The 8 Best Fish Tapes in 2019

Pulling your cables and electrical wires can be challenging, especially if you do not have a quality fish tape. And every professional knows how a poor quality tool can ruin your job, and electrical projects are not an exception. So if you are a professional electrician who probably has been experiencing challenges fishing your cable and wires on attics, conduits, walls, and floors, well, it could be the high time you invested in a quality fish tape.

Though the market may offer you different brands to choose from, not every tape will deliver exceptional performance. Some will break or get jammed along your wire way, which may consume much of your time and probably interfere with your project completion time. This can suck at times when you are working around the clock to get your client's project completed, and your electrical snake can’t give you peace of mind. To assist you in identifying the best fish tape for your project, we have compiled a list of quality brands that have stood out from the competition. There is more, and we can’t wait to give you the lowdown. Read on to identify your preferred tape.

Best Pick

Klein Tools 56001 Fish Tape

Klein Tools 56001 Fish Tape has stood out from other brands and is our best pick. The 50ft long tape is designed with superior quality steel to help you fish heavy-duty wires. Its fingertips are raised to offer you full winding power of your hand and fingers. Its markings are laser etched with 1ft increments which improve your accuracy and helps you determine the amount of wire left. Its handle and polypropylene housing offer optimal impact resistant, keeping your tape safe inside while minimizing any chances of injury.

Budget Pick

Gardner Bender EFT-15 Mini Cable Snake

Gardner Bender EFT-15 Mini Cable Snake is the best fish tape for the money. The tape is designed using steel material with a compact and rugged design for easy portability and storage. Unlike most steel tapes which curl when extended, this tape has a low memory which prevents curls and makes it ideal for use on no-conduit applications. Its casing is durable and robust with high impact resistance. Its grooved knob prevents any snap back while delivering exceptional performance.

Quick Comparison: Top 8 Best Fish Tapes


1. Klein Tools 56001 Fish Tape

Highlighted Features

  • Premium quality
  • Handy
  • Laser etched marks
  • Maximum hand grip
  • Ideal for heavy-duty wire pulls
  • Nipple shaped
  • Shock and impact resistant polypropylene case
  • Convenient
  • 50foot steel

Pulling heavy duty wires requires a strong fish tape which can withstand the pressure, and that’s what you get with this Klein fish tape. The tool features a steel construction which makes it sturdy and robust enough to pull your wires effectively without calling for much strain.

With this fish tape, you can easily calculate the depth of your conduit with the help of etched laser markings. To prevent any time-consuming calculations the tape marking feature an increment of 1” which is pretty simple to calculate.

Its handle and polypropylene case are designed to withstand high impact, so you do not have to worry about moving it around the job site. The handle features a unique sloping design for maximum hand position and quick rewinds. The fish tape is an excellent pick for anyone who may be looking for the best fish tape for short wire runs on less demanding commercial, voice-data-video-audio installations and residential electrical projects.


2. Gardner Bender EFT-15 Mini Cable Snake

Highlighted Features

  • Affordable
  • Prevents snapback
  • Compact
  • 15ft long
  • Rugged steel design
  • Break-resistant casing
  • Measurements system in metrics
  • Handy

Unlike most fish tapes which are prone to curling during extension, this Gardener Bender mini cable snake will not. The tape boasts of its low memory which enables you to pull your non-conduits with ease without curling. Its eyelet tip features a flat design which enables you to tightly connect your tape with your cable without calling for any additional materials while preventing your tape from scratching surfaces when pulling your cables.

Its compact and rugged design makes it tough to withstand the pressure of pulling while offering you convenience during storage and transportation. Its groove knob is perfectly designed to fit your fingers for an easy drawback of your tape. The tape is designed to be retracted manually, which helps prevent any unnecessary snapbacks.

Gardner Bender EFT-15 snake is an excellent pick for anyone who may be looking for a quality fish tape for short runs inside ceilings and walls. The tape is also recommended for installing electrical wires for data communication and security systems, doorbells, light fixtures, outlets, audio, and electrical sockets.

