Trail Fix for Synthetic Winch Line

Things usually go wrong at the least convenient time….or so it seems.  You can prep your Jeep as much as you want but sometimes things will break on the trail.  Nothing is bullet proof and everything can break.  It may have nothing to do with a missed maintenance schedule….but it may have everything to do with poor inspection practices.  Or….it could be that you didn’t heed the advice about making sure your winch plate opening didn’t have any sharp edges on it. 

Whatever the reason, this write-up runs through a repair scenario for your winch line.  Jon, owner of, did a number of these repairs at the WERock event in Globe, Arizona this past month.  He did a few on the TXT Racing vehicles and spent some time showing me how it is done.  I’ve done one since then and it worked just like it was suppose to. 

Note:  This technique is for Amsteel Blue 12 strand line, which is used for making Viking winch line.

So…..the line has failed near the end where your winch hook is attached.  It looks pretty ratty at this point and reattaching the thimble and hook at this point wouldn’t be a good choice.  You will have to go back down the line until you get to a point where the line is in better condition. 

Work your way back from the end of the line until the line quality is looking better.  Cut the line at this point and discard the cut off portion.

A metal blunt pointed fid is used to splice the line.  For 3/8″ line, it is about 8″ long.  If you don’t have a fid with you, a BIC ball point pen will work as a suitable substitute….most are about 2″ shorter than the fid so keep this in mind if you use it for making your measurements.  Measure back one fid length from the end of the freshly cut line and mark it with a Sharpie marker.

At the mark you just made, mark three pairs of strands in the line, as shown above.  Once, marked, you will cut them and then pull them out of the line.  The point in doing this is so that the end of the line becomes tapered for its insertion into the line in the following steps.

OK….you have them marked so let’s get going.  Using a sharp scissors, snip each of the 6 strands and pull them out of the line.  To clarify, you are pulling 6 strands, each one about 8″ long, out of the rope. 

Trail Fix for Synthetic Winch Line

Using the fid as a measure stick, measure 3 fid lengths from the end of the line and again put a mark on the line using a Sharpie marker or piece of electrical tape (our marker died so we started using tape).  We’ll call this mark #2 (for future reference). 


It is time to attach the loose end of the rope to the end of the fid.  We used some electrical tape although duct tape (everyone has that in their Jeep, right?) would work just as well.  This would be the equivalent of “threading a needle” except that the rope is a bit too big to thread into the fid so we’ll tape it to the end which will be just as good.

If you intend to use an abrasion guard at the very end of the winch line, now would be the time to thread it onto the rope before you thread the rope through the thimble eye.  It may be necessary to put a couple of snips (using the scissors) at the end of the guard in order to get it to over the rope….it can be a very snug fit. 


Thread the fid through the thimble eye and back out the other side of the eye.  The thimble eye shown in here is a tube type and provides better winch line protection than a regular thimble eye.

Pull the line through the eye until mark #2 (electrical tape we put on earlier) just comes out of the eye.  The end of the line (about 3 fid lengths long) will now be threaded down the center of the rope.

Trail Fix for Synthetic Winch Line

Push the end of the fid between the strands of the rope and start it down the center of the winch line.  You are now going towards the winch, so to speak.  If you bunch of the winch line a bit, it is easier to get the fid to find its way down the middle of the winch line.  Take your time as you fish the fid through the center of the winch line.  You don’t want the fid’s point to “pop out” between the strands…..keep it totally within the center of the winch line.

Work the fid down center of the winch line while you slide the winch line along the newly inserted rope.  Having an extra hand or two, while not necessary, can come in handy. 

Continue to smooth the outer line over the newly inserted piece until all of the line has been ran down the center of the winch line.  You should be able to see the #2 mark just buried at the point where it goes into the main line.  Push the fid out of the side of winch line, remove the tape, and then smooth everything back into place.  The end of your line, where it attaches to the thimble, will be a little “fatter” for 3 fid lengths.  This stuff works like the old “Chinese finger pull”.  The winch line, when put under tension, squeezes down onto the inner line and grips it firmly in place. 

Since this was a trail fix, we didn’t stitch the end of the line together, which Samson requires for the Amsteel Blue rope.  Their web site shows how to stitch the line (easy enough to do).

That is about it.  After you’ve done a couple of them, you’ll find it pretty straight forward.  Samson has good info on their site for end to end line splicing.  I’ve not done one yet but have read through their write-up. 

Many thanks to Jon from for giving me a first hand demonstration of how to splice a thimble eye.

Good trails and remember to TREADLightly!