Angler’s Guide to Fishing Swivels
Swivels are an item of fishing tackle found in most tackle boxes, but not every angler knows what they are or how to use them. While they are not typically deemed “essential” to an effective setup, they can help an angler out in more ways than meet the eye.
What is a Fishing Swivel?
A swivel is a small piece of tackle, typically made of nickel-plated brass or stainless steel, that helps attach terminal tackle to the main fishing line. The primary benefit of a swivel for most anglers is to prevent twist in monofilament line - a common nuisance and serious detriment to fishing line and performance. Swivels also allow anglers to attach multiple pieces of tackle with ease. If used tactfully by an angler, swivels can be adapted for a wide variety of purposes such as stopping a sliding sinker. Sold in many sizes and colors, swivels are an adaptable tackle box item that are often underestimated by anglers.
Types of Swivels
Most fishing swivels fall into one of two categories: ball-bearing and barrel.
Ball-bearing swivels contain two stainless steel balls around the body to allow the swivel to rotate in order to avoid line twist. This type of swivel is better at handling heavy loads and is essential for reeling in monster catches, but they can be fairly expensive.
Here are some of the best ball-bearing swivels on the market.
Barrel swivels are more traditional swivels known by most anglers. They are typically made of nickel-plated brass and consist of a singular barrel in the center that twists with weight. These swivels are much more popular due to their convenience and low cost, but they are sometimes unable to handle heavier weight, especially when offshore fishing.
Here are some of the best barrel swivels on the market.
When to Use a Swivel
Simply put, you’ll want to use a swivel when you’re catching fish heavy enough to cause line twist. That being said, there are certain scenarios in which line is more likely to twist and you should try to have a swivel on hand. Fishing techniques such as offshore, deepwater, and drop shot fishing have a higher risk of line twist. Obviously, twisted line diminishes the line quality and can sometimes cause it to break. Other times when using a swivel is beneficial are when you’re casting into an area with a strong current.
Then we have the other side of the coin: when not to use a swivel. Most anglers agree that using a swivel when it isn't necessary can weaken the line and become an obstacle to success. Also, the inconvenience of tying the swivel to your line can take extra time away from your precious day of fishing. So when should you avoid swivels? Whenever you’re fishing inshore with a light current, you most likely won’t need one!
How to Fish With a Swivel
When using a swivel, the set up is really the only part that requires actual effort. Once it's on, it does the work for you! Setting up your swivel is relatively easy, it just takes some basic knowledge of fishing knots. Most rigs only require one swivel, but some may need multiple. Make sure you’re using an appropriately sized swivel for the fish you hope to catch.
The basic method for tying your swivel starts with leading your monofilament line into the eye of your swivel. Then, wrap the line 5-8 times around, creating a loop with your middle finger. Next, take the tag end of your line and thread it through the loop you just created. Lastly, you can use moisture to ensure the knot is secure, then pull it tight.
Here are a few helpful tutorials for trying a swivel to your line:
Once You’re Finished Tying…
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