What Size Swivel for Trout? Expert Recommendations

Swivels are very useful in trout fishing for one main reason – they prevent line twist. They are very useful when fishing with lures that tend to impart twist on …

Swivels are very useful in trout fishing for one main reason – they prevent line twist.

They are very useful when fishing with lures that tend to impart twist on the line, and they can also be used to construct different rigs for trout, such as the Carolina rig and running sinker rigs.

What Are Fishing Swivels?

A fishing swivel joins two lines or a lure to a fishing line. It has two rings and a rotating barrel, which may contain a ball bearing.

A fishing swivel is a small brass or stainless steel component used in fishing to join two pieces of line or to join a lure to a fishing line (snap swivel).

The swivel is made up of two rings that are joined together by a rotating barrel. If the barrel has a ball bearing inside, it is called a ball bearing swivel.

There are also three-way swivels that are useful for constructing rigs with droppers.

How Do You Use a Swivel for Trout Fishing?

What is a Trout Grand Slam Feature Image
In trout fishing, swivels are commonly used to attach lures like blades, spoons, and spinners that would otherwise twist the line.

The most common use for a swivel in trout fishing is to attach a lure to your line. Using a swivel (snap swivels are best here) allows you to use lures that would otherwise put a lot of twists in the line, such as blades, spoons, and some spinners.

The other usage is to construct various rigs such as the Carolina Rig or a Float Fishing Rig, where the swivel again is used to stop line twist but also to act as a stopper as well in some cases, such as the Carolina rig where it prevents the weight from sliding right down on to the bait. Some anglers also use a swivel at the top end of a drop shot rig too.

What Size Swivel Do You Use for Trout?

Swivel sizes operate the same as hook sizes. For small swivels, the sizes are arranged by number with a hashtag in front. A #14 is a small swivel, and a #12 is slightly larger. This system goes right up to #1, which is a swivel about 18mm long, so still quite small.

Larger swivels go by the “aught” system and start at 1/0 (20mm) and go through to 5/0 or even bigger.

Swivel Size Chart (And Strength Capacity)

See the chart below for the lengths and strength capacity of the various size swivels.

Swivel Size Chart
Swivel Size Chart

What Size Swivel is Best for Trout?

Trout lures are usually light, and anglers fishing for trout are typically using a 6lb test line (sometimes 4lb or 8lb, depending on the size of the trout they are targeting).

For this reason, it is best to use smaller-size swivels for trout fishing: anything from a size #14 swivel to a #10 swivel is suitable for trout fishing purposes.

If you are using snap swivels – which is what you will be using with lures – it is best to go the smallest possible as the snap itself adds more weight and length to the swivel.

Types of Swivels: Ball Bearing Swivels vs Barrel Swivels

Both a barrel swivel and a ball bearing swivel perform the same function, but a ball bearing swivel is slightly more effective.

Having a ball bearing inside the joint of the swivel reduces friction and enables the swivel to spin more easily, making it more effective at preventing line twists.

The flipside to it is that ball bearing swivels are more expensive than the standard barrel swivel.

In many cases, barrel swivels are effective enough to prevent fishing line twists and tangles and will save you a few dollars.

Trout Fishing Swivel FAQs

Do Swivels Scare Trout?

The addition of a swivel can make a lure look a little different and can add an opaque element into a rig that’s otherwise made up of transparent and light line.

So, yes, there is that possibility that using a swivel in clear water while trout fishing does spook a fish.

But we try to manage that risk by choosing the right size swivel for trout fishing.

When Should I Use a Swivel Trout Fishing?

Any time you are worried about line twist. Rotating lures such as spinners and spinnerbaits can really add twists to your line that end up creating tangles, so these are best fished with a snap swivel.

Trolling is another time a swivel is an absolute must to prevent line twist.

Swivel are also really useful for rigs where a stopper is needed, or there are concerns about the rig rotating on retrieve and adding twists to the line.

Another time to use a snap swivel is when you are fishing in a situation where you need to change lures a lot – such as fishing varying tides or areas where you need to cover different depths.

Are There Disadvantages to Using a Fishing Swivel?

Not really, other than the fact that it can subtly change the look and weight of a lure, but as stated earlier, we address that by using the right-sized fishing swivel.

It is one more component in a rig that can fail, but for trout fishing, you are using a light line, so the mono or fluoro fishing line will fail before the swivel does.

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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