Its case is designed to withstand job site misuse without breaking, a great feature which gives you confidence when working on your projects. The price is also right, which gives you the freedom to own one without breaking the bank.

3. Pit Bull 50 FT Fish Tape

Highlighted Features

  • 1/8'' W x 1/16'' thick
  • Flexible steel design
  • High impact casing
  • 50ft long
  • Handy
  • Durable handle
  • Comfy grip
  • Accommodates excess tape

A poorly designed fish tape can cause agony on your forearm. But with this Pit Bull tape, you can enjoy a comfy grip while reducing your forearm strain. The tape boasts of its flexible steel design which facilitates easy pulling of your wires and cables through pipes, drywall, and conduits.

The fish tape has a durable handle and its reel winds up to accommodate excess tape, which makes it the best 50ft fish tape in the market. On its end is a pulling loop which facilitates secure attachments of your wires with the tape. Its length is good enough for pulling your communications and electrical cables. Taking advantage of this tape will enable you to fish your wires and cables in a cinch.

4. HORUSDY Electrical Fish Tape

Highlighted Features

  • 3/16” fiberglass rod
  • Handy
  • Plastic storage case included
  • Convenient
  • Affordable
  • Flexible but extreme bending can break them

Horusdy fish tape boasts of its unique design which makes electrical wire fishing fun and enjoyable. The package comes with non-conduit fiberglass rods which are designed to be joined together to lengthen them to suit your wire fishing needs.

Included in the kit are 10 rods of 39” with screwed brass connectors, a brass hook end for easy wire pulling, 6.5” acrylic connection which is flexible enough for setting on any angle, and a brass eye end for pushing. The fish tape kit can be extended up to 33ft and is a great pick for fishing your wires through attics, walls, subfloors, crawl spaces, and for cable installation.


5. Katzo Electrical Fish Tape Reel

Highlighted Features

  • Durable
  • Convenient
  • Compact
  • Reliable
  • Portable
  • Shock resistant handle and housing
  • Accurate
  • 50 feet long

This Katzo electrical fish tape is professionally designed to facilitate easy fishing of your wires with high accuracy levels. It is created using high-quality steel to withstand any job site misuse without breaking. Its compact size allows you to move your tape with ease through the job site and also fits perfectly well in your tool bag. At 50feet, this fish tape is long enough to facilitate easy reach for most of your fishing projects.  

Inside is a ring which facilitates easy pulling of your wires, enabling you to manage even the most time-critical jobs faster. Its plastic housing features a heavy-duty design which offers maximum protection in your electric reel. Its inbuilt thumb lock holds your wires in place each time. Its handle is durable with a comfy grip for reducing your forearm fatigue levels.

The tape recoils perfectly well and winds- up making its storage easy. Taking advantage of this fish tape will enable you to fish your electrical wires through conduits, dry walls, pipes and carry out installations with ease.

6. Uxcell Electrical Fish Tape

Highlighted Features

  • Flexible
  • 0.7" by 0.3" metal connector dimensions
  • Handy
  • 25ft long
  • Ideal for fishing cables through occupied duct and panel boxes
  • Convenient

Fishing your wires on occupied ducts and panel boxes can be tricky, but with this Uxcell tape, you can enjoy a flawless pulling. The 25feet tape features eyelet, interchangeable terminals, and flexible metal leader, which make your wire fishing a breeze.

Its flexible design enables you to bend it to conform to the desired shape, which makes your work easier. In addition to its exceptional performance, the price is also right, which gives you the freedom to make your life easy. With this electrical wire threader, you can say goodbye to electrical wire fishing woes.

