If you’re new to fishing there is so much information on using swivels that it may seem like an impossible feat to learn the basics on what you need and how to apply this useful device.
There are a few popular types of swivels such as Barrel, Ball Bearing and Three-way swivels. To use a swivel in its basic form, tie one eyelet to the line running from your reel, and the other eyelet to a leader line. Doing this will prevent your line from twisting and possibly breaking off under stress from that catch you’ve been after all day. You can also use snap swivel versions to attach lures, and Three-way swivels to attach weights.
To learn more about the different swivels, their application and how to rig them up, continue reading!
What is a Swivel?
Fishing swivels have a few different forms but the most basic is a center barrel with an eyelet on each side. These eyelets turn independent of each other and will prevent spinning lures and fish from twisting your main line.
When using a Three-way swivel, you can incorporate a sinker weight for example with each swivel also rotating independently.
To summarize, swivels provide an axis point that prevents break-offs from a twisted line.
Construction, Finish & Price
Since you are inserting a device into your line and tying on knots to each eyelet, you are adding more weak points compared to just using your line without a swivel.
Knowing this, it is best to invest more money into your swivel which could be the difference between landing the fish and having it break off.
Stainless steel is recommended, you can also find brass alternatives. Brass is weaker than stainless steel, so at the minimum I would suggest to at least ensure the eyelets are made of stainless steel with a brass core/barrel.
If you become concerned thinking that the shiny stainless steel is giving your line away to fish (especially trout), there are also finish options you can pick up that reduces the visibility of the swivel such as dark grey and black.
When shopping for swivels, chances are products near the highest range are the best quality. There are several combo packages available containing several sizes so you might find it reasonable to fork over a few more dollars to have a larger selection of swivels to select from.
The more expensive swivels have internal ball bearings within the barrel to provide a more consistent rotation even when there is a large amount of pulling tension. Variations of the swivel include the snap swivel or inter-lock swivel for quickly attaching lures.
Best Knots To Use
To keep things simple, below are two types of knots. If you are doing offshore fishing for bigger species of fish, then you would most likely want to use a ball bearing swivel with an Offshore Swivel Knot. In most other cases, say fishing for trout, then the Improved Clinch Knot will do just fine:
The best knots to use with swivels are those that are attached directly to the swivel eyelets. Loop knots are not preferred as the torque won’t apply directly to the pivot point which reduces the response of the eyelet rotation.
What are the Different Types of fishing Swivels?
Since this discussion started with the basics, let’s keep it that way. If you’ve scanned Google for information already, you can easily find yourself overwhelmed by all the different types and uses for swivels.
Let’s assume you are going to either attached a leader to your line and want to reduce line twisting, or you are going to attach a sinker weight. For these situations, below are 3 different types of commonly used swivels:
The least expensive swivel, the Barrel Swivel performs as it should with light to moderate tension.
The Barrel Swivel is a hallow body core, most produced of brass or nickel plated brass, that has bent pins for eyelets that run through the body of the barrel.
Under significant tension though, friction occurs from the metal grinding together and reduces the effectiveness of this swivel creating an inability for the eyelets to properly turn.
This swivel will get the job done if you are fishing for brook trout and you shouldn’t have any problem.
Ball Bearing Swivel
The Ball Bearing Swivel is the most expensive type of swivel because it has internal ball bearings that keep a consistent smooth rotation without friction and can be used when battling the lightest or heaviest species of fish.
The bearings, swivel body and eyelets consist of stainless steel and are what I view as the most dependent swivel on the market.
- Bass Pro Shops Ball Bearing Swivel with Solid Ring
- American Fishing Wire Black Ball Bearing Swivels
- Bass Pro Shops Ball Bearing Swivel with Interlock Snap
Three-way swivels can be used in several ways, the most popular is attached to a float or weight device, with each eyelet being able to rotate. The swivel is attached to your main line, while a leader connects to the other two eyelets.
An example is to use a three-way swivel is to have the weight setup to one of the leaders, and the other with a hook tied on. You can attach a marshmallow and worm on the hook and let your bait drift on top of the water.
Three-way swivels can contain ball bearings connected to each eyelet. Most three-way swivels are brass or a color finish on top of the brass.
You can purchase these as stainless steel or brass, but the same rule applies – stainless steel is stronger and more dependable so spend the extra money to reduce break-offs if you’re after a larger species.
The Bottom Line
When you have a situation that you need a swivel such as using a spinning lure that tends to twist your line, make sure you have a good quality swivel and tie the appropriate knots. This will save you from potential break offs.
Practice makes perfect, try a few times tying on your swivel and eventually this will become second nature.
Finally, keep in mind that for smaller species of fish brass will do the job, but as you go after bigger stronger fish, you’ll need to invest a few more dollars into ball bearing swivels. Now you know how to use fishing swivels!
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