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"double fisherman" vs. bends to join two lines?


Original Post
Dylan D · · Columbia, MO · Joined May 2011 · Points: 35

The double fisherman, or blood knot, really is an inferior knot to use for this purpose. By definition a knot ties to itself, think bowline or overhand. A bend is used to join two ropes together. This is where rock climbers are embarrassingly short on knot knowledge. Here's the sheet bend:

double sheet bend
Or my favorite, the Carrick Bend, essentially two interlocking bowlines. It is strong, won't roll and most importantly, bends will untie easily when needed.--- Invalid image id: 109657223 ---
carrick bend, low bulk, strong

I'm posing this to the climbing community in part because I don't know how these have been overlooked or if they have been used, perhaps there is a reason climbers don't prefer bends. Perhaps it has more bulk and can get caught up easier since it doesn't lay perfectly flat?? However it is very good at joining lines of different diameters. It's important to understand the uses of knots and their limitations/shortfalls, e.g. bowlines are easy to untie and are incredibly strong, but easy to mess up too; figure 8s are strong, easy to tie, hard to untie. The double fisherman So it may be the same tit for tat but sailors have trusted these bends for hundreds of years, holding loads much larger than climbing. Thoughts?

Glenn Schuler · · Monument, Co. · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 1,320
Dylan Dwyer wrote: This is where rock climbers are embarrassingly short on knot knowledge.
ooohhhh Dylan the knot whisperer from Missouri, please tell us more! We're climbers, not sailors man.
Dylan D · · Columbia, MO · Joined May 2011 · Points: 35

Guideline #1: don't be a jerk

Tyson Anderson · · SLC, UT · Joined May 2007 · Points: 120

Everyone I know uses the EDK. Double fisherman is too bulky and doesn't run flat over the rock. Your carrick bend looks even bulkier.

Mike Cara · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 20

The sheet bend is "supposed" to be used for joining two ropes of unequal diameter. That's from text books out of the fire academy.
My guess (and I am unintelligent) as to why these knots are not commonly used in climbing would be their fail rating. Could the bend or bite add to the weakness off the rope as a knot does? The second factor for not using these knots could be the difficulty in tying. Even my wife can tie the figure 8 and use a double fishermen's as her safety.
I remember a post about a month or so ago there was a chart with each knot and it's failure rating. can anyone post that with any information regarding the knots above?

Jjensen · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 25
NC Rock Climber · · The Oven, AKA Phoenix · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 60

EDK + long tails = good to go. Sometimes if I am feeling crazy, I add a backup.

Dylan D · · Columbia, MO · Joined May 2011 · Points: 35
Mike Caracciolo wrote:The sheet bend is "supposed" to be used for joining two ropes of unequal diameter. That's from text books out of the fire academy. My guess (and I am unintelligent) as to why these knots are not commonly used in climbing would be their fail rating. Could the bend or bite add to the weakness off the rope as a knot does? The second factor for not using these knots could be the difficulty in tying. Even my wife can tie the figure 8 and use a double fishermen's as her safety. I remember a post about a month or so ago there was a chart with each knot and it's failure rating. can anyone post that with any information regarding the knots above?
I think thats a good guess. Looks like BD tested the waterknot, EDK and double fishermans but i'll look around for strength of carrick bend. and ease of teaching is definitely a big factor in this too
Bill Czajkowski · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 30

My guess: EDK is easy to tie and works. Also, not likely to come untied when you don't want it to and can't see the knot anymore. Bends, which are easier to untie, also come untied more easily by themselves. Shit happens on the rock...some comment about stacking the odds in your favor.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

Thoughts?... You used tit, sailors and holding loads much larger than in the same sentence.. That makes me laugh!

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

I generally use double fisher just because it dresses really well (never had issues with it getting stuck) and there is no way to screw it up if you know what you are doing, at least when you look at the finished product imo it is the easiest to tell if done right. (i guess probably the same for most knots you tie all the time but i have seen someone screw up a figure 8 and they tie them dozens of times every week)

Adam Stackhouse · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 13,215

Double fisherman's will never fail. Call me old school

Marc H · · Longmont, CO · Joined May 2007 · Points: 250
Dylan Dwyer wrote:The double fisherman, or blood knot, really is an inferior knot to use for this purpose. By definition a knot ties to itself, think bowline or overhand. A bend is used to join two ropes together. This is where rock climbers are embarrassingly short on knot knowledge. Here's the sheet bend: Or my favorite, the Carrick Bend, essentially two interlocking bowlines. It is strong, won't roll and most importantly, bends will untie easily when needed. I'm posing this to the climbing community in part because I don't know how these have been overlooked or if they have been used, perhaps there is a reason climbers don't prefer bends. Perhaps it has more bulk and can get caught up easier since it doesn't lay perfectly flat?? However it is very good at joining lines of different diameters. It's important to understand the uses of knots and their limitations/shortfalls, e.g. bowlines are easy to untie and are incredibly strong, but easy to mess up too; figure 8s are strong, easy to tie, hard to untie. The double fisherman So it may be the same tit for tat but sailors have trusted these bends for hundreds of years, holding loads much larger than climbing. Thoughts?
Dylan from Missouri coming in

HOT

at the last minute for the troll of the month!
He hit the trifecta, folks!

#1
Reinventing the wheel..
--- Invalid image id: 109657223 ---
I'm really not sure how we're all still alive without this knowledge.

#2
Calling out someone with a very valid point on "Rule #1"

Glenn Schuler wrote: ooohhhh Dylan the knot whisperer from Missouri, please tell us more! We're climbers, not sailors man.
Dylan wrote:Guideline #1: don't be a jerk
How will Glenn respond to both italics and bold RUUUUUUUUULE #1?

