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Budget friendly Electrical Fish Tapes

There are thousands and thousands of tools for workmen that have been developed throughout the years with the brilliant minds of innovators around the world.

When you are sort of unfamiliar in the tool industry, some tool names might seem funny and confusing. A good example of it is the fish tape.

When you look at it, it doesn’t seem to be a tape. For the fish part, nothing is fishy about it, literally. However, this tool is commonly used by most electricians in the industry.

 

My Picks For Best Electrical Fish Tapes

NameMaterialLengthPrice
Greenlee SmartMARKSteel 250 feet$$
Klein Tools 56008 Fish TapeSteel 240 feet$$
Southwire Tools Fish TapePolymer (Steel and Fiberglass)240 feet$$$
Gardner Bender Fish TapeCarbon Steel250 feet$

 


Greenlee FTS438DL – 250 SmartMARK

Greenlee Textron is an industrial and tool company based in Illinois, US. Since 1862, their company expanded and a variety of tools were distributed among the tool industry.

Brilliant tool innovations were developed through time, up until now.

Greenlee Textron is proudly introducing a line of laser etched steel fish tapes with Speed Flex leaders and over moulded grip handle.

This smartMARK steel fish tape with speed flex leaders allows the user to fish farther into the electrical conduits. Through its view ports, users can easily know how far they have gone fishing.

This new model of fish tape complements Greenlee Textron’s existing line of fish tapes made out of a variety of materials with the combination of length and stiffness to finish the fishing job of every workmen, especially electricians, and hobbyists faster, safer and easier.

Pros:

  • Increased efficiency can be observed, with its laser etched foot and meter distance markings.
  • The product allows the user to fish farther with its speed flex leader.
  • It lets the user know how far he had fished, measured in both feet and meter, through its viewing ports.
  • The tape is 250 feet in length.
  • It has a rugged, advanced, no-bump, and flared comfort grip that comes with superior rapid pay out and rewind capability.
  • It is made in the USA.

Cons:

  • The tape is not made of stainless steel so it will be prone to corrosion and will get the user’s hands dirty.
  • The end is too large to fit in a ½ inch metal flex for a 30 foot wire pull.

 


Klein Tools Stainless Steel Fish Tape

Klein Tools has been one of the well-known tool companies for its production of the world’s finest tools, specifically designed to provide workmen’s labour needs from all over the world.

Klein’s 56008 Depth Finder with High Strength 1/8 inch Stainless Fish Tape measures 240 feet long and features permanent laser etched 1 foot increments on the tape, allowing the users to measure the depth of conduit runs and determine the length of the tape still left to pay out.

Durability is surely evident with the tape’s polypropylene case and handle and features shock and impact resistance. The case’s round inner ring design gives off a smooth, consistent and comfortable surface for winding and rewinding of the tape.

Its uniquely sloped handle features the optimization of the position of the user’s hand for quick hand-over-hand rewinds. This also allows a more level payout of the tape on the backswing while feeding it in the conduit.

Pros:

  • The tape has permanent laser etched 1 foot increments on it.
  • It provides accurate depth measures of conduit runs.
  • The product determines the amount of tape left to pay out.
  • Its raised finger grips allow the users to transfer 100 percent of the winding power from their hands and fingers.
  • The product’s round inner ring provides a smooth, consistent and comfortable surface for winding and rewinding.

Cons:

  • The increment numbers on the tape are small and hard to read.

 


Southwire Tools SIMpull Fish Tape

Southwire Company, Inc. is known to be the largest manufacturer of copper and aluminium rod, wire, and cable in the US. Through time, the company made technological advances that expanded the products they’re manufacturing and distributing worldwide.

Southwire’s SIMpull fish tape is made of a non-conductive polymer that gives off low coefficient of friction, allowing the tape to smoothly glide through EMT and PVC conduits with a much faster pace than steel and fibreglass fish tapes do.

SIMpull fish tapes are also virtually unbreakable and are bend resistant.

Pros:

  • The tape comes in two kinds of leader types:
    Swiveling flexible metal leader – makes the tape easily glide through EMT and PVC conduit.
    Non-conductive and glow in the dark leader – allows easy tape installation over existing wires.
  • This new line of fish tapes features nine models that provide solutions for different applications, featuring two tape diameters and various lengths.
  • The product provides faster and easier pulls with its low friction and spiral extruded polymer.
  • The tape is extremely flexible and is made of non-conductive materials, making it corrosion resistant and at the same time, durable and won’t bend, while being lighter in weight than other fish tapes.
  • The fish tape is virtually unbreakable, meaning they won’t be easily bent or broken. It’s a mere combination of the best features of fish tapes made out of steel and fibreglass materials, giving the users the strength of a steel fish tape and the non-conductivity of a fibreglass fish tape.

Cons:

  • This fish tape may only be a good use for simple applications.
  • The tape doesn’t go 100 inches through a plastic conduit with more than 2-3 sweeps, in some experiences.

 


Gardner Bender Carbon Steel Fish Tape

Gardner Bender is known as a manufacturer of tools and supplies for professional electricians. The company had expanded since 1959 and has now been manufacturing more products such as electrical tools, voltage testers, wire management products and other professional equipment.

Gardner Bender’s line of fish tapes has improved hand fishing with their first ergonomic fish tape offered in the industry. The UpperHand fish tape has an ergonomic handle that secures the user’s grip at the strongest point and enhances the productivity on the job.

