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How to Attach a Tow Rope to a Pontoon Boat?

Written by J. Harvey / Fact checked by S. Numbers

how to attach a tow rope to a pontoon boat

When it comes to learning how to attach a tow rope to a pontoon boat, you can never compromise safety. And, most of the time, it’s determined by factors such as:

  • The weight capacity of the tow bar
  • Towbar’s design
  • Specific water activity you’ll be doing

These methods of properly attaching tow rope for pontoon boat consider all those factors. Once you read this guide, you won’t have any more doubts about where to attach the towing line on a pontoon boat.

Things to Consider Before Attaching a Tow Rope to a Pontoon Boat


1. Tow bar’s weight capacity

If your pontoon boat’s tow bar or ski pylon has a 500-pound maximum weight rating, then you shouldn’t go over that. You should even anticipate that it’s not the exact capacity (i.e. it’s slightly lower).

It could be because it’s actually weakly fastened to the floor or is actually made of flimsy material. These only underline the importance of the second factor below.

2. Tow bar design

Part of the reason why people encounter issues when they tie a tube to a boat stems from a false sense of security. More often than not, they think, “My pontoon boat has a tow bar, so it’s only logical that I should connect tube to boat to that.”

Thing is, certain tow bars don’t make the cut.

  • The tow bars angled downward, barely connected to the boat’s flooring, and don’t use a lot of leverage when fastened to the boat don’t exactly inspire confidence.
  • I’d be more inclined to tie a tube to a tow bar if the latter has a “wide” stance, which boosts its stability.

But even then, I may still feel a bit iffy about tying it to the bar, considering the water activity. Thus, we come to the third point.

3. Type of water activity

When towing a tube with a pontoon boat, I stick to tying a Y harness to the pontoon’s tube eyes or eyelets or other applicable tie-down points. If they’re not available, I always make it a point to install the eyelets, since a Y harness for pontoon tubing is well worth the extra boost in stability once we’re rolling.

Of course, that’s only if I’m tubing with the kids and the fam in general. If I’m skiing, on the other hand, the tow bar will be sufficient.

At best, you can confirm by contacting the boat’s or the specific tow bar’s manufacturer. If they guarantee that pulling tube with pontoon boat using the bar won’t result in issues, then it’s most likely reliable.

I’d ask them for a demonstration first and get what they say about it in writing (so you won’t lose warranty coverage should the bar bend or break). It’s either that or they should be able to prove to me that they designed a pontoon tow bar for tubing AND that they’ve had such a setup without any hitches for years.

Take note: Most tow bar creators make it clear that their products don’t support pulling inflatables.

Last but not least and before I forget, only use a proper tow rope and not just any rope available in your local Home Depot!

Where Do You Tie the Tow Rope on a Pontoon Boat?


Every time you attach a tow harness for pontoon boats, the first step you should always take is to confirm what the boat manufacturer actually recommends. Otherwise, contact them in person about it.

Either of those inevitably beats any recommendation you get online because, first and foremost, every pontoon boat is different. With that out of the way, these are the boat tow rope attachment setups that I typically find to be the most stable and have given me zero issues consistently:

  • As said above, use a Y-harness on the tube eyes if you’re tubing. If it doesn’t fit the holes, consider shackling the tubes instead, since the rope will likely go through the shackle.

This video should give you a better way to visualize what I’m talking about. Find a rope with three points of attachments, two for the boat and one for the tube.

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  • For skiing, feel free to use the tow bar.

If you haven’t got one yet, take the time to install ski tow bar on pontoon boat. The sturdier, the better, and make sure it mounts on the transom – not the deck!

Ways to Attach a Tow Rope to a Pontoon Boat

Now that you’re aware of all your options, it’s time to start learning how to attach tow harness to boat.

In my search on YouTube, I found a handful of videos that show some of the solid ways to connect a tow rope to a pontoon boat’s tow bar.

This knot is fairly easy to do and can be done in seconds once you get the hang of it. It also ensures the rope won’t come off. Pull the rope through the eyelet on the boat, then around it, then pull the middle of the rope through the eyelet’s middle.

This video is more complete as it shows another way to do it. Use a slip knot on the rope end attaching to the boat, then loop and tie the other end around the ring on the tube.

When I’m tying to the eyelets or certain tie-down points, the following video demonstrates the kind of sturdy knot that has always worked for me in such a setup:

Shackles are pretty straightforward to use, as proven by the first video I shared above. I highly recommend them if you’re still testing the waters when tubing.

Feel free to try each of the methods out or make better modifications over time to add to sturdiness and, in turn, safety.

Can I Pull a Tube Without a Tow Bar?

Yes. You can tie the rope to the stern cleats instead, but make sure the tube is not too heavy for the boat and the cleats are secure.


So, to sum up my proven ways on how to attach a tow rope to a pontoon boat:

  • Tie to the tow bar if you’re skiing.
  • Rely on tube eyes if you’re tubing.
  • Use an actual tow rope. For tubing, go for Y-harnesses or ropes specifically made for tubing.
  • Master a couple of the knots and tying techniques in the videos I shared here.

Take the time to remember these tips and practice them, so you’ll have peace of mind and loads of fun every time you take your vessel and family out for that much-needed adrenaline rush.

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