Fishing swivel sizes range from size 14 (10-20 lbs test strength) for panfish and small trout, to size 7/0 (800-1000 lbs test strength) for large sharks and giant groupers. Match the swivel size to the target species, line diameter, and strength to ensure successful fishing experiences.
|Approx. Test Strength (lbs)
|Panfish, small trout, perch
|Bass, walleye, smaller catfish
|Largemouth bass, carp, steelhead
|Pike, muskie, snapper, mackerel
|Salmon, tuna, tarpon, mahi-mahi
|Larger tuna, sailfish, marlin
|Amberjack, grouper, large shark
|Giant trevally, large billfish
|Bluefin tuna, large marlin, swordfish
|Large sharks, giant groupers
Table of Contents
Types of Fishing Swivels
There are five main types of swivels that I have used, and you should know about to help you select the right one for your needs.
A barrel swivel consists of two eyelets connected by a barrel-shaped component, allowing each eyelet to rotate independently. This design helps minimize line twist and tangles.
I use barrel swivels in the following situations:
- They prevent line twists caused by spinnerbaits.
- Connecting leaders when using different line materials (e.g., monofilament to fluorocarbon)
- When fishing with live bait, barrel swivels allow the bait to swim freely and appear more natural to predators.
- Barrel swivels help attach sinkers or weights to your line while keeping the bait separate.
A ball-bearing swivel is designed for smooth rotation and enhanced durability. It consists of two eyelets connected by a central component containing ball bearings. This design allows for a more efficient rotation, reducing line twist and tangles, especially under heavy loads or in high-resistance situations.
Ball-bearing swivel’s are used in the following situations:
- Ball-bearing swivels are ideal for handling heavy loads or strong fish species, as they provide superior strength and smoothness compared to standard swivels.
- When using lures that create high resistance or torque in the water, such as large spoons, deep-diving crankbaits, or umbrella rigs, ball-bearing swivels offer smoother rotation, minimizing line twist and improving lure action.
- Ball-bearing swivels excel at maintaining lure action and preventing line twist during high-speed trolling or when using diving planers and downriggers, ensuring your lure performs optimally.
- Due to their enhanced durability and corrosion resistance, ball-bearing swivels are well-suited for saltwater fishing, where they can withstand the harsh conditions and powerful fish species.
Ball-bearing swivels are the go-to choice for heavy-duty applications, high-resistance lures, trolling, and saltwater fishing, offering improved durability compared to standard swivels.
A snap swivel features a built-in spring-release snap fitting, allowing for quick and easy attachment or detachment of lures, rigs, or sinkers.
You would use a snap swivel in the following situations:
- Snap swivels enable you to switch lures quickly without having to cut and re-tie knots, making them ideal for situations where you need to experiment with different lures or adjust your presentation to changing conditions.
- Snap swivels can connect rigs, sinkers, or other accessories to your mainline or leader, allowing for easy rig adjustments or replacement.
- Like other swivels, snap swivels help prevent line twist and tangles, particularly when using spinning lures or live bait.
Snap swivels are convenient for quick lure changes, attaching rigs or sinkers, and reducing line twist, but may not be suitable when lure action or stealth is a top priority.
A three-way swivel has three eyelets connected to a central component, allowing for multiple lines or leaders to be attached. It enables the creation of more complex rigs or the use of multiple baits or lures simultaneously.
- I use three-way swivels when bottom fishing to create a rig that separates the sinker from the bait or lure. The mainline connects to one eyelet, a leader with bait or lure attaches to the second eyelet, and a weight or sinker connects to the third eyelet. This setup keeps the bait off the bottom and allows for better presentation.
- Three-way swivels can create multi-hook rigs, such as double-hook or dropper loop.
- In trolling applications, three-way swivels can attach multiple lures or baits at different depths or distances from the boat, increasing the chances of attracting fish.
- A three-way swivel can help maintain the proper presentation of your bait or lure at various depths and speeds when drift fishing.
Keep in mind that three-way swivels may not be suitable for all fishing situations or techniques, as they can potentially create more line twist and tangles due to their multiple connection points.
Three-way swivels are versatile for bottom fishing, creating multi-hook rigs, trolling, and drift fishing.
A finesse swivel is built specifically for ultra-light and finesse fishing applications. These swivels are smaller, lighter, and less visible than traditional swivels, making them ideal for clear water and situations where fish are highly pressured or easily spooked.
You would use a finesse swivel in the following situations:
- Finesse swivels are less visible, so they work well in clear water conditions where fish are more likely to detect and avoid standard swivels.
- When using light line and small lures or baits, finesse swivels provide a better match in size and weight, maintaining the balance and natural presentation of the overall rig.
- When targeting species known for being line-shy, finesse swivels help maintain a more stealthy presentation, increasing the chances of attracting fish.
- Finesse swivels are well-suited for finesse fishing techniques, such as drop shotting, wacky rigging, or the Ned rig, where a subtle and natural presentation is critical for success.
It is important to note that finesse swivels may not be suitable for heavy-duty applications or when targeting larger, stronger fish species due to their smaller size and reduced strength.
Finesse swivels are designed for ultra-light and finesse fishing applications where stealth, subtlety, and a natural presentation are critical for success. They work well in clear water, with light tackle, and when targeting pressured fish or employing finesse techniques.
When to Use a Swivel
There are many reasons to use a swivel on your fishing rig, here are some of my favorites:
- Swivels help reduce line twists using spinning lures, like spinnerbaits and spoons.
- Connect a leader to the mainline easily with a swivel, especially when using different line materials or diameters.
- Use a snap swivel to switch lures quickly without retying knots.
- Swivels enable live bait to swim more naturally by reducing line twist and allowing free movement.
- Swivels help maintain lure action and prevent line twist during high-speed trolling or when using diving planers.
How to Choose a Swivel
First, consider the target species. Match the swivel size to the fish you aim to catch, ensuring it can handle the anticipated force. Larger swivels are suitable for stronger, larger fish, while smaller ones are ideal for lighter, smaller fish.
Next, take into account the fishing line strength and diameter. Select a swivel corresponding to your line’s test strength and diameter to maintain overall rig balance and effectiveness.
The fishing technique you plan to use also plays a role in determining the appropriate swivel type. Different swivel types are designed for specific techniques:
- Barrel swivels are general-purpose swivels that help reduce line twist
- Ball-bearing swivels are ideal for heavy-duty applications or when using high-resistance lures, as they provide smoother rotation.
- Snap swivels enable quick lure changes, but may affect lure action, so use them when changing lures frequently.
- Three-way swivels are useful for bottom fishing or creating multi-hook rigs, and crane swivels provide extra strength and smoothness for saltwater applications.
Another critical factor is the lure type and size. Match the swivel size to your lure, ensuring it doesn’t impede its action or visibility. When using larger or heavier lures, opt for a larger swivel.
Consider water conditions and visibility. Choose smaller, less visible swivels in clear water to avoid spooking fish. For murky water, swivel size and visibility are less critical.