December 14, 2020

Is the Bank Line Cord the Best Cord You’ve Never Heard Of?

by Kevin

The bank line cord is probably the best cord you have never heard of. The bank line cord is a black nylon twine that resembles tennis court netting. It’s incredibly strong, inexpensive, and UV resistant. The bank line cord does almost the same things as a paracord but has a smaller diameter, so it’s a lot more lightweight and takes up less space.

The diameter and strength of the bank line vary (paracord is rated for about 550 pounds). Bank line cord is commonly used by survivalists and bushcrafters around the house, campsite, short, or garage.

Does bank line, however, perform better than paracord? The answer is yes, in certain scenarios. However, I would use it only for simple tasks around the house or bushcraft.

The purpose of this article is to tell you everything you need to know about bank line cords, including what they are made of and where to buy them. In order to understand the bank line’s overall strength, we need to begin with its structural composition.


Table of Contents

What Is a Bank Line Cord?

Bank line cord is a black nylon twine, like the tennis court twine. It’s incredibly robust, affordable, and UV resistant. Besides, it functions just as well as a paracord, though it has a smaller diameter, hence lighter and using up less space. 

The name “bank” comes from trotline fishing, for catfish, or other critters, where you require throwing out a solid mainline with numerous hooks (baited) and coming back sometime later to check on it. 

Typically, different bank lines have different diameters and solidity:

  • The #12 bank line offers a breaking force of approximately 100 lbs and is rather slender and lighter than the #36 version. 
  • The #36 bank line comes with a breaking force of 320 lbs.

The bank line cordage is extremely popular among survivalists, though it would also come in handy at home, campsite, workshop, and garage. 

What is the Origin of Blank Line Cord?

The term bank line comes from trotline fishing. This fishing technique is popularly utilized for catfish, whereby you set an extended cord from one river bank to the other.

Then, you’ll hook it, occasionally bait along this line, and strategically position a weight at the center. This prevents the center from sinking.  

For the fishing line to operate appropriately, it has to be solid enough to handle the water currents, resistant fish, and wet surroundings. Again, the line has to be easy to tie into knots. All these features are excellent for outdoor use, including camping

What’s a Bank Line Cordage Made Of?

In a nutshell, it’s black nylon cordage that mimics the looks of the netting you’d find on any tennis court. So, what makes it stand out from others? It offers much better resistance to UV rays. Plus, it has higher strength and durability and is readily available in the market.

One crucial fact to remember about the bank line is that it’s tarred. Ideally, it features a tar coating to enrich its knot holding ability. However, the tar layer gives a slightly sticky feel to the looks.

Anyone can easily recognize the odor associated with tar—however, the unusual smell vanes after a while. You may get accustomed to it soon. In case you feel uncomfortable with the tar smell, just leave the bank line in your outdoor area in the wind for a couple of weeks. The wind should dry some tar. Additionally, the undesirable petroleum odor will dissipate to a great extent.

Bank Line vs. Paracord 

The plain answer would be yes. However, that’s true in certain situations only. I’d recommend its use for simple and lightweight tasks at home or in bushcraft.

However, should you stop using paracord and switch to a bank line cord? Both of these cords have their benefits and will come in handy in different circumstances. Hence, here we compare these two cords and see what each has to offer.

Features#36 Bank LineParacord 
Tensile strength 320 pounds 550 pounds 
Diameter2.1mm4mm
Length per 0.25 lbs42M17M
Water absorption Water-resistantNot water-resistant thus absorbs it and becomes weak
Price per foot $0.05$0.12
Knot suitabilityGreat for knotsDecent for knots 
StretchLess stretch More stretch
UV resistance Decent Average

From the information on this comparison table, it is obvious that the bank line is more affordable, weather-resistant, thinner, lighter, and stretches marginally. However, the paracord is more tensile, expensive, stretches more, and is less weather resistant. 

With these features, you can see that the bank line and paracord will come in handy in different surroundings. Therefore, let’s take a look at how they’re used.

What are the Paracord Uses Over Bank Line?

There are three main reasons why you should always have a paracord in your kit, as opposed to a bank line. First, paracord is usually more suitable for making a reliable ridge line when establishing a tarp shelter. Used together with the trucker’s hitch, this cord creates an ideally taut ridgeline.

Moreover, because the paracord is somewhat thicker, it will create an excellent base for making prusik knots. Second, paracord features various components that come in handy in different circumstances. Any paracord length has over six nylon strands.

Each strand could be helpful when you want to build lashings or nets for fishing lines or repair your camping gear. When you remove the strands, the outer casing turns flat and works excellently to secure your gear on the gear belt. 

