Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Snap judgement

To allow quick and easy changing of lures, I use a clip or snap link on all but the smallest of lures.  The principal advantage of using a snap is that you can keep rotating your lures without retying knots. In theory they also give the lure the greatest amount of freedom to move, as some anglers believe that tying a line directly to the lure hinders its action.

Sometimes lure manufacturers will add a split ring to their lures, especially to small plugs.  This is really a poor man's snap, as tying directly to a split ring is asking for trouble.  Knots such as blood knots can "slip" easily around the square form of the ring and the ends of the split ring are often poorly finished and can be sharp.  If your knot slips round to the part of the split ring that has one of the two ends and rubs against it, for example when a fish is twisting and getting tangled up, then it can cut the line.

It's far better to take the split ring off the lure (if there is one) and replace it with the correctly sized snap.  I'll review a selection below, though please note I'm not saying these are the best snaps available; everyone has their favourites, but there are some designs that I really don't like and I'll give my reasons why.

There are basically three types of snap mechanism: simple hook, cross locks and wind ons.  You can also choose whether the snap is included as part of a swivel.  I personally never bother with swivels for the simple reason that they don't work under tension, which is when you need them to work!  If you don't believe me try tying a 200-500g weight on a short length of line, then a swivel, then another short length of line.  Hold the last length of line up, spin the weight and watch to see if top part of the swivel stays still while the bottom rotates.  It won't.  Swivels are pretty much pointless.

Snaps on the other hand, are useful.  They allow you to rapidly change your lure; if they fail in this one basic function, the snap is next useless in my opinion.  You may as well employ the Rapala knot or simple loop direct to the lure.  The strongest style of snap is definitely the cross lock style.  Unfortunately that strength comes at a price: cross locks tend to be the fiddiliest to attach to a lure.  Whichever you choose, beware of choosing a wire gauge that's too light for the style of fish you're after.  Stainless steel wire is strong, but if a fish gets tangled up it can put strain on a snap in directions they are not designed for and when that happens they quickly get bent out of shape and break.

First up on today's review is the bizarrely named Owner Cross Lock Snap Swivel in size #1.  Bizarrely named, as there is no swivel on this snap!
OK, it's a daft name, but it's a very strong snap, one of the strongest for its size I've come across.  It is can be a bit fiddly to attach, but it's bombproof once it's on.

Next up is Savage Gear's Egg Snap in medium.  This is a black-finished stainless steel egg snap in the style of the original Decoy Egg Snaps.  
Again this is a strong snap for its size.  However, it's not as well designed as the Owner model (see below, click photo to view text), and it's frankly a nightmare to attach to lures with cold hands in driving rain.  
The above shot shows the Owner snap open next to the Savage Gear.  Small differences make a difference here.  The Savage Gear snap when open remains "trapped" behind the wire of the clip.  In fact, on one I opened it actually clipped to the main wire of the inner loop and was difficult to get off.  You really don't need any extra hassle when you're fishing, so while the egg snap here is strong enough and a good size, it's just too awkward to attach for me to recommend it.  The Owner snap is much easier, but it'll never be as easy as the simple hook or wind on styles below:

The first snap on the right is the Owner cross link snap I included just to compare its heavier wire gauge.  The middle snap is a free one that was given away by Monster when you placed an order with them last year.  This particular one is a pretty typical, nasty, cheaply constructed snap that has failed on me numerous times and I don't recommend using this style of snap.  Both Quantum and Spro produce snaps in this style, as do Yo-Zuri.

Their biggest advantage is that they are the easiest style snap to open and change a lure.  The number 2 size by Yo-Zuri is about right for UK sea bass fishing, but the lighter wire ones can twist out of shape after a fish or two.  I once found a cheap one had opened by itself after a dozen casts!  Despite being the easiest to attach a lure to, I no longer use this style of snap as I just don't trust them.  Their overall strength and the hook that latches the snap isn't anything like as secure as a cross lock.

The final snap on the right in the group of snaps in the previous photo is the Delalande Agrafe Rapide Inox No. 6, as recommended by Henry Gilbey.  This is supposed to be the easiest style of snap to attach to a lure.  I personally don't like them, I find they're no easier than a standard snap to be honest, and I've again had this lure fail on me after a few fish, as you can see below:
A mangled Delande Agrafe Rapide No. 6 - bit lightweight if you're landing a lot of fish.
Luckily I saw the lure was behaving oddly in the water and retrieved it to check out what was wrong.  But you don't want this to happen to you in the middle of an amazing session when the fish are going mad.  I've decided to replace all my Delande snaps with stronger cross links - you may find you like the wind-on style, and in a heavier gauge than the No. 6 that Mr. Gilbey recommends they might be more reliable.

So there you have it.  Owner Cross Lock Snap Swivel #1 wins for me but only by a narrow margin.  

Though I'm generally a big fan of snaps there are some snaps out there that should be avoided.  Snaps are there to make life easier when it comes to changing lures.  They should never make your fishing more difficult, neither should they jeopardise catching a fish by threatening to break or twist out shape.  There's more than meets the eye to snap design, and I think Owner have clearly put some thought into their snaps.  Granted they're not the easiest to put on but they're still far easier than a knot, and I'd rather lose a little convenience in the knowledge that my snap was reliable.

Tight lines.


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