Its grip also provides comfort and reduces forearm strain for users. The interior grip fits the user’s palm and reduces the number of pressure points that are common in most fish tapes.

It is highly durable as the handle and the product housing were impact modified and exceeds the 25 ft drop-test.

Pros:

  • The fish tape is highly durable as it has impact modified handle and housing.
  • It’s corrosion-resistant plated steel wire gives users the toughest and the most durable tapes, perfect for long-lasting use.
  • The tape’s ergonomic handle provides users the comfort and security that some fish tapes don’t have.

Cons:

  • The tape has way too much curl in it so it became hard to use.

 


 

What Is A Fish Tape?

A fish tape, also called “draw wire” or “electrician’s snake”, is a tool used by electricians to pull wire through walls, beneath subfloors, electrical conduit and other spaces that are difficult to reach. It is designed to be guided through confined spaces like wall cavities. A fish tape is long, thin, flat steel wound up inside a donut-shaped wheel with a sturdy handle. Because of its storage system, the tape has a natural curvature that allows the electricians to guide it through tight spaces. It is a very handy tool as it can be used for pulling wires through a pipe or putting wires from one end to another through a plumbing chase.

Fish tapes can be made from different materials, mainly these three: steel, fiberglass, and nylon.

Steel Fish Tapes

  • This fish tape made from steel is very robust, highly flexible and rigid.
  • Steel fish tapes are absolutely suited for operations that require heavy duty pulling over long distances.
  • The tape is made from steel, which has high conductivity; steel fish tapes with live conductor must be avoided.

Fiberglass Fish Tapes

  • These fiberglass tapes have a very high pressure-thrust, making it a very much preferred material for installations of telecommunication and data communication cables.
  • The thicker the fiberglass tape, the higher the pressure-thrust it has.
  • The components in fiberglass reduce the friction resistance of the tape.
  • When this tape is being used in an operation, pulling and pushing every sharp bend must be avoided as any excessive bending can tear down the tape.

Nylon Fish Tapes

  • This kind of tape is commonly and widely used because of its cost-efficiency and universal applicability.
  • It has an increased friction resistance and its wear and tear is higher than other kinds of fish tapes.
  • Nylon fish tapes are highly recommended for occasional fishing operations.

For some, fish tapes seem to be difficult to use during operation. However, proper handling, wire manipulation, and safety measures while using the tool are the key for ease of usage.

Before going to learn about how these tapes work, here are some safety tips and proper usage guidelines when using fish tapes:

  • Wear protective eyewear when feeding, pulling, and rewinding a fish tape.
  • Turn off all appliances near the fish tape during an operation.
  • Do not remove the screws on the winder reel while using the fish tape coiled in it.
  • Pick a safe and comfortable work position and spot before using the fish tape to avoid loss of balance during the feeding or pulling the tape.
  • Wear heavy duty gloves when fishing the tape as sharp edges might cut bare hands.
  • If insulation is encountered during the operation, try not to go through it, but around it with the tape.
  • For jobs near live circuits, non-conductive and non-corrosion fiberglass fish tapes are recommended.
  • Keep the tape clean by washing it with detergent and warm water as dirty tapes can be difficult to retrieve. Inspect fish tapes for corrosion, cracks, or other wear as it may lead the tape to break during pulling.

How To Buy And Use A Fish Tape?

Fish tapes mostly come in lengths of 50’ and 100’. Pressing a button or pulling a lever near the handle pulls the tape out of the wheel and releases it, allowing the user to simply pull it out of the wheel. As the tape unwinds from the wheel, the user feeds the tape into a conduit. When the tape emerges from the other end, a helper will attach the wires to the end of the tape then the tape is put back through the conduit, towing the wires with it. To wind up the tape back in the wheel, grip the center of the wheel with one hand and turn the handle with the other.

Before going to purchase a fish tape in the tool shop, make sure to check out this list. Here are the things to look out for and consider before buying a fish tape:

Quality: There’s no use of paying big bucks for a fish tape that breaks off too early and easily. What brand is it under? Where was it made from? What are the materials it’s made from? These are the questions you always have to ask yourself, especially when you’re already in the store and are about to make you next item buy from the fish tapes aisle.

Quality, together with durability, should never be out of the list you should look out for when buying just about anything, to avoid wastage of time and money.

Durability: Here comes the feature you should always look for. Durability decides how long you can use something. Sure, users are also responsible for the long lasting usage of their things, but first and foremost, the thing you’re purchasing is supposed to be heavy duty.

A durable fish tape should be shock proof, and is corrosion resistant.

Which Tape Is Which: As I mentioned in the beginning of the article, fish tapes can be made of three kinds of materials: Steel, nylon, and fiberglass.

Steel fish tapes are very rigid and flexible and are suitable for heavy duty fishing jobs. However, due to its high conductivity, operations that are near live conductors must be avoided when using this kind of fish tape.

Nylon fish tapes are the most commonly used as aside from having an increased friction resistance, these tapes are also cost-efficient and applicable to wide fishing operations.

Fiberglass fish tapes are preferred for installations of telecommunication and data communication cables. This kind of tapes is also non-conductive, making it handier for electricians to use.

Now let us look at my favorite electrical fish tapes in the market at the moment:

 

CONCLUSION

We have come to the end of the article. We hope this served as a guide for you to know more about fish tapes; what they do, how they work, and some tips about using the tapes.