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Types of Fishing Swivels and When to Use Them

Views: 19     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2020-09-02      Origin: Site

Types of Fishing Swivels and When to Use Them


There is little else more frustrating than fishing on a beautiful day and having to stop because your line is tangling. Line twists are not only a pain but they can also create weak spots in the line. You want to do what you can to try and prevent this from happening. There are many things that can stop the line twists from happening and using a swivel is the simplest and most effective way. This article will walk you through the different types of fishing swivels so you will be able to choose the best one for you. For additional tips on twisting line you can also refer to our article: How to, Fishing Line Twist Remover.

Best Situations For The Different Types of Fishing Swivels

You should know the best situations to use specific types of swivels. A swivel is the best choice if you are using a lure that is going to twist upon the retrieve such as a spoon or spinner. A crankbait is a type of lure that does not twist and is retrieved in a relatively straight path. So, you will not need a swivel when using a crankbait. If fishing with live bait you might not need a swivel but that will all depend on the type of fish you are attempting to catch. If you are trying to catch a fish that tends to fight and twist the line, such as a catfish, then a swivel is a smart choice.

You will want to use a steel leader with your swivel if you are attempting to catch a fish that has teeth such as muskies or walleyes. This will prevent the fish biting and cutting through the line.  Another factor in whether to use a swivel or not depends on the type of tackle you will be using. If you are using a spinning reel the smart choice is to also use a swivel because the spinning reel tends to twist the line.

There are complaints from some anglers that swivels are merely a nuisance and impede proper casting while scaring the fish away. However, swivels have been improved through the years and these arguments are no longer valid. There are all types of fishing swivels that are beneficial and do not hinder your fishing.

Description of Fishing Swivels

Swivels connect the line leading from the rod to the lure. A swivel has two rings and those two rings are connected by a joint in the middle that pivots. The fishing line is connected to the bottom ring and to the top ring. The purpose of the middle joint is to keep the bottom ring turning the line without getting it tangled.

Basic Swivel Colors

Swivels are made mostly of nickel-plated brass and have stainless steel rings. This leaves them shiny and can cause a problem when fishing. Fish might get spooked, or even worse, they might bite the swivel causing a cut-off. The other choice is a black swivel. The swivel becomes black after going through a chemical process. The process weakens the brass and it could mean a bad swivel that breaks. 

You will want to choose a swivel that is slightly heavier than the leader. By going only a little heavier you decrease the risk of having the swivel be a distraction to fish. They will be less likely to go after the swivel. But if you choose to go a lot heavier this could ensure the swivel can handle heavier loads like bigger game fish. It also keeps the swivel working even when a fish bites. You need to see which option works best for you when selecting a type of fishing swivel.

Different Types of Fishing Swivels

It is important to know the different types of fishing swivels, so you can choose what works best for your fishing situation. There are advantages and disadvantages to each one and specific reasons they work best under certain conditions.

Barrel Swivels


A barrel swivel is the most common of all the types of swivels. The reason for its popularity is that it comes in many sizes and is inexpensive. However, a barrel swivel can not handle a heavy load. If the bait, caught fish or lure is too heavy the swivel does not turn. For this reason, it is important to have the correctly sized barrel swivel. Barrel swivels work best when used with pre-rigged worms, weightless flukes and lures that usually twist the lines with their movement. One issue with barrel swivels is the metal on metal friction. The brass head and brass body cause friction and grinding and that could lead to future problems.  However, if sized correctly and used with light loads the barrel swivel performs great and can be an ideal selection when choosing swivels. 

Best Practice for Barrel Type of Fishing Swivel

Most anglers find that leaving two to four foot of line between the barrel swivel and the lure. This leaves enough room between the lure and swivel and there is no restriction to impede the natural movement of the lure.  We like the Shaddock Fishing Rolling Swivel High-Strength Stainless Steel Barrels.

Ball-Bearing Swivels


The ball-bearing swivel is another popular type of fishing swivel. The ball-bearing swivel is more expensive than a barrel swivel because there are ball bearings inside between the spindle and the body. This allows for more versatility and can handle any load. Ball-bearing swivels are best used when off-shore fishing but are also helpful for larger freshwater game. This swivel performs well under extreme pulling tension. We like the Scotank 25 pcs Ball Bearing Swivel Solid Welded Rings Heavy Duty Test 65 -380 Lb.

Crane Swivel


A crane swivel falls between the barrel swivel and ball-bearing swivel in price and performance. It is most similar to the barrel swivel but it performs better when it comes to heavy loads.  Because a free swinging swivel is linked with another swivel the bait swims freely going around in circles.  It also prevents line twist from the sinker as well as the bait. Crane swivels are a great choice when using a heavy fishing line for catfish and when using crawler rigs, spinnerbaits and live bait. We like the Unclesport 50 piece 3 Way Heavy Duty Crane Swivel.

Extreme Swivel


Also known as an Australian-style swivel, the extreme swivel is known for its strength and durability. Once upon a time professional fishermen were the only ones to commonly use this swivel but now the extreme swivel is mainstream and used by anglers at all levels. There are situations the common swivel cannot withstand and that is the situation that calls for the extreme swivel. These situations include fishing for giant tuna, big blue marlin and swordfish. The extreme swivels can be without ball-bearings or can include ball-bearings. These extreme swivels come with a hefty price tag, however. They are approximately twice as much as a regular ball-bearing swivel.  Connect a heavy wind on leader to a short leader or connect heavy braid to heavy leaders and wire-line trolling. We like the Lobo Lures Aussie Style Swivels.

Finesse Swivel


When discussing different types of fishing swivels, it would be wrong to not mention the finesse swivel. It is similar in appearance to a barrel design. Also known as the power swivel, the finesse swivel got its name because of the anglers’ desire to lessen the tackle they use. Fish are not drawn to the tackle as much when there is less there to distract them. Finesse swivels deliver more strength while in a more compact size. These swivels track through the water quietly and are not quite as visible as the larger swivels which is great for not attracting the attention of fish.  We like the Gamakatsu G Finesse Swivel Drop Shot Fishing Hook with Nano Smooth Coat.

Caring For Your Fishing Swivels

Whatever type of swivel you choose you want to be sure to take care of it and keep it in great working order. Rinse them when you clean your tackle. After a particularly large catch you will want to make sure the swivel is in good working order and twists appropriately. Of course, there always comes a time when you will need to replace an older swivel to ensure you have equipment that is working and won’t let you down when you need it the most.

Using Snaps Instead of Fishing Swivels

If you are not dealing with issues concerning twisting lines and you do not want the hassle of a full swivel you can always choose to add a snap instead. As with the swivel, you have a variety of snaps to choose from. Snaps will work best with surface lures because they give the lure the freedom to move across the surface of the water, uninhibited by a swivel.

Duo-Lock Snap 


The duo-lock snap is a common snap that you can open and close easily. However, a fish that is fighting on the line could inadvertently open the snap. To help avoid this, bend the hooked closure slightly backward. We like the Unclesport Fishing Duo-Lock Snap.

Cross-Lok Snap


Anglers use the cross-lok snap for heavy lines and strong tackle. This is a durable snap but it can be difficult to fit through smaller hooks and lure eyes. When closing it, make sure it’s hooked securely on the uppermost part of the wire. We like the Berkley Cross-Lok Snap.

With everything to consider when fishing using a swivel might seem like a small part of it but a swivel can make or break your fishing trip. As an angler, you want to always stop line twists and prevent the weakening of the line. Choosing the right type of fishing swivel can solve your problems. There is a type of fishing swivel for your needs and challenges. Knowing which one can make or break your success while fishing.


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