Now, what are fish tapes? Fish tapes are commonly known as “draw wires” or “electrician’s snake”. It is a very popular tool among engineers and electricians to draw wires through walls, floors, or electrical conduits.
Pulling off the wire through the narrow spaces is difficult. And when the length of that narrow space becomes significant, it becomes a really tough job. That’s where the fish tapes come in.
Fish Tapes are made in such a way to be guided through inside these narrow spaces as example, wall cavities. From the look of it, the name Fish Tape might seem confusing.
They call it Fish ‘Tape’, but it doesn’t look like tape at all. And for that fish part, I don’t know how they came up with that. But that is none of our concern.
We just have to know why we need a fish tape and among the thousands of fish tape on the market, which one would be the best for us.
This article provides you a brief yet rich buying guide of fish tape. Later, five of the best fish tapes on the market are mentioned. You will find a small guideline for using fish tape at the end of the article. Let’s scroll!
Best Fish Tape Buying Guide
There are several important points to look for before buying a perfect fish tape. Here are the most important points you must consider.
What Length is Good for Fish Tape?
The length is the first thing to emphasize before buying a fish tape. For domestic works, fish tape with medium length will suit you the most.
But for industrial and professional work, you will need a bigger length.
Remember to always buy a longer length that you will actually need. It will give you the option to spare a few more length whenever you need.
However, bigger fish tapes will be heavy and difficult to control. So, keep a note on that.
How Durable the Tool Would Be?
It defines the lifetime of your tool. Of course, you want to buy a tool with a higher lifetime. You will want your fish tape to be heavy duty and long lasting with good performance.
The tape should be flexible and should be bent at all angles without breaking.
Don’t waste your time and money on some cheap model so that you don’t end up buying a new one every month. Spend a few more bucks, choose a good model and stick to it.
Which Is Better Steel or Fiberglass Fish Tape?
The fish tapes are commonly made of three types of materials i.e. steel, nylon, fiberglass.
All of them have their own advantages and disadvantages. For example –
The steel ones are rigid, sturdy, and more durable than the other two. But also they are bulkier and heavier.
The nylon ones are lighter indeed, but they are not that durable. Similarly, fiberglass types have their own pros and cons.
Find out which one has the features according to your work and choose any of them. This article can help you out in that case.
How to Use a Fish Tape?
Using a fish tape is definitely not a tough job. Usually, every fish tape box comes with an instruction manual. Let’s forget about that. Here is the simplest tutorial on how you will use fish tape.
On the basis of shape, fish types are of two kinds. One of them has around box where the tapes are kept. The round box is often known as the wheel housing.
If you look closely, you will find a button or trigger near the wheel housing. Once you pressed that, it will release the belt of tape to allow you to pull it off the housing wheel. The tapes are then ready to serve through the conduits.
To pull the roll of tape back, grab the center of the wheel with one hand and turn the handle. You will see the tapes getting dragged into the wheel.
For the rod type of fish tapes, the use is easier. Every rod has a male port and a female port.
To add another rod with the one on your hand, connect the female port of the new one with the male part of the old one or vice versa. Multiple rods can be attached together to form a long hollow path for the wire.
However, for the rod types, make sure you don’t bend the joints more than they are capable of. You don’t want to end up breaking the tape.
Best Fish Tapes Review
Finding the best fish tape might seem a very hard task to do. Once you are in the market, you will find hundreds of different models each claiming to be the best in the business. So which one would you choose?
Which one will fill all your requirements to keep your wallet healthy? Don’t worry, we got that covered for you.
We have researched and found the best five fish tapes currently available on the market. Read through every one of them and choose the one that intrigues you the most.
1. Gardner Bender EFT-15 Mini Cable Snake
The Gardner Bender EFT-15 is an ultra-compact, rugged 15 ft. steel fish tape that will get most of your job done.
The construction is sturdy enough to cope with all kinds of working environments. The rigid design provides you all the durability you will need.
It has a special low memory steel tape marked in the metric system. The metric system is useful as it provides a better understandability in measuring the required wire length.
The construction prevents the tape from curling during extension. The tape is manually retractable. This solves the problem of any unwanted snapback that is found in other fish tapes.
This fish tape is useful when you need to feed under carpets or over drop ceilings and down walls. It is perfect for common electrical uses like a home network, cable or speaker installments.
To talk about the pros and cons, the cons are minor compared to the rich number of pros. The tape has a grooved knob, a belt clip, and a flat eyelet tip. The flat tip is designed to go through tightly connected cables.
The grooved knob lets your fingers fit deep into the tape and allows easy retractability.
One thing to worry about this tool is the length of it. You can’t use the tape for a length of more than 15 ft. But this will cover most of the domestic works with ease.Check on Amazon
2. Klein Tools 56005
For works that need short wire runs under carpeting, through insulation or suspended ceilings, Klein Tools 56005 is a perfect choice. The tool is a 25 ft. steel fish tape having a flat, plastic slotted tip. This special design of the tip resists snagging and easily accepts wire attachment.
The tape has laser etched marking that helps to measure the depth of conduit runs. The tool provides great stability as it glides between the surfaces. The gliding provides effective pushing and pulling through the conduit.
The tool didn’t compromise for its build quality. It is made of high-quality spring steel. The polypropylene case and the handle offers maximum impact resistance. The inside of the tool is designed to provide full grip allowing a firm and steady grip to pull tape from the case.
This tool is useful for engineers, electricians, craftsmen, etc. The versatile design and low price make it one of the most common tools in their toolbox.
Talking about the pros, the tool has a permanent laser etched 1 ft. increment on it. So there is no risk of the marks getting washed out. Another important feature of this tool is that it determines the amount of tape left to payout.
