What is a Marlin Spike

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People who enjoy sailing, diving or boating know what a marlinspike is and that it can be an essential tool when it comes to certain tasks.

A marlinspike helps in handling various tasks such as unlaying rope that needs to be spliced, untying knots, drawing marline tight with the use of a marlinspike hitch and as a toggle to join ropes under tension in a belaying pin splice. A marlinespike is shaped like a polished metal cone, and it is tapered to a round or tapered point.

Please read our full review on the best sailing knifes which all come with a marlinspike.

History of Marlinspikes

It’s hard to date when the first Marlinspike was invented but we can easily trace it to the 1600’s. There is one in the Maritime Museum of Tasmania that is made of whale bone.

A marlinespike is one of the more uncommon patterns in an extensive history of folding knives. The knife is a combination of the early rope knife as well as the singular, knitting-needle-like marlinspike. The items were combined to become a single tool that has been used by many sailors and divers learned to love

Combination of Knife and Marlinspike

The blade works by cutting ropes while the spike is made to work with knots and splicing rope. A marlinespike lives today in the form of copies of the original ones, and thoroughly recent send-ups. Moreover, climbers who tie many knots while proceeding in their adventures also find marlinespikes to be very efficient.

Usually, a marlinespike is about 6-12 inches long, although it may sometimes reach 2 feet and more if it is required to work heavy cables and ropes. The material used to make a marlinespike is iron or steel. 

A marlinespike can be found as a separate tool, but sometimes, it may be an item on a pocket knife. The knife is made in a way that it locks in place and folds back into the handle built opposite the blade. The steel used to make the marlinspike helps in resisting corrosion so that the knife will not rust easily. 

The titanium and stainless blade allows the knife to be sharp so that it can cut easily. A foldable design protects the blade and the spike when they are not being used, and it also has hooks that keep every tool in place when the sailor is not using it.

What are Marlinespike Features

If you want to make your sailing tasks safer aboard your sailboat, you can use a marlinspike for:

  • Spreading fiber or wire rope strands that need to be spliced
  • Loosening shackle pins by inserting into a pin-hole and twisting.
  • Slacking rope frozen onto cleats or winches.
  • Prying open paint, varnish or thinner cans.
  • etc…..

These are only a few ways that a marlinespike can serve you aboard any boat anywhere in the world. Carrying a marlinespike with you when sailing can be a safety measure that will save your life in case an emergency arises. Most recently made marlinspikes have a shackle fitting and are specially designed to be effective in demanding rope work.

Marlinespikes are not only needed by sailors, but other people can also appreciate the all-around usefulness of the tool. Sailing knives are personal tools, and sailors feel very passionate about the trusty marlinspikes.


The Marlinspike is a tool that most sailors have and sometimes with out even knowing it. They are very helpful and very easy to learn how to use. Ever have a knot that you can’t get undone well this is the most common use for the marlinspike.

Please read our full review of the best sailing knifes and buyer’s guide.

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