Man’s are always in search of a way that makes every process more perfect and safe. Fish tape upholds the electrical wiring process up to one more level. wiring through a conduit or narrow space is no more a harder process for using this tool.
They have a strong and durable tape, different features and ability to work good in a tough condition that makes this tool an important one for every wiring work inside the home. In this article, you will be introduced with some of the best Fish tape, their features and using procedure etc.
What is a Fish Tape?
Fish tape, that is also known as “draw wire” or “electrician’s snake”, is an important tool mostly used by the electricians or normal user to pull off wire through walls, electrical conduit, subfloors etc. In most cases pulling off the wire from these places is hard for the narrow spaces and thin wires that make the situation to unable to reach the wire.
Fish Tape is made in such a way to be guided through inside these narrow spaces as an example, wall cavities. Fish tape can be different types according to the material that is used to make it. They are nylon Fish Tape, Steel Fish Tape, and Fiberglass Fish Tape. All the Fish tape has a natural curvature at the end that will allow you to guide the wire through any narrow or tight spaces easily.
It is a long, flat and thin steel wire wound up inside a round-shaped wheel with a handle. Fish Tape is a very handy and flexible tool as this can be used for pulling off wires inside an electrical wiring pipe or putting wires from one portion to another through the pipe.
What is Steel Fish Tape Used for?
Among the 3 kinds of fish tape, Steel made fish tape are more popular and easy to use. They are made of spring steel that is very strong for heavy work at the same time can be bend easily without breaking it. They are flexible to make any angle for different use.
Steel Fish Tape is used for a wide range of applications. They are mainly used for routing heavy electrical wire and pulling off them through the electrical pipe. They can pull of heavy load and are able to be bent at different angles that will make your work more easily.
But a fact that Steel Fish Tape is highly conductive. So, while using a steel fish tape, you must be aware that it is not electrically connected to any live wire. Otherwise, it will conduct electricity and it may cause death.
Best Fish Tape Buying Guide
There is a lot of fish tape of a different model for different uses. The best fish tape has some specific features that make them different from the ordinary one. Before going to buy a fish tape, make sure to check out these features whether they have or not.
It is the most important feature you should always look for before buying a product. You will want a Fish tape you’re purchasing is supposed to be heavy duty and will long last with a good performance. They should be able to bend well without breaking and also need to be flexible. The fish tape also should be shockproof.
To be good Fish tape, it must be made of a good material that has the strength and also lightweight. They are responsible for the durability and other features. There is a different kind of material like glass fiber, steel, plastic etc. they are made for different works.
If you are going to work with heavy wires then you must choose steel made a fish tape that has the feature of heavy lifting. On the other hand, if you need a tape that needs to reach the different angular area in a short length, then fiberglass fish tape will be perfect for you. Again, if you don’t need any special criteria and only for home use, then the plastic fish tape will be good for you in cheap.
You must check the length before buying because it will define the range of your work. If you are a home user, then a medium length fish tape will suit you. On the other hand, for professional works, it must be a good length that you can cover the full area you want. Another fact is it must have an etched marking at the end to measure the depth and count the number of cables.
The case is not necessary but an important part of the tool. It keeps the wire safe from any unwanted force as well as keep it dry. If the case is strong, then the durability of the fish tape will increase.
Shape: Shape will be a key factor in your work. Round shape is user-friendly and easy to reach any area you want. They can be easily bent and are comfortable between your hand and fingers.
Top 6 Best Fish Tapes
As being an important tool for electrical wiring and so many works, varieties of Fish Tape can be found with different features. They have different pros and cons that made these best for particular works. Here some of the best Fish Tape with features, their pros and cons are explained:
1. Fish Tape 5-Foot is Stiff Steel
Klein Tools 56001 came with different length and high strength spring that allow you to heavy work and also a great durability. It has a 1 feet permanent laser etched marking increment that means you can measure more perfectly the depth and also how many cables there are.
It has a finger grips that will allow you to transfer the full winding power from your hands and fingers. This has a polypropylene case with a handle. The handle has a good grip that will ensure the full and steady grip to pull the tape from the case while you are working with this with a firm grip.
The wire is made of a good steel. It allows you to bend in different angles easily. It has a round and smooth inner ring that will provide you a comfort and smooth surface for winding and rewinding. With the laser marking at the end, the depth of the conduit runs can be accurately measured.
