Why spend the price of a cheap paddle on a
throw bag when you can make a throw bottle?
How to make a cheap paddler's throw bottle
using a half gallon milk bottle and poly rope.
You need 50 feet of 1/4 inch poly rope and
a plastic bottle.
Use a soft half gallon plastic bottle with a
snap on lid, like a milk or apple cider bottle.
Get one with a cute handle. It's important to
get one with a snap on lid as you may not have
time to screw a round when you need to use it.
Also the cute handle will make you friends with
the old fashion throw bags even more envious.
Don't use hard plastic bottles like bleach, etc.
We don't want to bean the swimmer with a hard bottle.
The swimmer may be your spouse and we wouldn't want them
to get sore at you.
Start by punching, drilling, or gnawing a hole in the
bottom of the bottle just smaller then the diameter of
your rope. By the way you may want to seal the ends of
the rope with heat so it will not fray. Poke one end
of the rope up through the hole until you have almost
all of the rope out through the neck of the bottle.
Now tie a knot in the end of the rope so it will not
pass through the hole. We don't need a loop here to
tie it into the boat with because we have the cute
handle on our bottle, remember?
Note: You may want to tie the end of the rope to the
handle or add a reinforcement like a bottle lid here.
In case the swimmer should grab the bottle itself the
rope will not pull through the bottle leaving the
swimmer stuck holding the bottle.
If your hole in the bottom is so large that the rope
slides easily you should use sealant to seal up the
hole else as you fill the bottle with rope it will
just fall through.
Also if the bottle is waterproof:
One: it will float higher if you lose it in the river.
Two: the rope will stay dry and not freeze up on you.
This is a real problem with the old fashion throw bags.
Now punch, drill, or gnaw a hole through the snap off
cap like you did for the bottle bottom.
Now tie a knot about 24" down on the end of the rope
hanging out through the neck of the bottle. Pass the
free end of the rope through the bottom side of the
lid. This knot will pull off the lid when you need it off.
You may want to seal this hole also to make the bottle
Now tie a loop on the length of rope left close to
the top of the lid. This is your rope handle.
Now poke the rope into the bottle and snap on the lid.
Note: You will find it helpful to shake the bottle while
filling it to settle the rope.
There, isn't that neat?
Q: HOW DO I USE THIS THING NOW THAT I HAVE IT?
A: Hold the rope handle in your left hand and the
cute handle in the right hand. Pull with the left
hand until the lid pops off. Throw the bottle to
the swimmer. DON'T LET GO OF THE ROPE IN YOUR LEFT
HAND! Note: If you are left handed practice in
front of a mirror.
Q: WHERE DO I THROW THE BOTTLE INTO THE RIVER?
A: Throw the bottle at the swimmer's head as you
never hit what you throw at you will most
likely throw it just up river (it will float
down to the swimmer) or hopefully across the body.
Don't throw it down current from the swimmer as
it will just float away from the swimmer.
Q: HAVE YOU EVER MADE ONE? DID IT WORK?
A: Good question. Well I went to the store to get a
bottle of cider but I had a senior moment and returned
with a bottle of milk of magnesia. After drinking the
bottle to empty it I have been too busy to actually
Q: HOW DO I STORE THIS THING IN MY BOAT?
A: In an open boat you can use a length of weak cord
like yarn. If you use only one strand it will break easily
if you need it in a hurry. Tie the cord to the cute handle
and to a thwart perhaps.
In a kayak I put mine just behind the seat as the seat tips
forward for easy access. Under the deck cords on the deck
is an option but it may indent the bottle over the long term.
Q: Our club decided to have a "build your throw bottle" session
at the club house. Everyone showed up with a full bottle of
cider. After we set aroung drinking the cider until the
bottles where empty we all spent the remaining time peeing.
What did we do wrong?
A: Next time get non-pasteurized cider. Before leaving home
pour the cider into a half gallon glass jug and cover the
top with a square of clean cloth. Put the glass jug in the
basement for a few weeks then you will have hard cider.
Enjoy! Now take the empty bottles to the club.
Q: What do I use for rope? When I went to the store there
are just to many to chose from!
A: Yes I agree there are two many chooses. There many ropes
that you may consider: polypropylene, polyethylene,
spectra, spectra-core polypropylene, nylon, and polyester.
Neither nylon nor polyester float so they are out.
Spectra(s) are expense and not readily available.
Polyethylene is difficult to work with. So that leaves
I use fifty feet of 1/4" polypropylene from Home Depot.
Their stock no. #### Yellow rope with a black stripe is
the "offical" throw bottle rope color.
There are ropes that are braided without a core that
would most likely work even better. See Ace Hardware
Q: Sometimes when I throw the bottle not all the rope
comes out of bottle and it falls short. What's wrong?
A: There are a number of reasons for this:
One: your arm is to short or your butt is to close to the
ground (i.e. your legs are to short).
Two: You are using old rope with kinks in it or
not the correct type of rope.
Three: The combination of bottle and rope weight is
In all cases try adding about 1/4 cup of dry sand for added
ballast to the bottle. A quick test is adding a little water
to see if that works. In warm weather water would work
(for sealed bottles) but beware of it freezing up the rope
in cold weather.
Q: Harry, after drinking the damn bottle of cider, I hate cider,
I lost the cap. Now what do I do? Tab
A: Tab, go to the store a get a roll of photographic
film, get 35 mm/400 speed. Take the lid of it and use the
lid for your bottle. Then email the film to me. Harry
Please let me know your results and ideas for the throw bottle.
I assume no liability for omissions, errors or the outcome
of any use of the project described herein.
The throw bottle design is released into public domain for
This page updated: Nov. 22, 2004