Finally, paracord is a better option in terms of visibility. Thanks to its wider profile, it is easier to see. On top of that, it is available in a wide range of colors like bright green, orange, blue, etc.

This simply means fewer chances to lose it if it falls. The paracord is more suitable for making tie-offs and guy lines for these three reasons. 

Bank Line Cord Main Uses

What are the Bank Line Cord Uses Over Paracord? 

On the other hand, bank line cords make more reliable general-use cordage for outside utilization. Moreover, you can bring more bank line cords per weight, and it takes up significantly less space in your bag. Its thin profile makes it easy to sew using it to repair your gear. 

You can use the inner strands if you buy the bank line twisted cord instead of the braided version since their much lighter sewing thread. You can use a bank line cordage to tie almost all extra points, such as prusik knots on hanging loops and paracord ridgeline, and you can also utilize it to create a standard ax handle shield.

Moreover, the trivial tackiness due to the tarred cord translates to the bank line cord being more reliable when taking and holding knots. Even though both the paracord and bank line come in handy when fishing, the bank line cord is more intently built for it.

So, if you’re going fishing and want to fish through nets or lines, the bank line cord is the way to go. The slim diameter and stiffness make it the better option for making snares and traps. You can also read my article on climbing cordelette where I share tips you need to know, especially if you are a beginner climber.

Twisted vs. Braided Bank Line Cordages

The difference between twisted vs. braided bank line cordages is that thanks to how every strand weaves around the rest, the braided bank line is somewhat robust. So, this version is not likely to wear on the ends. You’ll never have to burn the ends with a braided bank line. 

When it comes to twisted bank lines, you can unwind the strands effortlessly to create smaller fibers that come in handy for different fishing or camping tasks. However, unlike the braided bank line, you will have to burn the ends every time the ends fray. 

Why is the Bank Line Tarred?

The bank line usually is tarred to boost its ability to be weather resistant. 

Can You Sew with a Bank Line Cord?

Yes, you can sew with a bank line cord. Bank line is a nylon twine that will conveniently hold knots thanks to its relative tackiness. Besides, it is affordable, abrasion-resistant, sunlight resistant, and solid. You can also remove the inner strands and use them to sew your gear and so much more. 

Here is a list of the other ways you can use the bank line cord.

  • Loom knitting 
  • Binding
  • Litter netting
  • Hand sewing 
  • Bushcraft
  • Rope whipping 
  • Gardening 
  • Securing tarps 
  • Tent guy lines 
  • Snares 
  • Weaving 
  • Sports netting 
  • Survival beads 
  • Winding wind chimes 

What are the Key Uses and Benefits of the Bank Line Cord?

First of all, the bank line takes up less space in a bag. The reason is that it has a smaller diameter compared to paracord or other offerings out there. However, you enjoy the same tensile strength as alternatives. I love that space efficiency bundled with strength.

Bank line is hugely popular among bushcraft enthusiasts or survivalists because of its strength and flexibility. You may use it to lash food bags, tents, and gear racks. Creating garden shelters is another possibility.

If you don’t go over its tensile strength and flexibility, the bank line stands useful for numerous applications. You could anchor heavy objects in place, tie knots with them, or simply use it for fishing.

Initially, the bank line was designed for trotline finishing. It’s the art of setting up a long-distance cord from one bank of a river to another. That way, the product got its name. This particular kind of fishing practice works for catching catfish. Even today, people employ this technique to gain better catch results.

What are the Types of Bank Line Cords?

Numerous sizes exist in the market. However, we’ll check the two most popular types. The #36 bank line is ideal for its strength. On the flip side, the #12 bank line, a thinner model, works well for lighter applications. The #12 bank line variant can bear about 100 pounds, whereas the #36 bank line can withstand 320 pounds.

When it boils down to type, you may choose between braided or twisted bank lines. Anyone can notice the differences between the two types at first glance. However, I can say for sure that both types are better.

None of them is significantly better than its counterpart. As far as my preferences go, I choose the braided option because I think it’s much more potent. The strength is attributed to the fiber weaves and the way they wrap with one another.

Moreover, the braided bank line doesn’t easily fray at the ends. So, you don’t need to burn it to avoid fraying. The twisted bank line comes with its own perks. If you want to obtain smaller strands, you could easily unravel the individual strands. However, the ends will fray. So, prepare in accordance with this issue.

Where to Buy a Top Quality Bank Line Cords?

In case you intend to buy the best one, make sure you check reputed manufacturers only. As mentioned earlier, this isn’t an expensive product. So, the question of cutting corners shouldn’t arise.

