Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 07-29-2014   #1
SpeyCatr's Avatar
Coquitlam, BC, Canada
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 267
Throw Bags Questions

I have a few questions concerning throw bags that I would appreciate your input on:

1) Are all throw bags created equal? Are some better than others? Is there a certain type and/or diameter/size of rope that works better that you've found?

2) Is a throw bag with more rope better? I see many throw bags have around 50' of rope, I've seen some that offer 75' of rope. Would it be better to have more rope?

3) Is there a better/quicker/recommended way to reload throw bags? I assume you should always test your ability to throw and then reload throw bags so they unravel properly/reliably when you throw them. I just don't want to have it knot up and stop mid throw, that's all if the time ever comes where it is required...

4) Where do you carry your throw bags? On your person? ON your boat? Where is most useful for you personally? I've heard some suggest it might be a hazard to carry them on your person potentially is the reason I ask..

5) Have you ever used a throw bag successfully? Any stories to relate would be welcomed....Also any tips would be appreciated.

Thanks for your time!

SpeyCatr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-29-2014   #2
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,909
I've been thinking about this in the last day or so. I'm not an expert on throwbags and some folks on here know a lot more but here's my two cents before I turn in...

All throw bags are not created equal. Some have stronger rope than others, you want to make sure the rope floats and is supple static line. I think the bags DRE sells are about 5/8" and rated to about 1000 lbs. Is that right Matty?

Kayakers usually carry smaller diameter line (3/8"?) and about 50' ropes because of the compact size. Us rafters usually have 75' ropes (5/8"?) in bigger bags. The way I learned to stuff a throw rope is to have the rope coming from behind you and running over your shoulder so the empty bag's in front of you. This way you're stuffing the rope into the bag about a foot at a time by pulling it down over your shoulder, making sure the rope is layered in the bottom of the space available in the bag so it plays back out continuously. This is about the fastest way I know and I've never had a bag knot when deploying. If you need to throw again quickly, you can do so without restuffing the line by filling the bag with water to give it enough weight for the throw. 75 feet is really about as far as I can throw a dry throwbag so that's optimal to me.

I feel like the longer the better because not only may the swimmer more than 50' or need the extra time floating by to get the bag securely in hand. If you use a pully for mechanical advantage, you won't have much to work with once a 50' rope's doubled over.

Don't let your first throw be to someone that really needs it. Do dryland practice throwing with a buddy walking across in front of me about 50 feet away so you can get the hang of getting the bag ready, leading the "swimmer" and throwing accurately without consequences if I botched the toss. Every practice throw is followed by practice rope stuffing. Make sure you're securely braced before you throw, especially if you're going to haul in a runaway raft. Be prepared to let go or cut the rope, don't wrap it around your wrist - thnk of the force and momentum of a swiftly moving swimmer or loaded raft. Not only are there plenty of stories of people missing the swimmer or getting pulled into the water when the slack runs out but I've also heard of people throwing the entire bag - oops...

I've had some perfect throws the swimmer caught and I felt like a rockstar and the next time had a spastic-looking useless throw because I was too hasty and forced it. Practice beforehand, and when the time comes, keep cool, make sure you're set up properly and in a good stance ready to brace or hand the rope off to your passenger while you jump back on the oars. Be judicious when deciding whether to throw a rope. The more ropes out and in the water, the more entanglement hazards that can drown someone. I've found myself under a flipped paddle boat with loose rope all over me going through rapids - yikes!

Which reminds me, always get the deployed rope back into the bag ASAP so it's not an entanglement hazard. Practice throwing with your boating partners a few times a season so the rope is also inspected periodically and you can re-stuff it properly from time to time to prevent / eliminate any random knots that may develop as the rope is being jostled in the bag over the season.

I've got a 'biner on a loop at the end of the rope in the bottom of the throwbag in case I throw to someone that needs to clip onto a raft quickly. Ideally a caribiner on the throwbag should be on the outside of the bottom of the bag and in a labeled pocket with a Velcro tab closure so it can be accessed easily and also so it doesn't knock a swimmer's tooth out if one manages that bullseye toss - something to consider for some custom stitching. Maybe someone with a heavy duty sewing machine could sew something like that or create a mesh bag that'll allow the rope to dry easily in the bag? Preferably a retired guy with lots of time on his hands...

Your bowline may become your main rescue line, make sure it's up to the task. I've usually retired old throwbags to the bowline after a few years, now rethinking this practice because...

