How to Tie a Figure-8 Follow-Through Knot

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Step 1: Tie a Single Figure-8 Knot

First tie a single Figure-8 knot in a loose end of the climbing rope. Photograph © Stewart M. Green

The Figure-8 Follow-Through also called the Flemish Bend and Figure-8 Trace knot is the most important knot to learn as a climber. This is the best knot to tie the rope into your harness since it is the strongest climbing knot. It is also easy to check visually to make sure it is tied correctly since each side is a clone of the other. You can tell at a glance if it is tied correctly. Climbers use this essential knot to tie into the end of the rope because it won’t come untied and only gets tighter when the rope is weighted.

To begin, pick up a loose end of the rope. Tie a single Figure 8 knot between two and three feet from the rope's end.

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Step 2: How to Tie a Figure-8 Follow-Through Knot

After tying the first Figure-8, thread the end of the rope through the harness loop between your leg loops and pass it up through the harness tie-in point on the waist belt (same waist loop that the belay loop is attached to). Snug the Figure-8 against the leg loops.

Consult your harness instructions for the exact tie-in points on the climbing harness.

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Step 3: How to Tie a Figure-8 Follow-Through Knot for Climbing

Next completely retrace the original Figure-8 knot, carefully following the rope strands to make an exact clone of the original knot. Photograph © Stewart M. Green

Retrace the original Figure-8 with the loose end of the climbing rope, carefully following each part of the original knot. Afterward, tighten and dress the knot by neatening the separate parallel strands and making sure they don’t cross over each other.

You should have a leftover tail of about 18 inches for tying a backup knot. If you don’t tie a backup knot, make sure you have a floppy tail of at least 12 inches so the knot will not undo under load.

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Step 4: How to Tie a Figure-8 Follow-Through Knot

Lastly, use the leftover rope tail to tie a Fisherman's Backup Knot. The knot is shown here away from the main knot for illustration purposes. After tying it, snug the backup knot down against the Figure-8. Photograph © Stewart M. Green

After retracing the Figure-8, you should have 15 to 20 inches of rope left. Now you will tie a Fisherman’s Backup knot. This is not a safety knot but a way to keep the original Figure-8 Follow-Through knot tight. The Fisherman’s Backup is the superior backup knot to use because it cinches tight if tied correctly.

First, make sure you have about 18 free inches of tail left after tying the Figure-8. Wrap the tail rope twice around the climbing rope, then pass the free end through the coils. Tighten it against the Figure-8. You should have a three-inch tail left.

Lastly, double-check your entire knot and your partners. Now you’re tied in and ready to climb!