How to Make a Fishtail Survival Bracelet

By Paul Pinkerton
Publish Date:

Throughout this article, I will be demonstrating how to make a fishtail style survival bracelet. Take your time as it can get a tad confusing at points.

My survival bracelets are all designed so they can be deployed easier and don’t involve melting the ends to the bracelet. That reason alone makes “ending” the bracelet a little harder than most other tutorials where they simply have you melt the end and press it into the bracelet (I hate that!). What’s the point of doing that? When you need to unravel your bracelet, your don’t want to have to rip that thing off.

When following this guide, the numbers in the instructions coincide with the numbers in the diagram.

Step 1: What You’ll Need

What you’ll need:

  • 10 feet of 550 paracord
  • Lighter
  • Side release buckle
  • Scissors
  • Ruler/Tape measure

Step 2: Measuring Your Wrist

1. Wrap a string, cord, or small rope around your wrist. Make sure it is very snug. Not overly tight, but do not make it loose.
2. Take a marker and draw a line across the two crossing cords/strings.
3. I’ve darkened my lines in photoshop to demonstrate what it should look like in this step.
4. Now measure from the first line to the second line.

In this example my wrist measure around 8 inches. So when I go to measure for my bracelet I’m going to add 1 inch to that measurement. This will be further explained in steps to come.

Step 3: Melting the Ends

1. Take your lighter and melt the ends for 3-4 seconds.
2. With your fingers (you may want to wet them or lick them) or a pair of pliers squeeze the melted end to form a nice, thin end.

Step 4: Completing the First Cow Hitch

Throughout this step, you will make a cow hitch on the male part of the Side release buckle. Follow the numbered instructions below which coincide with the numbers in the diagram.

1. Fold your cord in half, so the two ends meet. Place both ends through the cord like shown in the diagram.
2. Place the two ends back through the loop created in step one and pull 1 of the cords through until the knot is tightened.
3. Adjust the cords so one cord is hanging out about 1 inch, and the other one is the rest of the cord like that shown in part 3 of the diagram.


Step 5: Making Your Second Cow Hitch and Making Your First Measurement.

1. Take the long piece of cord you have left and place it through the female part of the buckle like shown in part 1 of the diagram.
2. In part 2 of the diagram you are going to make your first measurement. You will have to “double check” your measurement this exact way after you are done with the second cow hitch. Line your ruler/tape measure up with the middle of the male buckle and adjust your female buckle part, so it lines up with the measurement you got in step one.

Remember to add 1 inch to the measurement you got in step 1. If your wrist was 7 inches, you will want the female part of the buckle in this step to line up with 8 inches on the ruler/tape measure. My wrist was 8 inches in step 1, and in part 2 of this diagram, my measurement goes to 9 inches (it’s hard to see sorry).

3. Now take your loose cord again, and come back up through the female buckle. This is going to seem like your canceling out or pulling the cord back through the buckle.
4. Pull the cord through until you are left with a little loop like shown in part 4 of the diagram.

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