The cons are the increment number is so small that it is hard to read. It may be rusted over and sometimes hard to uncoil it. Again, sometimes a portion of the wire may be out of and then the full entire coil came out from the case. Then it is hard to uncoil it back that will jumble your work.
2. Gardner Bender EFT-15 Mini Cable Snake
Gardner Bender EFT-15 Mini Cable Snake is a 15-foot flat steel wire tape which is specially designed for installing wire or cables over short runs under carpets, down walls or over ceilings. It does not curl during extension. Because of the compact, rugged design anyone can easily carry or store it.
It has grooved knob, belt clip, and flat eyelet tip. For tightly connected the cable to fish tape, flat eyelet tip is designed. For grooved knob, your fingers will fit deep into it and will allow you an easily retractable fish tape.
It is a fiberglass tape so it should be safe with some water exposure. You can easily pull over cables through the roof or from down to top or through walls easily with this cable snake. As it is 15 ft long so more than enough to go from the basement to the second floor. As the cable is flat so sometimes it can break down for pulling heavy weight or for extreme pressure.
If you want to remove cables from many, this tape is perfect for you. You can easily pull out cables. This cable snake is perfect for small runs. Be aware, as it can be used for pulling wires make sure that you have power off otherwise you may have shocked.
3. Electrical Fish Tape Reel
Electrical fish tape reel is 50 feet of electrical cable line puller that you can have as much reached as possible. This tape is ideal for use on stereo speakers, wires, telephone lines, cable tv, internet cable, surround sound speakers etc. It can pull the cable through dry walls, conduit, insulation pipe and more. This tape is made of high-quality plastic with a durable handle and a thumb lock to hold wires in place whatever you want to place. This tape has high impact resistant so that the tape will not break while working. As it is 50 ft long so you can cover a long distance.
You have to rotate the reel for releasing the tape. To create enough slack you have to rotate the reel Several times. Even when you will try to back the tape into the casing you may take some time. But it is super convenient so you car carries it with you and keep it in a small place.
It has a unique sloped handle which will give you more advantage to pull out or pull the tape from the case. The case is extremely durable and offers the maximum in shock. There is a hook type in front of the tape, so you can easily pull any kind of wire with the help of the hook. As the tape is strong enough so it can pull heavy wires as well as small ones.
4. 33 FT Fiberglass Electrical Fish Tape
Fiberglass electrical fish tape is a combination of 10 individual nonconductive rods. For a longer length, these rods can be screwed together for installing wires through walls, ceiling, crawl spaces, attics, subfloor etc. These rods together can cover almost 33 ft, so within 33 ft you can install any wires through the amount of tape you need.
As these rods are nonconductive so you can deal with these while power on. But it better to work keeping power off. One rod contains a tip, but the tip of this tape can get louse on the first pull. The rods aren’t rigid enough so while working on attic space rods dive downward.
Sometimes the connection of these rods come loose then you have to tighten them. But you can deal with the heavy wires by this tape. You can get wires snaked thru just about anywhere by using it. The rods are made with fiberglass that’s why these rods don’t get break easily.
5. 50 FT Fish Tape with High Impact Case
This is a 50 ft flexible fish tape which can pull cables and wire through drywall, conduit, and pipes. The tapes are attached with a pulling loop. It has a flexible handle. Tapes come out and go in by rotating of the reel. For maximum durability, the case is high Impact.
This tape is a little bit heavy and flat. The handle will give you much grip and the steel tape is much strong. There is a tip in front of the tape which helps you to pull the cables or wires easily. But the quality of the case is not so good. For releasing and pull the tape again in the case you have to rotate the reel.
Sometimes tape stuck while releasing. When the fishing tape is extended from tool it becomes difficult to retract, the cable will start to bunch out and push plastic cover away from hand grip area. Sometimes while rotating of the reel the reel can be stuck.
6. 10M Running Rods Fish Tape Pulling
10M 33Ft Electrical Wire Threader Cable Running Rods Fish Tape Pulling is made of plastic wire and has a metal connector at the end. It is very lightweight but strong enough. That ensures that you can use it for heavy works.