7. Southwire Tools & Equipment FTSP3-100NCT Simpull Electrical Fish Tape

Highlighted Features

  • 100ft
  • Virtually unbreakable and kink resistant
  • Incredibly flexible
  • Effective
  • Handy
  • Rust resistant
  • Ideal for light jobs
  • Reliable

If the best fish tape for conduit is what you are searching for, then look no further than this Southwire FTSP3-100NCT series. Southwire has gone far and beyond to design an exceptionally durable and effective fish tape. Due to its hard work in offering superior quality products, the company won the Pro Tool innovation award winner in 2016 and continues to stand out from the competition.

Handling your rewiring projects has just got better as this fish tape surpasses its peers and allows for easy installation of your wires over existing ones. The tape is constructed with a non-conductive material which is friction resistant, enabling smooth glide through your conduits much faster than fiberglass and steel materials.

Unlike most standard models which are susceptible to snapping, this fish tape is kink and break resistant, which makes it stand out from the competition. Though it is slightly pricy, it is worth every penny.

8. Greenlee FTS438DL-250 Steel Fish Tape

Highlighted Features

  • Handy
  • 250ft long
  • Accurate
  • Saves time
  • Rugged housing
  • Laser etched meter and feet measuring system
  • Durable
  • Reliable

This Greenlee FT438DL fish tape is designed to enable you to reach far when fishing your wires. The tape features a 250ft laser-etched tape which facilitates easy measurements with high accuracy levels. Better still; the tape enables you to keep track of how far you have fished.

Its measurements system is in meters and feet, which make it easy to determine how far you’ve fished without guesswork. Its rugged design gives the tape high strength to withstand the pressure without breaking. Adding this fish tape to your toolbox will save you time and offer you convenience. Through the viewing spots, you can easily keep track of the remaining tape, making your fishing projects even more enjoyable.


Factors to Consider When Buying a Fish Tape

Material

Fish tapes are constructed with different materials with the most common ones being plastic, fiberglass, and steel. Plastic fish tapes are affordable and non-conductive. However, they are not strong enough to handle heavy-duty fishing but are ideal for light jobs.

 Fiberglass fish tapes are flexible like plastic, though slightly stronger. They are also non-conductive just like plastics but somewhat pricey. They are great for medium jobs which are not that demanding. When using a fiberglass model, you will be required to use gloves.

Steel fish tapes, on the other hand, are strong which makes them ideal for use on heavy duty fishing. Due to their conductive nature, they are recommended for use on empty conduits.

Length

The length of your fish tape will determine how far you can pull your wires. Longer lengths will enable you to reach far distances a feature which helps you save time and conquer demanding projects with ease. Consider buying a model with 15ft and above depending on your preferences.

Handle design

Fishing electrical wires and cables can be hand breaking, especially if the handle is not professionally designed. In most case, your forearm gets strained a lot and may impact your productivity levels.

To save yourself from this agony, you need to go for ergonomically designed handles that offer you a comfy grip. The handle should also provide enough room for your hand for maximum gripping power.

Measurement system

Each tape will feature a different measurement system with the most common ones being in meters, inches, or feet. Some models may have more than one measurement system to enable you to calculate your lengths pretty much faster. To ease yourself from the hassle of going through all the hectic calculations, consider choosing a tape with a small increment.

Housing

Fish tapes come rolled inside a casing for easy portability and storage convenience. The housing also keeps your tape safe inside and facilitates easy pulling. A good quality fish tape casing should be robust with high impact resistance to withstand job site misuse.

Cost

Some fish tape models will cost higher than others based on the quality, material, and, length, among others. While you may be looking forward to buying a good quality model, you should be ready to pay more.

Going for low-quality tape will impact on its performance and durability hence calling for costly replacements.

Warranty

Most people make purchases without even checking out whether the product is covered or not only to be disappointed with the terms. Some manufacturers may also restrict their warranty in particular countries, which can be a challenge. Always check out if your manufacturer has a guarantee and the terms to avoid any frustrations.

How to use a fish tape properly

Fish tapes are a great way of fishing your wires faster and conveniently without the need to demolish the entire structure. However, knowing how to use them appropriately will help you get the best from your tape without having to encounter challenges while improving your productivity altogether. And below are some tips we found useful.

