How to Tie a Swivel on Fishing Line

by Joe Steel
A securely attached swivel will help you land the big ones.

A securely attached swivel will help you land the big ones.

One of the most useful pieces of terminal tackle ever invented, the swivel keeps fishing line from twisting in rough conditions and makes changing out leaders and lures a snap -- particularly if it’s of the snap swivel variety. You can choose from a large universe of knots to secure the swivel to the end of the line, but two tested and worthy knots to use are the improved clinch knot, useful for panfish to salmon, and the offshore swivel knot, particularly prized when using heavier lines in pursuit of saltwater gamefish.

Improved Clinch Knot

  1. Grasp the end of the fishing line and pass it through the eye of the swivel.

  2. Form a loop with the line and hold it down with your thumb and forefinger.

  3. Wrap the end of the line around the main line five or six times.

  4. Pass the end of the line through the loop you made earlier, making a second, long loop in the line, but do not cinch the line tight yet.

  5. Bring the end of the line back through the second loop and pull the knot tight. Trim off any excess line.

Offshore Swivel Knot

  1. Form a loop at the end of the line and tie it off with a spider hitch knot. To make a spider hitch, double the line, form a loop and hold it with your thumb and forefinger. Wrap the doubled line around your thumb five or six times -- up to 15 times for braided line. Put the end through the loop and cinch it tight, allowing the loops on your thumb to slip onto the line. The result is a strong loop.

  2. Pass the loop through the eye of the swivel. Bring the end of the loop back past the eye of the swivel and hold it against the doubled line.

  3. Rotate the swivel through the loop six or seven times. Heavier line will require fewer pass-throughs, lighter monofilament more.

  4. Grasp the swivel and the line and pull tightly, pushing the twists down to the swivel eye, and cinch tightly. For heavier lines and swivels, grasping the swivel with a pair of pliers may prove useful.


  • Lubrication will help cinch both knots tight, and also prevents monofilament from being weakened by stretching. Saliva works well for this purpose.
  • You can add insurance that your clinch knot won't fail by tying a square knot in the end of the line before trimming off the excess line.
  • You can also use a Bimini twist knot to form the loop for your offshore swivel knot.

About the Author

Joe Steel is a Northwest-based editor, writer and novelist, former news editor of an outdoor weekly. He also was an editor at a Seattle-based political weekly and editor of a monthly business magazine. He has been published in the "Seattle Times," the "Washington Post" and the "Foreign Service Journal," among other publications.

Photo Credits

  • Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images