This tape has a good dimension and a round shape. It is etched at the end that makes the procedure more flexible. You can attach the wires and detach them at the end and can pull off them through any surface. Plastic and Metal are used in this Fish Tape that ensures the best performance and durability for a long period of time.
It has a flexible metal leader that means you can easily reach any narrow space you want and can find out the cables. It has an interchangeable terminal and eyelet that ensure that if they are broken or doesn’t work well, you can change them and will be able to use the fish tape as it was before.
There are some cons of this product like the tape may be patched up and coil while working. They may face trouble while winding the tape in the wheel. So that in the next time, it will be harder to come out the tape from the case. Sometimes the end of the tape will be curved that will make a huge problem while working.
How to Use Fish Tape
Using Fish Tape is not a rocket science. You just need to handle a Fish tape, follow some steps to pass through the tape in a narrow area, and then just attach the wires in the other end and pull it up. Thus, you can pass through any wires through a narrow area or conduit.
Here are some guidelines for you how to use fish tape in different condition.
Fish tapes mostly made in 50 Ft or 100 Ft length. By pressing a button outside the handle pulls off the wire/tape out of the wheel from the case and then unwinds it, allowing you to easily pull it out from the case. When tape uncoiled from the wheel, you can pass through that into a conduit you want.
If the fish tape came off from the other end of the conduit, you need to attach properly all the wires to the end portion of the fish tape and just put back the tape that is attached with wires through the conduit or electrical pipe. For winding up the fish tape in the wheel again, grip the center small portion of the wheel that comes out of the case with one hand and turns the case handle with the other hand.
Under the Carpet
For under carpet use, it’s better to use a steel fish tape. As they are smooth and flexible surface. The process is through same as through a conduit, but you need to care about some facts. It’s better to push off the tape by hands manually. So that they will follow a straight line and don’t be freaked out.
When pulling off the tape attached with wire, you need to pull off it’s slowly whether the attached wire may be detached for the friction of the carpet. Again, while working you must be aware of that there is no extra force on the fish tape.
In an Insulated Wall
Using a Fish Tape through an insulated wall in not an easy work. If there is no hole in the wall then the process will be harder. So first ensure that there is a hole or path from one end to the other. Then just do the same process as through the conduit.
But the fact is here the path may not be so smooth or straight as it was in a conduit. So you need to bend the tape in different angles as your need. If the tape attached to any portion of the wall accidentally, then just pull it down again, and pull up slowly.
Fiberglass Fish Tape vs Steel Fish Tape
There are some basic differences between a Fiberglass Fish Tape and a Steel Fish Tape. First of all fiberglass fish tape is consists of some fiberglass rods like 10 rods. They are attached together to form a tape. On the other hand steel fish tape is one tape made of steel.
Fiberglass fish tape is used for a short distance. They are strong and can do heavy work. They are smooth and easy to use. But the problem is it is hard to use when the distance is long. As they cannot be bend easily.
In this case, steel fish tape is perfect. They can be used for long distance for its material. They also can be bend easily. So, for the long distance, steel fish tape is preferable over fiberglass fish tape.
Here are Frequently Asked Questions and their answers with an explanation about Fish Tape:
Q. Can they be bent?
Ans: Yes, the Good Fish tape can be bent at different angles.
Q. How to bend fiberglass fish tape?
Ans: Fiberglass Fish Tape can’t be bent in their tape. But as they are a addition of some portion, you can bend them at their joint.
Q. What Fish tape should I use for angular conduit?
Ans: Steel and Fiberglass both type you can use. But if the angle is sharp, then it’s better to use a fiberglass Fish Tape.
Q. Are they magnetic or Conductive?
Ans: Some Fish tape is magnetic but not everyone. Steel Fish Tape is normally conductive. So if you are using a Steel Fish Tape, you must be aware of a live wire.
Q. Can I measure the depth or count the number of wire?
Ans: yes, most of the Fish tape have the facility to know the depth and counting the number of wires.
Using a fish tape will make the whole process easier and time-saving. At the same time, your staffs will keep good from unexpecting electrical short circuit problem. It will ensure the best management of electrical wire inside and outside of your home.
AT the time of buying, you must check that it is the best fish tape with necessary features. And while working you must follow the steps properly. You need to be concern about the safety while using any live wire.