Fishing With Swivels: Should You Actually Use Them?

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When it comes to fishing with swivels, I’ve seen people use them in certain situations but I’ve also seen people not use them. I know they’re designed to stop your line from twisting, but do they actually work, and if they do, when should you use them.

What I decided to do was test out a number of different lures and a few different techniques. Casting lures from shore, trolling them around, jigging them, pretty much all the basics. We’ll be diving into each type of lure and whether or not you should use a swivel.

Just in case you were wondering, some of my favorite swivels are the Brad’s Bead Chain (on Amazon) or the Spro Ball Bearing Swivel (on Amazon). Some of the swivels on the market don’t turn as well as others, so it’s probably a good idea to pay a bit extra for something solid. Anyways, let’s jump into everything you need to know about swivels.

What Are Swivels Used For?

The main benefit to using a swivel is that it will prevent your line from twisting in the water. When fishing with lures that spin, using a swivel will slow down that line twist and will make sure your line performs up to its specs.

Just imagine if you took a rope and started twisting it. It’s going to quickly bunch up, it’ll turn into different shapes, and it’ll eventually cause a tangle.

Not only that, but it’s also going to reduce the strength of the line. I don’t know if you’ve ever pulled a trailer behind your vehicle, but if you have, you’ve probably heard that twisting the emergency chain will lower the amount of weight it can hold. The same goes for your fishing line.

What Size Swivel To Use?

When it comes to swivels, you’ll want to go as small as possible. Having a swivel that’s too big will make it more visible in the water and could also impact the action of the lure. Both are bad things.

You obviously need to make the swivel to the fish you’re after. There’s no point in using a swivel that’s rated for 60 lbs if you’re only going after small rainbow trout.

Here’s a general table for what size swivel to use:

Swivel SizeStrengthIdeal For
1220 LBSSmall trout, kokanee, panfish, walleye, bass
10-831-42 LBSLake trout
8-642-66 LBSKing salmon

What size swivel for trout: The ideal swivel size for small trout is size #12, which has a strength rating of around 20 lbs. Swivels this size can also be used for panfish, walleye, and bass.

What size swivel for lake trout: The ideal swivel size for lake trout is size 8-10, which has a strength rating of between 31-42 LBS.

What size swivel for salmon: The ideal swivel size for salmon trolling is size 8-6, which has a strength rating of between 42-66 LBS.

Do You Use A Swivel With A Spoon?

For fishing with spoons such as a Kastmaster, you only need to use a swivel if you’re trolling. For casting and retrieving and jigging, the spoon won’t spin enough to cause a line twist, so you can tie it directly to your line.

I have seen people use a swivel anytime they’re using a spoon, and that is something you can do. You can land fish either way, but for me, I only use one if I’m trolling. Pulling one through the water and going through the current can throw the spoon around, and a swivel will stop a bit of the twist.

On the other hand, if I’m jigging or casting, I pretty much never use a swivel. Again, you could, but I’ve never run into any issues not using one. Having more tackle on your line gives fish more to see. It also adds more break off-points. Just not worth it in my eyes.

Spoons are designed to move from side to side, they don’t spin a whole lot. I trolled without a swivel for a couple of hours and my line had a little bit of twist in it. Nothing crazy, but it was enough to want a swivel.

Do You Use A Swivel With A Crankbait?

Jerkbait vs Crankbait

When fishing with crankbaits or jerkbaits, there is no need to use a swivel. These lures only move side to side and don’t spin, so they won’t cause your fishing line to twist.

Crankbaits can be used for a number of different fish and are normally used for trolling or casting. They’re designed to look like a wounded fish, but have you ever seen a fish spin around in the water?

Fish don’t spin and neither do crankbaits. That’s why you don’t need to use a swivel. Tie your line directly to the lure and you’ll most likely have the best results.

Swivels just make changing lures easier, but they also can break if you hook into a bigger fish. Just practice your knots, it takes less than 30 seconds. See our favorite fishing knots here.

Do You Use A Swivel With A Spinnerbait?

