Knot » Bends

(Strength: 5/Security: 5/Stability: 4/Difficulty: 3) See below for what these ratings mean.

While the title and rating here is for the Double Fisherman’s Knot, I’ve also demonstrated the single Fisherman’s Knot and Triple Fisherman’s Knot in the video above. All Fisherman’s Knots are great for small line and can hold well with slippery line like monofilament fishing line, hence their name. As the Fisherman’s Knots increase from single to triple, so decreases the chance they have to potentially slip.

Overall the Fisherman’s Knots are very secure, but with any climbing usage, stay away from the single and stick with the double or triple as the base to create a Prusik Knot. More information on the Prusik Knot is coming to a future KOTW HD.


  • Join two lengths of rope together in a secure bend
  • Join two lengths of slippery line, like monofilament
  • Making an climbing equipment loop for use in holding accessories or forming the base of a Prusik Knot



Each knot will be assigned a rating from 1-5 (1 representing the lowest score) based on the following four properties:

Strength – All knots will weaken the strength of  a rope, however, there are knots that are stronger than others. The scale here will reflect how strong the rope remains with the specified knot.

Security – The security scale refers to how well the knot will stay tied, and resist coming loose under a normal load.

Stability – Stability refers to how easily the knot will come untied under an abnormal load (i.e. the knot being pulled in a direction it was not intended to) A lower score here represents instability.

Difficulty – The lower the number, the easier a knot is to tie.


  • Terry Lorson

    Made a knot station at work awhile back from one of your articles. Common knots for Fire Rescue. Good stuff guys. Love the site.

  • Glen allen

    This is the only time I’ve ever seen anybody recommend backing up a water not.  Can you provide references to data suggesting backup?

    • Glen allen Hi Glen, I was always taught to backup climbing knots if possible. I’ve personally seen Tape/Water Knots slip slightly with webbing and while secure, I just don’t trust them enough not to back them up.
      I’ve never heard of anyone having an issue due to making a knot more secure with a backup. 

      Thanks for your comment,

    • Glen allen

      bryanpblack Glen allen 

      Thanks for the reply Bryan.

      I’ve only used a water/tape knot for webbing, so please restrict my comments to that usage.  In 20+ years of climbing, I’ve never seen a properly tied water knot slip or fail from climbing related loads.  It is important that the knot be properly tensioned and have tails long enough to not pull through if the knot does tighten more(but this is truly a small amount).  Letting a knot tension too much under load(unlikely to happen with climbing related loads on a properly hand tensioned knot)) can cause heat damage to the fibers of the webbing thus weakening it right where it would be most likely to fail – at the knot.  This is important to remember in many knots especially with nylon based ropes/webbing.

      Backing up the knot as you did is counter to what you say is a benefit of a tape knot – that it slides easily over obstacles.  The added knotting increases the likelihood of the knot getting caught.  I also take issue with the implied statement that backing up the tape knot makes it more secure.  A single overhand knot as a backup is not nearly enough to handle a load that causes the tape knot to fail especially since it almost always fails by the webbing breaking within the tape knot itself, breaking between the load and the back up knot.

      If there’s something that I’m overlooking here, please point it out to me.  I want to learn and if there is a technical reason for backing the knot up I’d like to know.  A little googling around trying to find some technical data showed most websites not mentioning a backup and the one the only one that did ( ) was prefaced by “you should always back up any not you use”, no technical data.  This website: had some info on pulling webbing loops to failure that you might find interesting.  

      Again, thank for bringing back KOTW.  I love learning from you guys.

    • requiem

      Glen allen As best I recall, there have been a few cases of the knot failing, most likely in cases where the knot was tied once and used many times (either from being left at a rap station, or kept in a gear bag and re-used without inspection).

      The issue is that webbing doesn’t hold many knots well, and even the water knot will slowly slip under cyclic loading.  Over time the tails are slowly “eaten” by the knot until it comes undone.  I suggest skimming over the testing Tom Moyer did:
      The strand that slips is always the strand on the “outside” of the knot, and there is a similar failure mode where the knot snags against something (such as a spur of rock) that pulls the strand in the wrong direction, thus undoing the knot.  This was reported in a ’94 paper by Pit Schubert as having caused a number of deaths or near-deaths.  (There’s a huge body of research done by the German alpine club that’s not well-known in the States.)

    • Glen allen


      Cool, that’s what I was looking for.

      Even the paper you cite says “Overhand safeties tied on top of a water knot may prevent the failure, but do not guarantee it.” Personally I wouldn’t expect anything to guarantee a knot from failing. Though the results from his test seem to indicate an overhand backup is a good method in cases where you are doing repeated loading, simply checking that length of the tails before using a webbing loop seems to be as effective in preventing knot failure. Even the author concludes with:

      ” I will always check the length of the tails on every
      water knot – and particularly every fixed rappel anchor tied with a water knot – before trusting my life to it. We will
      continue to use water knots in Salt Lake County, and continue to require long tails on this knot as we always have.”

      The interesting point in both those papers is the strength  of a double fishermans knot in the first link and little slippage of a single fishermans knot in the second link.

  • ITS Tactical

    Very cool Terry! Thanks for sharing a photo, what all do you have there? I think I see a Prusik, Double Fisherman’s, Munter Hitch, Double Bowline, Single Bowline, Alpine Butterfly, Tape/Water Knot and what might be a variation of a Clove Hitch? ~ Bryan

  • Terry Lorson

    Thanks! Have a single bowline(right blue on post), and center white is a figure 8 follow through. The rest you named. The clove hitch is loose, the overhand safety was messed with. It also doubles as a cell phone charging/ key station, lol.

  • Sergio Almeida

    Nice video and great explanation, double fisherman’s knot comes in handy. The HD is working great, good to see the quality of your contents going up. Keep these coming.

    • Sergio Almeida Thanks for the great feedback and kind words, Sergio, glad you’re enjoying the KOTW.

  • pgfd18357

    Knowing your knots can be a life saver. I’ve been working with knots most of my life, from boy scouts, army and now the fire service. I use this particular knot ( we call it a water bend) on a 20′ looped webbing in my bunker gear, used a drag rescue device if a crew member would go down. I know, not very tactical. I just thought id share with y’all how I use this knot in my current job field. Keep up the great work ITS!

    • pgfd18357 Thanks for sharing, your support is very much appreciated!


    Nice job byan.

    Tim Pearce

  • Schmidty

    Solid. You should consider doing a piece on the Vica Versa bend. It’s the most secure bend when shaking and jerking is expected and even holds in shock cord. It’s easily the most difficult and complex knot that I tie regularly.

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