Highwaymans Hitch

The highwaymans hitch is easy to tie and untie because its design leaves a line to pull that quickly allows the hitch to come undone. This knot is Useful for temporary tie-offs with only a moderate load. Similar to the Mooring Hitch, the difference is there are two ropes that circle and hold the railing or ring.

Understanding Knot Basics

Just like knots used to tie line to hooks and lures there is certain terminology useful to review.  There are two ends of the line or rope.  In general one end is attached to the vessel or the dock. The other end, called the working end is used to tie the knot, hitch or bend.  Often the standing end or the end that is secured to the dock, boat or ring,  will be under a load as you pull the boat to the dock or pier.  Unlike with fishing line, when tying dock or mooring knots or hitches, you rarely will want to cut excess rope left on the working end.  A 25 foot rope will become a 12 foot rope quickly if you continually cut off 6-12 inches.  In addition, when cutting rope you will need to devote extra time and attention to prevent the rope from unravelling. 

Tying Highwaymans Hitch

Highwaymans Hitch Make the Hitch - Step One
The first step in making the highwaymans hitch is to form a loop with your working end of rope and pass it under the railing or ring. This hitch or knot will not require excess on the working end so the 10 or so inches left in the original loop will likely be sufficient.

Highwaymans Hitch Step 2

Highwaymans Hitch Step Two
The next step in making this hitch is to make a second loop by grabbing a section of rope away from the working end close to the railing or ring and pulling this section of the rope over the top of the railing or ring, and under then through the original loop formed in step one. Tighten the original loop against this new loop leaving the about a 2 inch exposed new loop.

Step Three

Highwaymans Hitch Step Three of this Hitch
This last step in making this hitch is to form the lock. This is done by forming a loop in the remaining line at the working end of the rope. Pass this working end loop through the new two inch loop formed in the last step. This forms both the lock and the ready release loop. Tighten the loop formed in step two against the loop just formed leaving the working end where you can grasp it. Note that pulling the working end at this point is like pulling a shoe string to untie the shoe string. The following picture shows the finished hitch:
Highwayman's Hitch Finished Hitch

Untie the Hitch

Highwayman's Hitch Pull the Working End
Highwayman's Hitch The Hitch Then Falls Apart

NetKnots.com Online Resource

One of the best on line resources we have found is NetKnots.com.  They cover virtually any and all types of knots, from fishing to boating, to rope knots and more.  The most trusted knots on the net:  we have not found any location that is more inclusive, has any better graphics and their resources are second to none.  Check them out:


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