5-Minute Guide On How To Use Fishing Swivels

Talks about how to use fishing swivels and their pros and cons are one of the many angling discussions that arrive at the same answer: it depends… on what type of fishing you’re doing, what lure you use, your area for fishing, and many other factors. 

While it remains a decision that rests on your shoulders, we’ll tell you how to use fishing swivels in the event you decide to go ahead and use them.

Dive in!

Meet A Fishing Swivel

A fishing swivel is a small metal device with two rings attached together in a distinct pivotal joint and connects your finishing line sections. 

It allows seamless line rotations without causing unwanted tangling and makes it easier to detangle them in worst-case scenarios. One ring is tied with your line from the rod and reel while the lure, hook, and/or sinker is tied to the other ring. 

Though a fishing swivel is not entirely a “must-have”,  we do think learning how to use them can come in handy for your angling journey.

Pros and Cons of Using A Swivel

Most anglers would say fishing goes fairly fine even without using a swivel, but we say these situations are better faced with a swivel:

  1. When your preferred lure is prone to twisting during retrieval (e.g. inline spinners and metal spoons)
  2. When you’re using live/dead bait that’s also prone to twisting during trolling.
  3. When you use baits on areas with great current
  4. When you want to swap out your lure or leader line without gaps. The snap attached to only of its ends streamlines the switching for you.

Other than these instances, we do feel there are no other swivel-perfect scenes you can get your tool working. 

As to why many anglers say no to using fishing swivels…

  1. Using a swivel with a fragile line makes it even brittle, and thus you’re more prone to cast with unnecessary dips that lose the catch.
  2. It can damage rod guides when the swivel gets reeled up farther than intended and hits the guide.
  3. It’s more time-consuming to tie lines on a swivel than to tie knots together without one.

It’s not definitive if either of the pros and cons outweighs the other. It can be as advantageous as any other accessories or just get in the way of angling if you’re unsure of how to use fishing swivels. 

One thing’s for sure: there’s more about fishing swivels!

Types of Fishing Swivels

Aside from using a swivel when it matches your fishing conditions and technique, choosing among the most common types of fishing swivels helps narrow down your personal guide on how to use fishing swivels.

Barrel swivels

From the name itself, the two adjacent rings are connected with a small barrel between each of their sides. Even though this may be the most common swivel anglers use, it does not always prevent line twists thanks to the semi-stiff rotation of the rings.

Ball-bearing swivels

It looks almost the same as barrel swivels except a ball-bearing swivel’s pivotal joint are more rounded than that of the former. They are more efficient in keeping your lines in order. Although, it is quite a given that the better a product performs and the many features it has, the higher the cost would be. 

Snap swivels

Instead of a regular ring, a snap is attached to one of its ends. Anglers love snap swivels because they are not as expensive as ball-bearing swivels and it’s pretty easy to switch lures instead of tying them one by one.

Three-way swivels

A triangular setup of rings like a ball-bearing swivel alleviates the worries of getting snagged. This is best for tying weights when trolling rigs so you get as close as possible to your desired catch without ruining your setup.

Finesse swivels

This looks like a three-ways swivel but a hook is placed in the middle of two rings instead of a third ring. Finesse, like its name, adds a bit of a touch to your setup. When you add a drop shot weight with a leader line, it’s not tied to your swivel so it’s easier to let go of the weight in the event it gets snagged in the bottom. No strings attached and less damage to your rod.

Don’t Forget The Size

Swivels also vary in size. The smallest starts at 12, then rise as the numbers decrease to size 1. From 1 it transitions to 1/0 before reaching the biggest size, 12/0. 

The best place to start is always the smallest one. As you gradually increase the size of your desired catch, your fishing swivel size shall also increase.

Which one should you use?

Well… it depends. 

Your fishing technique and the lure you use will determine which type of swivel you should employ and how to use them efficiently. Although we do not usually use swivels, we generally alternate between barrel swivels and ball-bearing swivels when we see the need to do so. 

Lures that rotate more than you intend to will match well with ball-bearing swivels. If they don’t rotate as much, a barrel swivel will do. For better flexibility and easier navigation when you plan to switch our lures in between angling, then go for a snap swivel. 

You can buy one of each or try them one at a time to find out which swivel type fits your style. Practice using fishing swivels before you get into action and fine-tune your set-up until you’re more confident to start catching.

Tie Them Tight With These Knots

Knots also play a part in your swivel’s performance. They ensure your lines are steady enough on your swivels that they can reel the catch you are aiming for. There are several ways you can secure your swivel to your line, but these three are the most common knots:

Simple Knot

  • Make a loop and insert it into one of the swivel’s rings. 
  • Wrap the loop around your line into an overhand knot.
  • Push the swivel into the original loop you’ve created.
  • Tighten carefully, with one hand on the swivel and another on the line.
  • Cut off the excess line with scissors so it doesn’t get in the way. 

Offshore Swivel Knot

  • Make a loop and insert it into one of the swivel’s rings.
  • Twist the line so they overlap each other.
  • Fold back the loop that is above the swivel so that it overlaps the line. Place the fingers of one hand where the loop and line meet to hold the knot in place.
  • Rotate or spin the swivel 3 to 6 times through the loop’s and line’s opening.
  • The swivel should rotate completely so you can get the coils needed.
  • Pull the line and tighten the knot.

Improved Clinch Knot

  • Insert a line into the swivel’s ring.
  • Overlap one line over the other and thread it into the loop created.
  • Do this 5 to 7 times.
  • When you reach the last rotation, leave a bit of space when threading it into the loop.
  • Instead of circling it in the original line, insert your working line into the new loop created by that small gap from the last rotation, bringing the line parallel to the main line.
  • Tighten the knot.
  • Cut off the excess line so you can grip it easily.

Should I attach a hook directly to a swivel?

Generally, a hook on a swivel doesn’t affect your fishing experience. However, it’s best to consider how it can scare or draw fish to your lure. Try adding a hook when you practice your fishing setup so you can see if it affects the way you cast or reel.

So what now?

Time for action!

When you decide on which swivel is best matched for you and know how to use fishing swivels, it will become natural for you to discern which fishing day needs a swivel and which doesn’t.

Pro-tip: Do not let others’ bad encounters with swivels or your epic first-time with a swivel ruin the fun for you! Each one’s experience will always be one-of-a-kind and your firsts will guide you on how to throw better catches with or without swivels next time. If your instincts say that your line and lure need a swivel hand, go and use one. 

Angling is pretty much a trial-and-error sport that helps hone your decision-making and problem-solving skills on top of all the fun and talent you can get from fishing. Opinions on a lot of matters are asymptotic so follow who you think mirrors your abilities.

As always, take time to understand each part of your fishing setup and ask questions when things get more confusing. Experts were once like you but were not afraid to reach out so they can lure bigger catches. Asking a friend who can help you digest concepts and techniques gives you a head start. If you are the first one trying out the sport and have no one to ask personally, our beginner’s guides are accessible 24/7.

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