When fishing with spinnerbaits, there is no need to use a swivel. Spinnerbaits don’t spin all the way around, so the best approach is to tie your line directly to the spinnerbait.

Spinnerbaits are mostly used for bass and are different than an in-line spinner like you’d use for trout (rooster tail, panther martin, etc). Most people will cast them out and reel them in.

The only part of the lure that spins around is the blade. The actual lure (normally) doesn’t spin completely, you aren’t using a whole lot of line, and that’s why you don’t need to use a swivel.

Plus, having a swivel can impact the action of the lure. It also adds another break-off point that could come undone if your knot isn’t great. Don’t worry, we’ve all done it.

Do You Use A Swivel With A Jig?

When fishing with a jig, there is no need to use a swivel. Adding a swivel increases the chance that your lure breaks off, and since jigs don’t spin, there are zero benefits to using a swivel.

Just like with some of the other lures out there, some people like using a snap swivel because it’s easier to swap out lures. With certain lures that’s fine, but with some, it’s not.

If you tie your line and lure together directly using a solid knot, you’ll have way more strength to land bigger fish. Plus, once you get good at tying knots, you can be rigged up and ready to go in under 30 seconds. See our favorite fishing knots here.

Do You Use A Swivel With A Spinner?

When fishing with a spinner such as a Rooster Tail, you only need to use a swivel if you’re trolling. These lures are designed to spin around completely, and if you don’t use a swivel, your line will twist a lot.

Anytime I’m trolling with a spoon or spinner, I’ll use a swivel. A lot of the time, the flasher I use already has a swivel built-in, but I also sometimes use a 3-way swivel to add some weight. Here’s an article that will show you how to fish a spinner with a swivel.

I do a lot of casting with spinners and rarely use a swivel for that. I like being able to reel in all the way without having to worry about my swivel jamming into the guides. I also don’t want to add another break-off point.

Since I’m not using a whole lot of line, getting the twist out is pretty simple. I’m gone out for hours, made hundreds of casts, and never run into problems with serious line twists.

Do You Use A Swivel With A Chatterbait?

When fishing with a chatterbait, there is no need to use a swivel. Just like with spinnerbaits, chatterbait lures don’t spin all the way around, so using a swivel to prevent line twists is not necessary.

Just like with any of the other lures, you could use a snap swivel to quickly change between lures. For me, the pros don’t outweigh the cons. Cutting your line and attaching a new lure is easy enough to do.

The main benefit to using swivels is that they’ll stop your line from twisting. Since chatterbait doesn’t spin around, I can’t see any reason to use them.

Should You Use A Swivel When Bass Fishing?

When fishing for bass, you only need to use a swivel when you’re using a lure that spins completely. Most bass anglers use jigs, spinnerbaits, or crankbaits, and if that’s the case, you do not need to use a swivel.

Anytime I’ve been bass fishing (or seen someone online), I’ve never used a lure that spins all the way around. Jigs don’t really move at all. crankbaits only move side to side, and the blades on a spinnerbait are the only thing to spin completely.

That’s why I probably wouldn’t use a swivel. Using one just adds another break-off point, and that is why I’d way rather connect my lines together directly.

Should You Use A Swivel For Trout?

When fishing for trout, you only need to use a swivel if you’re trolling a lure that spins completely, such as an in-line spinner or spoon. For casting and retrieving, the lure won’t spin enough to cause a major line twist, so you do not need to use a lure.

Just like I’ve said before, I like to use as little tackle as possible because it’s going to add another break-off point. Connecting your main line to your leader directly is going to be way stronger than using a swivel, plus, you’ll have fewer things for the fish to see.

When trolling with a spinner or spoon, I always use a swivel. These lures can spin a lot, and if you don’t use a swivel, you could get some serious line twists and birds nests in your reel.

When trolling with a jerkbait or crankbait, you don’t need to use a swivel because they don’t spin. I also don’t use a swivel when I’m casting from shore or a boat (even with a spoon or spinner). You won’t be using that much line, so it’s pretty easy to get rid of any line twist that’s going on.

Jon Webber

I'm by no means an outdoors or fishing expert, but it's something I've been interested in for over 20 years. I created this site to test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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