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Rig Guide


Safety | Rigs | Component Guides


Terminal tackle component guides

Find out more about the components you use to build your beach and rock fishing rigs.


Lead links and clips

Choosing the right swivel

There are numerous designs of swivels available in a range of sizes and from different manufacturers, so how do you decide which swivel to use?

Sea fishing swivels

Swivel Quality

The quality of swivels can vary dramatically. Buying bulk ‘no-brand’ swivels on auction websites might seem tempting, but will they perform well and are they safe? I’ve seen cheap, faulty swivels pulled apart with fingers; this could have resulted in a lost fish at best and a dead beach user at worst.

The fact is that the swivel that connects the shock leader to the rig is crucial to safety. Choose quality swivels from a recognised manufacturer/reputable tackle dealer.


Swivel size

The main purpose of a swivel is to stop the fishing rig body or snood/hooklength from twisting. The eyes of the swivel twist independently of each other, and the swivel body, to absorb and remove any twist in the line caused during the cast, impact with the water, by the current or on the retrieve.

The easier the swivels components can twist the more effective the swivel is, therefore a smaller, lighter swivels works much more efficiently than a larger, heavier swivel. The size of the swivel also affects its breaking strain; the larger the swivel, the higher breaking strain it has.

The sizing system for swivels is the same as for hooks where size 12 would be very small, size 1 would be large and then we would move to the oversize swivels. 1/O is one size bigger than size 1 moving up to huge swivels of 8/O or more. For beach fishing swivels between size 1 and size 12 are the most appropriate.


Swivel design

When buying swivels you have the option of round eyes, diamond eyes, or sometimes one of each.

The shape of the eye does have a purpose. Round eyes easily rotate around trapped beads, while diamond eyes help to keep the knot centred, which lets the eye smoothly rotate when under heavy load.


Barrel Swivels

These are a very basic swivel, usually bronzed, which are bigger, weaker, and not as efficient under a heavy load as rolling or crane swivels. Often only available with round eyes.

Approximate breaking and sizes (approx) for barrel swivels are as follows:

Size 1 - 80lb
Size 4 - 50lb
Size 6 - 40lb
Size 8 - 30lb
Size 10 - 25lb
Size 12 - 20lb
These can vary substantially depending on manufacturer.


Rolling Swivel

A popular choice. These are smaller and much stronger than barrel swivels, plus they rotate much better under a heavy load. Available with various coatings and with round eyes, diamond eyes or one diamond eye and one round eye.

Approximate breaking and sizes (approx) for rolling swivels are as follows:

Size 1 - 180lb
Size 4 - 110lb
Size 6 - 85lb
Size 8 - 65lb
Size 10 - 40lb
Size 12 - 25lb
These can vary substantially depending on manufacturer.


Crane Swivel

Smaller and stronger than rolling or barrel swivels, and smoother under heavy load. Some of the more expensive crane swivels are substantially stronger than the guide.

Approximate breaking strain and sizes for crane swivels are as follows:

Size 1 - 170lb
Size 4 - 125lb
Size 6 - 90lb
Size 8 - 75lb
Size 10 - 60lb
Size 12 - 40lb
These can vary substantially depending on manufacturer.


3 Way Swivel

3 way swivels are often based on barrel swivels, although it is possible to buy superior ones which are based on rolling swivels. They are particularly useful when rock fishing for species such as wrasse, where distance casting isn’t needed. The 3 way swivel keeps tangles to a minimum and enables really simple rigs with a minimum of components to be used where tackle losses can be high.


Swivel alternatives
(rig body to snood/hooklength)


Tubertini Vertigo & Grizzly

These transparent connectors clip on to the rig body, rather than being threaded on the line. The clip can rotate around the mainline, and the snood can rotate once attached to the clip. They are a good solution where a fluorocarbon rig body and snood/hooklength are needed to reduce the risk of spooking fish, such as bass and bream.


Blood Loop Knot

The blood loop can be bulky and unrefined, but it removes the need for crimps, swivels and beads. This makes it ideal for rough ground fishing where distance casting isn’t required, and tackle losses can be very high.


Methods of locking a swivel in position

Choosing the right sea fishing hook

Rotten bottom systems (coming soon!)

Choosing the right lead (coming soon!)



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