Use the right electrical snake

Most novice users encounter challenges when fishing their wires merely because they are relying on the wrong tool. Not every electrical snake out there is designed for all your fishing projects. Some may restrict you depending on where you are using them, which makes it even harder to get the job done.

One of the essential steps to getting the best out of your fish tape is choosing the right model. For areas which are wet or near live circuits, consider using fiberglass instead of steel model as they are rust resistant. 

Take precaution

Regardless of the fish tape material you are using, make sure you wear heavy duty gloves to prevent any burrs or sharp ends from cutting your hands. In case you are rewiring, and the conduit you are fishing your wires has wires, consider disconnecting the power before running your tape.

Fold your tape end

Leaving your snake end can gash you or your loved ones. To prevent any mishaps, bend the exposed end with a plier at 180 degrees and then crimp it to make sure the sharp end is no longer exposed.

The loop facilitates smooth sliding of your snake through conduits, ceilings, subfloors and walls which offers a secure place to tie your wires.

Lubricate your tape

Apply a wire lubricate a few inches to help facilitate easy sliding along the wire way.  

Mark the length you intend to cover

Fishing, especially on attics can be tricky as your tape may go to an unexpected place or hit an obstacle along the way. Marking the length that you intend to fish with masking tape will help you trace any issues faster and minimize any chances of putting kinks on your snake, which may make your fishing hard.

Keep your tape in good physical shape

Running your tape through conduits, attic, and subfloors can cause dirt to accumulate on the surface, which causes dust to accumulate, making your fishing difficult. After using your tape, wash it with warm water and mild detergent.

Before using your tape, inspect it for any signs of cracks, rust or other types of wear as this may cause it to break during the fishing process making it even more challenging to pull your wires.

How to fix your fish tape

From time to time, you may encounter challenges when fishing your wires. Knowing how to fix your fish tape will help you save time.

Tape gets jammed

This is a common challenge, especially with steel fish tapes. To fix the problem, you will need to open the housing and loosen the screws and untangle the tape. Unknot the groove positioned at the edge of the handing area.

Using a plier, crimp the tape end tightly onto the connection point. Put back half piece of the housing and let your tape flow back freely into the reel. To prevent the tape from getting jammed, consider applying a wire lubricant on the tip.

In case you do not have a wire lubricant, applying petroleum jelly can also help reduce friction.

Tape breaks during operation

Your tape eyelets may break during operation, but this shouldn't be a big deal. All you need is a new eyelet, ratcheting tool and glue. Replace the eyelet onto the remaining rod to make your tape operational.

Things to avoid when handling fish tapes

  • Avoid using fish tapes without taking precautionary measures. Before fishing your wires, make sure you have put on safety glasses, non-skid shoes and heavy-duty gloves. Stand on safe ground and avoid working on wet or slippery ground
  • Never unscrew your housing when the tape is still inside as it may cause injury. Pull it out for as far as it can go.
  • Never use your fish tape for other purposes other than the recommended ones by your manufacturer. Read your manufacturers guide to avoid causing accidents that could have been avoided.
  • Never use your steel tape on live wires as it may cause electric shock or even death. In case of any live wires, put off the power and consider fishing during the day when there is enough light
  • Avoid using excessive force when fishing or when your cable gets jammed along the wire way. Instead consider removing your tape, clear any obstructions and apply more lubricant for a smooth and easy glide.

Final Verdict

Fishing cables and electrical wires through finished walls, attic, and floors can be challenging, but with the best fish tape, you can easily navigate through these surfaces with ease. The tools are reliable, convenient, and easy to use and eliminate any need for damaging your structure, which saves you on costly repairs. However, not every model is recommended for use on all jobs. Some may limit you on areas where you can fish which require you to be extra vigilant when making choices. But with the help of our guide, you can quickly identify your preferred model. All the brands featured in this piece are ideal for your fishing project if chosen correctly.
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