When my boat was upside-down the other day, my bowline was the workhorse rope because my throw bag was sitting lashed on top of the cooler where it's really handy if the boat's right side up and I'm in the captain's chair. That wan't very helpful there when I was standing on the bottom of my boat and I sure didn't feel like going back under to get it. I'm thinking of strapping my main throwbag to the outside of the frame just behind the oar tower so I can get to it easily from inside or outside the boat, looping a 3' strap around the frame a few times so the strap stays on the boat after it's unfastened, and I can get the throwbag off easily from the bottom of an upside-down raft. I'd like to know where other folks put theirs so they'll be easy to get to when the boat's upside down.

Any thoughts?

I might get a bag to wear on my waist as well since I may not be lucky enough to be boating the kind of great folks I was with recently.


Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
Andy H. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2014   #3
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 8
1. As Andy mentioned all bags are not equal. Most ropes are either polypropylene and have very low tensile strengths, or spectra core that have much greater tensile strengths. Both of my bags are 5/16" in diameter. I have a waist belt bag that is 75' polypro rope for swimmer rescue, and a 90' spectra core rope that stays clipped inside of my raft or my kayak for raft, kayak, canoe, etc...rescues that put much more stress on the rope.

2. The only downfall I see to having more than 50ft of rope in a throwbag is it takes a little longer to stuff the rope back in the bag, but after a rescue situation time is generally not a huge concern because all involved are going to want some time to catch their breath so you should be able to leisurely restuff your bag. In my opinion it is better to have more rope as many rivers are generally more than 50ft wide, and there will be times you find yourself more than 50ft from a swimmer that could benefit from a rope bag.

3. Andy's response pretty well covers the only technique I've used to stuff a rope bag. I throw it over my shoulder and stuff it inside the bag much like I stuff my sleeping bag in a stuff sack, and I have yet to have a knot form utilizing this technique. There is a greater risk of the rope knotting up if you miss the initial throw and try to coil the rope to save the time of restuffing for a follow up throw.

4. As mentioned above I carry a bag around my waist as well as clipped into whatever craft I am in at the time, be it my kayak or a raft. There is definitely an inherent risk with wearing a waist bag; however, that risk is taken into consideration and I have a quick release on the belt buckle that I can pull to free myself from it should it become entangled on an obstacle in the river.

5. I have used throw bags many times successfully to rescue people and remove rafts and kayaks when pinned on rocks or bridges. The key in all of these situations is practice as much as possible. Part of the practicing process is getting to know your gear and how to get in the water as quickly and accurately as possible from it's completely stowed state wherever you decide to stow it while underway. The hardest part is to suppress the emotional excitement of the situation so that your adrenaline does not cause you to rush the situation and affect the accuracy of your throw. Be aware of your footing before you throw so that you avoid being pulled into the river and becoming a swimmer yourself and being in need of rescue. If possible have a buddy back you up and hold your vest when you have swimmers on the line just so you have some extra weight preventing you from being pulled into the river.

When you decide it's time to buy, borrow as many ropes from friends that you can get your hands and see what feels good to you when throwing. There is a surprisingly big difference the weights and shapes of various throw bags. Best of luck in all of your future adventures.
jrplefty is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2014   #4
SYOTR, Tennessee
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 79
Take a Swift water rescue class. They should explain the fine points and have several different ropes for you to try.
ouachita is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2014   #5
Learch's Avatar
Dundee, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 655
Originally Posted by ouachita View Post
Take a Swift water rescue class. They should explain the fine points and have several different ropes for you to try.
I second that. Your questions are spot on Speyfitter. I took a SRT class this year, and I got all of those questions answered and more. I practice my throw regularly, but I admit to missing sometimes. (practice practice practice!)

