How to Put Synthetic Rope on Winch: A Step-by-Step Guide

Synthetic ropes have become increasingly popular among off-road enthusiasts and industrial workers alike, thanks to their strength, durability, and lightweight. Unlike steel cables, synthetic ropes are safer to handle, easier to store, and less prone to kinking, corrosion, and fatigue. However, to enjoy the benefits of synthetic ropes, you need to know how to install them properly on your winch.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps involved in How to Put Synthetic Rope on Winch, from removing the old rope to testing the winch and maintaining the new rope.

Why use Synthetic Rope?

As mentioned earlier, the synthetic rope has many advantages over steel cable. One of the biggest advantages is its strength. Synthetic rope has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than steel cable, which means that it can handle more weight with less rope. This makes it ideal for winching heavy loads.

Synthetic rope is also more durable than steel cable. It does not kink or rust, which means that it will last longer than steel cable. Synthetic rope is also easier to handle than steel cable because it is lighter and more flexible. This makes it easier to spool and unspool the rope.

How to Put Synthetic Rope on Winch: A Step-by-Step Guide

Tools Required

To install synthetic rope on a winch, you will need the following tools:

  • Gloves
  • Wrenches or pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Tape measure
  • Marker
  • Synthetic rope
  • Winch drum
  • Hawse fairlead

Step 1: Removing the Old Rope

Before you can install the new synthetic rope, you need to remove the old rope from the winch drum. To do this, you’ll need a pair of gloves, pliers, a screwdriver, and a winch cable tensioner. Start by loosening the cable tensioner to release the tension on the old rope. Then, use the pliers to remove the retaining clip and the screwdriver to loosen the set screw that holds the old rope in place. Carefully unwind the old rope from the winch drum and remove it from the winch.

Step 2: Measuring the New Rope

To ensure a proper fit and performance, you need to measure the length and diameter of the new synthetic rope before installing it on the winch. You’ll also need to select the right type of rope for your winch, based on the weight capacity, the application, and the environment. For example, you may choose a synthetic rope with a higher strength rating than your winch to have a safety margin in case of overload. You may also select a rope with a protective coating to resist abrasion, UV rays, and chemicals.

Step 3: Attaching the Rope to the Winch Drum

Once you’ve selected the new synthetic rope, you can start attaching it to the winch drum. To do this, you’ll need to secure the rope with a knot or a splice, depending on the type of rope and winch. Some common knots used for synthetic ropes include the bowline, the double fisherman’s knot, and the figure-eight knot. Some common splices used for synthetic ropes include the eye splice, the thimble splice, and the end-to-end splice. Make sure the knot or splice is tight, secure, and centered on the winch drum.

Step 4: Installing the Rope Guard

A rope guard, also known as a fairlead or a winch bumper, is a device that protects the rope from abrasion and chafing during winching. To install the rope guard, you’ll need to remove the old guard if applicable, and align the new guard with the winch drum. Then, you’ll need to secure the guard with bolts, nuts, and washers, and adjust the tension of the rope to fit snugly inside the guard. Make sure the rope guard is aligned with the hook and the winch drum to prevent jamming and wear.

Step 5: Installing the Hook

The hook is the device that connects the rope to the load or the anchor point. To install the hook, you’ll need to insert the end of the rope through the hook’s eye and secure it with a knot or a thimble. Some hooks come with a latch or a clevis pin that locks the hook to the rope. Make sure the hook is oriented correctly and tightened securely to prevent slippage and detachment during winching.

Step 6: Tensioning the Rope

Once you’ve installed the synthetic rope, the rope guard, and the hook, you need to tension the rope properly to ensure a smooth and safe winching operation. To do this, you’ll need a tension gauge, a pair of gloves, and a winch remote control or a manual crank. Start by setting the winch to free spool mode and pulling the rope out until there is no tension on the drum. Then, attach the tension gauge to the rope and pull it until the desired tension is reached, according to the winch manufacturer’s specifications. Finally, tighten the set screw or the nut that secures the rope to the drum, and test the winch by pulling a light load.

Maintaining the Synthetic Rope

To ensure the longevity and performance of your synthetic rope, you need to take care of it regularly. Here are some tips on how to maintain your synthetic rope:

  • Clean the rope after each use with mild soap and water, and let it dry before storing it.
  • Inspect the rope for signs of wear, fraying, or damage before and after each use, and replace it if necessary.
  • Lubricate the rope with a silicone spray or a rope conditioner to reduce friction and prolong its life.
  • Store the rope in a cool, dry, and dark place, away from direct sunlight, heat, and moisture.
  • Protect the rope from sharp edges, chemicals, and other hazards that may cause abrasion or cutting.


Can I use a synthetic rope on any winch?

No, you need to select a synthetic rope that is compatible with your winch’s weight capacity, drum size, and configuration. Consult the winch and rope manuals or contact the manufacturer for guidance.

How often should I replace my synthetic rope?

It depends on how often you use it, how you store it, and how you maintain it. Inspect your rope regularly for signs of wear, fraying, or damage, and replace it if necessary.

Can I use a synthetic rope for recovery or towing?

Yes, synthetic ropes are commonly used for recovery, towing, and other applications that require a strong and durable rope. However, make sure you follow the safety guidelines and use the right equipment for the job.


Putting synthetic rope on a winch is not difficult, but it requires attention to detail, proper tools, and knowledge of the ropes and winch mechanisms. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can install and maintain your synthetic rope on your winch with confidence and safety. Remember to always read the winch and rope manuals, and to seek professional advice if you are unsure about any aspect of winching.

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