Whether you’re an open water paddler, love to downwind and/or instructor carrying a tow line is a smart idea help a fatigued or injured paddler if playing in rough seas, off shore or with paddlers of of questionable skills.

Paddling is considered so easy by the public, many over do the length of their first paddles or not knowing to check the weather, end up in a wind or heavy surf situation.

No matter how they ended up needing a tow, its great practice for the real thing when you come across a person needing a real world rescue.

Check out these DIY tow ropes ideas to be safer on the water.Over the years, I’ve towed kite surfers in trouble, capsized kayakers, fatigued swimmers, and my students who simply were tired.

What is a Throw Rope vs Tow Rope?

Throw ropes are primarily for whitewater and rivers. They’re thrown from shore to the victim. They can be used on a kayak or SUP deck but tend to be larger.

Tow ropes are more specifically use by sea kayakers and SUPs on non-river or whitewater conditions. They can in a pinch be used as a throw rope.

I use tow manufactured lines by NorthWater and NRS. I prefer the open bag designs that close with velcro. After a tow, I like to throw all the line back in the bag quickly vs feeding the line into a small hole, common in whitewater throw bags.

DIY Throw Ropes (and Tow Rope) Tips – Make your Own..

Throw bags and towlines aren’t cheap and if you’re the DIY type, here’s a few innovative methods for making your own.  Idea that isn’t below is a self retracting line, though saltwater and sand may jam the smooth flowing concept for this.

Good Tow / Throw Line Brands

NRS, Salamander and NorthWater


How to Keep your Rope Coiled Properly

About Rob Casey – Named a pioneer in the SUP industry by Stand Up Journal, Rob is the author of “Stand Up Paddling Flat Water to Surf and Rivers” and “Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips.” Rob owns SUP and Kayak school Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle. He also runs several paddling races.

Salmon Bay Paddle SUP Tips