One minor con about this tool is that the increment numbers on the tape are small and might seem very difficult to read.Check on Amazon
3. Southwire Tools Simple Electrical Fish Tape
If you want a fish tape that will serve the purpose and also have to be filled with innovations and technology, there is no other option than this one.
The tape is made of non-conductive polymer. It is rust free and provides you a low coefficient of friction. So they are easier to pull through the case and the conduit.
The polymer-type fish tape allows effortless and faster gliding than the steel and fiberglass types. Also, it provides extreme flexibility and they are virtually unbreakable.
These fish tapes come in two different leader types. One of them is a swiveling flexible metal leader that easily glides through the conduits. The other is a conductive glow in the dark type. It glows in the dark and useful for easy installation over existing wires.
The tape has very few points to complain about. About the length, you can’t ask for more as it gives you the liberty of using a massive range of 75 ft. The glow in the dark leader lets you use it in the dark. The braiding and thicker cable keep the tape from getting stuck in small edges.
However, one of the downsides of this tape is that it is sometimes a bit harder to force through certain areas. Also, there is no laser etched marking on the tape. So there is a high chance the markings might fade away.Check on Amazon
4. Tie-Wire Reel 27400
To comply with every working condition, your tool needs to be sturdy yet lightweight so that it doesn’t bother you to carry. The tie wire reel from Klein fulfills all these conditions and provides you the best of services you can expect from a fish tape.
The reel of the tape is made from light-weight aluminum alloy. To provide it sufficient integrity, the wear parts are made of steel. The subtle finishing on the reel feels smooth on hands and keeps your palm safe while pulling it out from the tape.
It feeds pre-coiled wire quickly with ease. It saves you precious time and reduces the amount of wasted wire. The cover plate can be easily removed to permit you quick and convenient reloading to all types of wires.
One of the significant features of the tool is that both left-handed and right-handed people can use it. It has a large and comfortable rewind knob to pull the tape back into the box.
This wire reel fits all types of wiring and construction works. For new installations or during maintenance, this tool can serve all the purposes.
There are several pros to talk about this fish tape. It has a rugged design to provide the highest of the durability. The wire is long enough to fulfill all the commercial and daily works. The design is attractive enough to satisfy your aesthetic mind.Check on Amazon
5. Ram-Pro 33-Feet Fiberglass Fish Tape
This fiberglass fish tape from Ram Pro is definitely one of the most flexible fish tapes in the market in terms of length.
It comes with a set of 10 rods each of 1 meter of length providing a working length of 10 meters in total. However, there are options for more than that. You just have to buy a few more rods.
The tape is a nonconductive fiberglass type. The rods have solid brass connectors and high quality hook ends. The bendable acrylic extension helps to connect the wire end more conveniently.
The rod shafts are yellow in color to increase visibility. Each rod has male and female ports where another rod is connected. Multiple rods get connected one by one and the length gets increased.
This fish tape is useful for all electricians, builders, construction workers, cable workers etcetera. It is popular among the crafters, DIY enthusiasts as well. The versatile uses of this fish tape simply made it one of the best contenders in the market.
Let’s talk about a few pros that this tool offers. It has a plastic tube holder as a storage case. The nonconductive material made sure that you don’t get an electrical shock while working with it.
However, this falls behind the other fish tapes when it’s come to access the tight corners as the joints don’t offer too many angles.Check on Amazon
Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers.
What Is Fish Tape Used For?
A fish tape (also known as a draw wire or draw tape or an “electricians snake”) is a tool used by electricians to route new wiring through walls and electrical conduit.
What Can I Use Instead of Fish Tape?
Rigid Cable – If you have a large cable on hand, you might be able to use it as fishing tape. You will need to make sure to cover the end with a piece of cloth or plastic to prevent it from catching. Plastic Tubing – If you have a piece of plastic tubing on site, it can be a good alternative.
What Is Fiberglass Fish Tape Used For?
Fiberglass Fish Tapes
measure the depth of conduit runs and determine the amount of tape left to pay out. Designed for flexibility and easy navigation through conduit runs.
What Is the Best Fish Tape?
Best Fiberglass Fish Tape: Southwire SIMpull non-conductive fish tape (see the video) $42.95.
Best Steel Fish Tape: Klein stainless steel fish tape $88.35.
How Do You Fish Wire Through Walls Without Fish Tape?
What Do You Do When Fish Tape Gets Stuck?
One tip on getting it unstuck, If you have some left coil it up and use the coil to rotate the fish tape. Flip it around a half dozen times and see if that helps get it unstuck. Sometimes you do have to sacrifice a fish tape. I’ve never had any trouble cutting them with my linesman pliers.
How Do You Secure Wire to Fish Tape?
How Do You Use Fish Tape?
Twist a strand around all of the wires attached and wrap the whole head of the wire connection with electrical tape. Adding wire-pulling lubricant makes the pull much easier. When a job calls for large wire in a conduit, electricians may use a fish tape to pull in a rope, then use the rope for the wire pull.
How Do You Make Fish Tape?
How to Make Fish Tape With Tools
Which Is Better Steel or Fiberglass Fish Tape?
“Steel tapes are selected for durability and tensile strength,” said John Payne, product director at Southwire Tools. “Fiberglass fish tapes are used for their nonconductive value. Southwire has only been in the fish tape market for three years, so our entire product line could be considered a significant change.
That’s it. Now you know almost everything you need to know about fish tapes. You know what a fish tape is, how do they look and how do they work. Also, you got introduced to five of the finest fish tapes in the market.
Now when you are going to buy one, double check the features you need the most. Read the manual carefully before using it. And always remember that you are dealing with electricity. Stay cautious, stay safe.
You may also like to read other essential electricians tools like the