When I inflatable kayak, I carry a Salamander Golden Retriever waist bag. It comes with a leash with a tether and it has a quick release knob like a rescue vest. It sucks to repack, the opening is small. learning how to coil the rope and throw it coiled is a valuable skill.
In my raft I wear that bag, and then I have a 60' Downstream products bag that stays on my bow, it is not my bowline. It is visible and able to be accessed, so long as the bow isn't underwater.
I have a Cascade throwbag that stays in my rower's compartment (Or close to me when we paddle the raft) that is my favorite bag to toss. I am the most accurate with that bag, it repacks nicely, and my accuracy seems the most reliable.
I keep a bag on my person at all times so I am always prepared, even if I swim a rapid, I can help someone else. There are several schools of thought on rope choice, what to run on the end of your rope, and how to use your rope. The class I took showed several different ways of of doing things, so that I could make educated decisions.
Wishing I was on the river instead of surfing the web...
Learch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2014   #6
Jackson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1966
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 427
Originally Posted by Andy H. View Post
...I feel like the longer the better because not only may the swimmer more than 50' or need the extra time floating by to get the bag securely in hand.
Andy took a lot of time to give you great advice. The only picky thing I would say is that the swimmer should grab the rope not the bag. If they grab only the bag, there may be a bunch of rope that still needs to leave the bag before they can be pulled in.
Just for discussion: I took a class recently where the instructors said not to throw a bag from a boat, only from shore (I had never heard that before and don't know how "accepted" that rule is). The other thing they said was do not throw a rope unless you have a knife accessible -- that one seems right on.
johnovice is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2014   #7
Montrose, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 128
All great information here.
Spend a few minutes prior to each trip explaining how to throw and receive a rope. Try to make eye contact prior to throwing. Yell the persons name when throwing. Make sure they know to grab rope if possible as indicated above. Try to get on your back when being hauled in as holding the rope wrong can but you face down in the water (not fun). Practice all ahead of time whenever possible.
Consider what will mess with a throw bag. On a recent Grand Canyon trip, I witnessed interference with umbrella poles and GoPro poles during throw bag use. I am not saying not to use umbrellas or poles, but you have to consider them and be willing to either pull them down ahead of likely use times, or sacrifice them during an emergency.
QuietHunter is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2014   #8
Helena, Montana
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 95
Practice is a big deal. Usually when someone throws it, it ends up downstream from the intention, which does no good. You always want to aim a little behind where it is intended.
daledevon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2014   #9
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 160
After you take a SWR class you will realize the 50' bag should not be your primary bag. Get a 75' bag and compliment it with a 50' bag. All the guys I kayak with have 75' bags. There is lots of room in the stern, no reason to cheap out on 25' of rope that could be crucial.

Kayaker's usually have 1/4" rope for compact. I carry a 1/4" Spectra 75' rope always. The spectra is likely over kill but for an extra $20 why not.

Also practice throwing that rope often. It's good practice when you are hanging out at a take out to throw it 10 times or even 5. Your buddies will appreciate it some day.
Aroberts is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2014   #10
Thronton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 665
Originally Posted by jrplefty View Post
4. As mentioned above I carry a bag around my waist as well as clipped into whatever craft I am in at the time, be it my kayak or a raft. There is definitely an inherent risk with wearing a waist bag; however, that risk is taken into consideration and I have a quick release on the belt buckle that I can pull to free myself from it should it become entangled on an obstacle in the river.
I do the same. I always have one on my person, because you never know when you are going to be separated from your boat. I learned that the hard way the first time I ended up in the river. Luckily, the throw rope was not needed, but had I needed it to help my fellow boaters (also in the river), I would have been screwed. Took me a while to get back to my boat (I was flushed downstream rather quickly), and had they not swam to shore as I had instructed them to, they may have needed some help that I was not able to provide.

As for the boat itself, I always carry one in the boat near the rowing compartment (may need to re-think exactly where per Andy's point about it being upside down) or on the back somewhere when paddling. Then I also have a bowline that I know I can use in a pinch at the front of the boat as well.

So really, I have three throw bags on a boat at any given time - well, assuming I am still on the boat.... LOL

BoilermakerU is offline   Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Topic Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Throw bags! Max1 Whitewater Kayaking 13 03-10-2014 07:35 PM
LOST CREEK SHOES AT BAILEY - FOUND 2 THROW BAGS CGM Whitewater Kayaking 2 08-17-2010 08:47 AM
Questions about sleeping bags muttster Kayaking | Gear Talk 15 09-13-2009 10:49 PM
Throw bags in the water gh Whitewater Kayaking 9 07-11-2007 09:33 AM
2 lost throw bags & Keen shoe on Poudre - above Mish troy_hiebsch Lost & Found 0 06-14-2007 12:27 AM

» Classified Ads
Kokatat Dry Suit small

posted by peg2016

Kokatat dry suit small.Excellent condition with new...

2014 KVI

posted by junedog

For Sale is a 2014 KVI B14R with the 3 person fishing...

kitchen dry box

posted by Johnny

I am selling a 44" long x 13.5" wide x 16" high aluminum...

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:26 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.