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To Clip or Not to Clip: Should You Tie Directly to a Crankbait or Use a Snap?

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If you start a discussion about using clips or snaps with crankbaits, you’re liable to hear some strong opinions.

And for every angler who swears by them, there’s another fisherman who won’t use them.

I can see both sides, having occupied both positions over my fishing career, and I’ll give time to the arguments, both pro and con.

Some anglers love clips; others hate them.

Do you want the skinny on using snaps with a crankbait?

Keep reading!

Related:

Snaps and Crankbaits: The Pros

Many professional anglers use snaps with their crankbaits, and we typically turn to the pros to improve our success on the water.

Their reasons are clear:

  • Clips reduce the time to switch lures.
  • They make it easier to change lures, too.
  • They may reduce break-offs caused by wear at the split ring or bill.

Let’s break each of these down a bit.

Clips reduce the time to switch lures

There’s no question that swapping lures is faster with a clip than when you cut and retie a knot. 

Even the fastest knots - the Palomar or Uni - are going to be much slower than a clip. And when you’re working through your crankbaits to find the one that’s attracting bites, speed matters.

That’s the #1 reason you’ll find clips on the tournament trail.

When you’re switching lures frequently, a clip is going to save a lot of time.

Yes, we’re talking seconds - but those seconds add up all day, giving you more time to work your lures and fill your live well.

Clips make it easier to change lures

Whether your hands are cold or your eyes are long past their best years, tying a good, solid knot can be a challenge.

One advantage of clips is that once you have a good knot tied, you don’t need to do it again until your line starts to take damage.

Now, you should be very aware of any potential wear on your line, checking it carefully after each catch and after a dozen or so casts.

But overall, swapping lures with clips is much easier than retying a good knot each time.

Clips can reduce line abrasion from the crankbait itself

Split rings and bills are just plain not friendly to your line - that’s a fact.

And an easy way to keep your line away from the ring and the bill is to attach a clip.

The clip isn’t going to take a beating from your crankbait, but your line can.

Is this the strongest argument for clips? Probably not, but I suppose that it can prevent break-offs from time to time.

Snaps and Crankbaits: The Cons

The strengths of clips notwithstanding, you’ll find plenty of anglers who don’t - and won’t - use them.

Why?

  • Clips add another point of failure.
  • They don’t necessarily cut down on the number of reties.
  • It’s not clear that clips don’t impair lure action.
  • Clips pick up junk.

Let’s dive into the cons and see if they hold up to scrutiny.

Clips add another point of failure

There’s more than a little wisdom in the idea of keeping things simple, and a clip certainly adds another point of potential failure to the mix.

High-quality clips like Duolocks aren’t going to cause you any trouble, and even products like the Dr. Fish 100 pack work like a charm.

VMC Duolocks and Dr. Fish snaps work really well.

In #1 and #2, excellent sizes for most crankbaits, you’re talking about breaking strengths of roughly 40 and 55 pounds, respectively. That’s likely a lot more stress than you’ll ever place on a clip, and in any case, I’d bet line or knot failure happens a lot more frequently than clips breaking.

Does that mean that it can’t happen?

No, I wouldn’t say that. But I wouldn’t worry a whole lot about a quality clip letting go.

Clips don’t necessarily cut down on the number of reties

Anglers who don’t use clips have a point here.

Because abrasion can be an issue even with the most durable lines, after every catch, you need to retie. And if you’ve been running your crankbait around stumps, pilings, branches, rocks, or other rough surfaces, you should be checking your line for damage pretty often.

And damage will happen, eventually. You can count on it.

So depending on how many you’re catching and how tough the conditions are, you may be retying your clips nearly as often - or just as often - as you’d be retying your crankbaits.

That’s hard to disagree with.

It’s not clear that clips don’t impair lure action

While the jury’s still out on this one, I think the evidence points to “no.”

The addition of a clip might change the physics of what’s going on in the front of your crankbait. The issue is whether the hard body of the clip acts any differently than the soft loop of a knot like the Kreh.

It doesn’t seem to, at least when I’ve compared the two.

A swivel clip can cause trouble on this front, so I definitely think you should stick with standard clips if you choose this option on your crankbaits.

Clips pick up junk

There’s no denying this one.

Clips act like weed magnets, and if you’re running your crankbait where there’s plenty to pick up, I’d probably give the clips a pass.

Plenty of pros skip the clip, especially when there’s a lot of junk in the water.

Whatever time they save on lure changes and retying will quickly be lost to cleaning junk off them.

Final Analysis: It Looks Like the Pros Have It

While there’s no question that clips can pick up junk, they don’t appear to affect lure action, and they can save you time and effort, especially if you’re switching lures frequently.

That’s probably why they’ve become a fixture in tournaments, where lure swapping is the order of the day until the bites start.

Just remember: fish a high-quality clip and make sure that the size is right. For most crankbaits, that means a #1 or #2. Moving up or down in size can cause issues for your lure’s action or its attractiveness to fish, so be sure to select the right size for you.

And though you’ll hear some anglers suggest that you remove the spit ring altogether and attach the clip directly to the lure, on many crankbaits, you’ll find that this is much easier said than done.

A clip is easy to attach directly to a Rat-L-Trap, but that’s not true for every lure.

Sure, removing the split ring is no big deal, but the placement of the eye in the crankbait can make attaching the clip nearly impossible, impair its action, or both.

Instead, just stick with the spit ring if you choose to run a clip.

About The Author
Pete D
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
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