Ironclad Supply (twisted) and Catahoula (braided) are popular brands you may check. Both vendors offer their products through Amazon. Both products carry an exceptional quality. If used properly, they won’t let you down. Let’s review each alternative closely, shall we?

Ironclad Bank Line (tarred)

Ironclad Supply Tarred Bank Line – Heavy Duty 100% Nylon Twine for Fishing, Hunting, Camping, Bushcraft – Odorless, Mess-Free Tar Coating (#12 Braided, 1/4 LB)
463 Reviews
Ironclad Supply Tarred Bank Line – Heavy Duty 100% Nylon Twine for Fishing, Hunting, Camping, Bushcraft – Odorless, Mess-Free Tar Coating (#12 Braided, 1/4 LB)
  • #12 1/4 LB BRAIDED BANK LINE: 400FT (133 YDS) of 100lb Tensile Strength Type AA utility cordage, perfect for fishing, hunting, camping and bushcraft.
  • PROTECTED FROM THE ELEMENTS: Ironclad Supply Bank Line is made from 100% Nylon Twine that is coated in a dense layer of tar, making it resistant to Rot, Abrasion, oil, gasoline, UV light, moisture and even most chemicals.
  • STICKS TO ITSELF, NOT YOUR HANDS: The unique tar treatment allows the cordage to easily grip and has excellent knotting without leaving a messy, sticky residue on your hands or equipment.

Last update on 2022-09-30 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Made by Ironclad Supply, Jonesville (since 1989), this tarred bank line makes an ideal choice for those looking for the best-twisted bank line.

Promoted as a superior alternative to paracord, the product offers better flexibility. Plus, you may use it for many applications, including net making, decoy lines, and trotline.

The nylon twine stands perfect for camping, fishing, hunting, or bushcraft. The product includes a dense coating of tar. It’s this coating that makes the twine highly resistant to rot, abrasion, moisture, and UV light.

The coating also ensures that it sticks to itself well when tying knots. However, the tar doesn’t stick to your equipment or hands.

With a weight of 1/4 lb, the #12 twisted bank line carries a length of 400ft (133 yds). The tensile strength is 100lb, and the diameter is 0.085 inches.

Catahoula Braided and Tarred Nylon Twine

Catahoula Tarred, Braided, Nylon Twine, 36 (1/4 lb)
1,196 Reviews
Catahoula Tarred, Braided, Nylon Twine, 36 (1/4 lb)
  • Size: #36. Quantity: 1/4lb (4oz). Spool Length: approx. 118ft. Tensile Strength: approx. 303lbs. Line Diameter: 0.085in.
  • Twine for use with trot lines, jug lines, seines, gill nets, snares, bushcraft, camping, and garden work.
  • Netcoat tar treatment protects the nylon cord from exposure to the elements; great for outdoor use. Strong resistance to moisture, rot, and UV light. Tar treatment also helps grip and hold knots well.

Last update on 2022-09-30 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Catahoula braided and tarred nylon twine is one of the best products. Also, it happens to be one of the best-rated nylon twines you can find today. Made in the USA, it encompasses a braided design rather than the twisted one.

So, what does that mean? A braided bank cord won’t quickly unravel like the twisted one. Plus, it features a sturdier feel on your hand.

Catahoula applies a special tar treatment, which allows the twine a better grip when tying knots. Even though the tar treatment isn’t sticky, it’s easily noticeable.

Plus, the tar doesn’t leave its marks on other items no matter which activities you’re engaged in. In my opinion, this feature is a sign of good quality.

The approximate weight of the #36 variation is around 1/4 pound. Users can choose from different options, starting from the #12 variant to the #96 variant.

Final thoughts on What is a Bank Line Cords and When and How to Use Bank Lines

The above data highlights the fact that the tarred bank line has less stretch, is lighter, cheaper, lighter, and performs well with knots compared to paracord. The only downside is that it’s weaker overall. Despite this fact, the 320 pounds of tensile strength should be sufficient for most outdoor activities.

In case you’re out on the fence and wish to know which option will work better for your situation, you’ve enough information at your disposal. That should help you make an educated choice.

Still, it all depends on the type of activities you indulge in and the applications you use for those activities. As far as I’m concerned, the bank line meets and surpasses all of my expectations.

The rankings on rappellingequipment.com are curated to save you time by aggregating the best reviewed products from the most reputable companies. We may receive a commission if you buy something using a link on this page.

About the author 

Kevin

Kevin loves bouldering. Mainly because he can practice it alone without considering other people. Although he rediscovered this hobby in the last three years, the boulders turned out to be his most visited landmarks.

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