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Snap To It: A Tackle Rat’s Guide to Snap Locks
  |  First Published: March 2009



This month I’m moving further up the chain of terminal tackle and focusing on those little wonders of convenience – the snap lock.

The snap lock is virtually an essential tool for those days out on the water where finding the right lure for the job involves a simple case of ‘trial and error’. There’s nothing worse than having to stop fishing in the middle of a hot bite so that you can struggle with a loop knot as you tie on another leader. It’s far easier to just clip off the old lure and clip on a new one.

However, just how much can you really trust that extravagant little tangle of metal that holds you to your expensive lure and, maybe to a trophy capture? Well, the following is an informative guide that should give you a fair idea of which snap will work for you.

Wilson Coastlock Snap

The Wilson Coastlock is the original basic snap that is one of the most popular designs on the market. It is a simple round loop of metal that has a small hook on one end, allowing it hook over the other side of the loop, thus closing it.

At between $2 and $4 for a packet of ten, they are relatively inexpensive and are ideal for basic lure fishing in creeks and streams. The design itself is strong, especially in the thicker gages (size 5 is rated to 130lb), and its simple method of opening and closing means that in poor light, you’re not stuck puzzling over an intricate system.

On the downside, the simple design does make the clip susceptible to coming open prematurely and the cheaper materials do wear out after fairly minimal use. The other flaw lies in the fact that excessive forward pressure (coupled with heavy braids and drag) can cause the snap to pull straight and come undone or jam in place.

Pro: Cheap and simple.

Con: Susceptible to straightening and coming open.

Black Magic Rolling Snap Swivel

This one’s a useful middle ranged snap that has the added advantage of an attached rolling swivel, making it ideally suited to blue water luring and trolling.

When working streamlined lures like metal slices, spoons and jigs the issue of line twist can be easily dealt with by using a swivel integrated in your snap. The lighter nature and low recommended breaking strain of these clips (20kg for 1” long clip) further lends them to chasing pelagics with lighter lines and lighter drag settings.

Material wise, the New Zealand company, Black Magic is known for its quality and durability, so a reasonably priced $9.95 approx. pack of 20 snaps should last until they are claimed by ‘the ones that got away’.

The design of these snaps is similar to the Coastlock, but with a male ‘peg’ to female ‘loop’ hooking system that makes for easy opening and closing. Like the Coastlock, however, the design is susceptible to downward pressure from fish and will straighten if you use heavier gear.

Pro: Ideal for blue water spin and trolling.

Con: Low breaking strain limits versatility.

Decoy Egg Snap

This snap uses a ‘crosslock’ system to add extra strength while reducing the size of the snap.

Basically, the crosslock is like the Coastlock snap but instead of the hook snapping over the straight length of the loop, the hook is cross-locked behind a tight corresponding loop at the rear of the snap. This means that when forward pressure is applied by a fish or snag the hook is held against the strong rear loop rather than being able to slide forwards.

The advantage of this hook is that the size five Egg Snap has only a 10lb lighter breaking strain (120lb) than the size five Coastlock (130lb), yet is around a third of the size. Practically speaking, this is a huge benefit for light gear anglers who are doing everything possible to downsize their tackle in order to fool the smarter fish of the day.

They aren’t a cheap snap, though the price is still reasonable; you’re looking at around $6.00 for a pack of seven.

Pro: Smaller and lighter, yet strong and effective.

Con: The small size and tight nature of the snap makes for frustrating operation.

Yo-Zuri Hawaiian Hook

Effectively, this is a loop shaped split ring that has pointed ends and a thicker gauge to allow anglers to open the loop and insert the tow point of a lure without a pair of split ring pliers. The design is strong (size five is rated at 51kg) and is almost impossible to straighten or open with downward pressure, due to the circular nature of the snap.

The Hawaiian’s two main faults lie in the fact that after repeated usage, the two layers of the loop start to pull apart, which seriously affects their durability, and secondly, at around $9.95 for a pack of just three snaps they are very hard to justify for even the most diehard angler.

Size wise, they are average and the operation is easy enough, but not as quick as other snaps.

Pro: The circular design makes them almost impossible to straighten.

Con: The high price is hard to justify.

Norman Lures Speed Clip

This North American made snap is a maverick invention that is a culmination of the speed of the Coastlock and the strength of a split ring.

Its design is simply a split ring connected to torsion arms that are pinched to open the ring. Without the need to manually force the ring open, this design avoids the warping that plagues the Hawaiian design, yet still has the round nature, making it resistant to straightening.

The biggest drawcard is the speed, as it is as simple as pinching and sliding, without having to manipulate any appendages into place. This clip is pricey at around $8.50 for five, but due to their stainless steel material and the fact that they’re made in the USA they should last and last.

Pro: Fast, durable and tough

Con: Still susceptible to the downward pressure of a fish’s jaw

The Wrap Up

These are just a few of the main snaps on the market and all have their effective niches. A few other variations that are worth mentioning are the cheap bronze and wire Surecatch clips that are usually the cheapest on the shelf. These are great for the kids but in my opinion should be avoided by serious anglers.

The other mentionable snap is a North Queensland hand-made snap called the Pigtail Snap. This simple but effective design is made from basic nickel plated alloy and has a pig’s tail shaped section feeding onto a small loop. These snaps are easy to operate and can’t be forced open by downward pressure or straightening, making them great for the dirty fighting fish of Northern Australia. Unfortunately, they are available in only a handful of shops up the Queensland coast (Nashy’s Complete Angler in Mackay or Nugget’s Tackle Shack in Ingham).

All in all, there’s nothing worse than losing a fish due to equipment failure, so take your time and consult your local tackle salesperson to find the snap that’s right for your individual fishing scenario.

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