#3
The "OS solo of the first flat iron, direct route" profile pic.
after OS soloing the first flat iron, direct route
The chalk on his fingers and pants shows he's not fucking around on a slab. The smile but lack of harness says someone showed him the way down!
Lee Green · · Edmonton, Alberta · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 50
Dylan Dwyer wrote:... sailors have trusted these bends for hundreds of years, holding loads much larger than climbing. Thoughts?
I've been climbing a few years, sailing a few decades. The differences in how climbers and sailors approach knots are entirely legit, because the contexts are so different.

First, sailors are much more into ropework than climbers. There are a gazillion lines on a boat and you're futzing with them all the time. I'll tie more knots in a day of sailing than in a month of climbing. For sailors, it makes sense to know a lot of knots because you'll use them all often enough to really know them well enough to tie them safely. For climbers, it makes a lot more sense to know a few well. Don't get esoteric, even an EDK is plenty strong enough for a rap.

Which is point #2: it doesn't have to be the strongest knot, just a strong enough knot that you know well and can tie reliably. When I moor my sailboat, the knot has to hold for a week of surging, yanking, and flogging. When I'm rapping off, it only has to hold for a few minutes, a single use. I'll rap off an EDK, but no way in hell would I ever tie one in a springline.

Point #3 is related: failure mode. On the water, knots fail; on the rock, people fail. (To tie knots correctly.) It makes sense for sailors to know a lot of knots and choose from a large quiver because the choice of knot matters. On the rock, it makes more sense to know the smallest number of knots that can cover the need and know them very well. It doesn't matter if they're the "best" knot, it only matters that they're good enough and above all, tied correctly.
20 kN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,346

I would keep it simple, and dont overdo it so much. Sure, learning 25 different knots is fun, but it is unnecessary for 99% of climbing. Nearly any climbing situation can be executed with knowledge of the figure eight, prussik, double/ triple fishermans, munter hitch and clove hitch. For those looking to expand a bit, the bowline, EDK, double figure eight, klemheist, butterfly and munter-mule are good additions for recreational climbing. Very few climbing scenarios absolutely need a knot that is not listed above.

At the end of the day it's fun to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of various things, and sometimes it's important to discuss that stuff, but what often matters more is proficiency with what you know, and speed. If I saw some dude on a multipitch joining ropes using some ridiculously complex, strange knot, I would think he was a noob.

This reminds me of a time where I saw some dudes on a wall in Yosemite discussing the safest anchor choice for hauling. One wanted to do the sliding X, the other wanted the alpine equiletee, and the other wanted some other strange anchor I have never seen. By the time they finished discussing the anchor, I was already finished the next pitch. In all their arguing about unnecessary, mundane anchors instead of going with a simple 3-piece overhand, they killed enough time to find themselves -1 pitches. Needless to say, they bailed from going way too slow.

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 420
I've been climbing a few years, sailing a few decades. The differences in how climbers and sailors approach knots are entirely legit, because the contexts are so different.
First, sailors are much more into ropework than climbers. There are a gazillion lines on a boat and you're futzing with them all the time. I'll tie more knots in a day of sailing than in a month of climbing. For sailors, it makes sense to know a lot of knots because you'll use them all often enough to really know them well enough to tie them safely. For climbers, it makes a lot more sense to know a few well. Don't get esoteric, even an EDK is plenty strong enough for a rap.
Which is point #2: it doesn't have to be the strongest knot, just a strong enough knot that you know well and can tie reliably. When I moor my sailboat, the knot has to hold for a week of surging, yanking, and flogging. When I'm rapping off, it only has to hold for a few minutes, a single use. I'll rap off an EDK, but no way in hell would I ever tie one in a springline.
Point #3 is related: failure mode. On the water, knots fail; on the rock, people fail. (To tie knots correctly.) It makes sense for sailors to know a lot of knots and choose from a large quiver because the choice of knot matters. On the rock, it makes more sense to know the smallest number of knots that can cover the need and know them very well. It doesn't matter if they're the "best" knot, it only matters that they're good enough and above all, tied correctly.


Holy damn. So much win here.
Ben B · · saint helens, oregon · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 325

What about the EDK, Dylan?

Ben B · · saint helens, oregon · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 325

It's actually the only knot I use.

The only.

Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490
Dylan Dwyer wrote:This is where rock climbers are embarrassingly short on knot knowledge.
Speak for yourself, I´ve been climbing and involved in sailing and the boat world for 45 years.
Both the single/double sheet bend and Carrick bend need to be stopped to be secure in ropes where the tension varies, exactly as shown in the Carrick bend illustration you show but ommited from the bend you tied. For short term use we use nylon cable ties and long-term such as moorings it´s U-clamps neither of which is exactly suitable for climbing use.
The single or double fishermans is a proven knot for joining two ends if they don´t need to be untied after loading, the overhand or Flemish bend are ideal for abseil ropes depending if you need the rope to roll or not when pulling down.
William Kramer · · Kemmerer, WY · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 815
Mike Caracciolo wrote:The sheet bend is "supposed" to be used for joining two ropes of unequal diameter. That's from text books out of the fire academy.
And the only time I have used this bend in the Fire service was for my FF1 test years ago, and if I remember right, the textbook doesn't even give a good example of where it could actually be used. It's just one of those things we have to know, but never use.
Adam Paashaus · · Greensboro, NC · Joined May 2007 · Points: 791

BITD I used a fisherman's (because I got the warm fuzzys about it holding the best) till I pulled my rope after rapping a slab and saw I had exposed the core from the sheath dragging down the rock. EDK runs flat on the surface.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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