The Cleat Hitch

So today is the day you’re going fishin.’  All the gear is on board, you’re behind the console with bow and stern fenders deployed, and bow and stern anchors secured to your boat’s cleats.  Your buddy is hauling the truck and trailer back to the parking lot while you motor over to the dock to tie off and wait for him.  What’s the best knot to use?  The Cleat Hitch.

The Cleat Hitch is the ideal knot to secure a line to a cleat.  It’s a simple knot that if done properly, won’t work itself loose.  And finding your boat drifting in the middle of a busy harbor is not a good thing.

  1. Wrap the line around the base of the cleat one time, making sure the line passes under both horns, then bring the line over the top of the cleat.
  2. Make a Figure 8 knot over the first point of the cleat.
  3. Take a second turn of a Figure 8 knot over the second point of the cleat.
  4. Take a half hitch over the first point of the cleat.  You’ll know that you’ve properly tied the knot if the standing lines run in opposite directions.

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Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at