The best fish tape should be strong, easy to slide in and out, easy to
There’s no need to work with poorly made fish tape when there are so many quality options out there. But they can be hard to find – and that’s where we come in.
In our quest to find the ideal set of electrical fish tape – we review the Top 6 Fish Tape Brands of 2019. Following our guide, you can be sure to grab yourself a quality reel of fish tape at a great price.
Best Fish Tape
Southwire Fish Tape – Best Overall
It’s amazing how much easier a job gets when you’re using a good quality reel of fish tape.
Working with clunky, hard-to-pull fish tape is an easy way to suck the fun out of a job.
Clearly, Southwire understands this frustration, as they have gone above and beyond to make a fish tape which is extremely easy to pull in and out.
The fish tape is made with high quality 1/8”-wide tempered spring steel. This ensures that the fish tape doesn’t wear out as you constantly wind and unwind the fish tape.
Laser-etched footage markings in 12-inch increments make it ridiculously easy to determine the conduit length during a pull. The fish tape itself comes in 5 different lengths:
Often when one size isn’t big enough, there is a huge jump in the next length increment. What I like about Southwire’s 5 different lengths is that you’re not paying extra for an overly-large reel length.
Getting the right-sized length means that you’re not paying extra for fish tape you’re not going to use – saving your money.
When evaluating fish tape, it’s important to pay close attention to the case itself. If you’re like me, you are constantly dropping your reel of fish tape. That’s why it’s essential to have a high-impact case to properly absorb the beatdown your fish tape receives every time it hits the ground.
This fish tape does a great job at this, and you can comfortably bring this fish tape to site without having to worry about dropping it.
And last but not least: the handle. Too many fish tape reels have a handle made for baby hands.
Southwire came to the realization that babies make up only a small percentage of their buyers. So they designed a handle that a grown man’s hands can comfortably fit in.
Overall: Southwire’s fish tape is an essential tool for both apprentice and veteran electricians.Check Price
- Easy to pull in and out
- High quality steel (it lasts a long time)
- Affordable – great value for the price
- Would prefer a slightly smaller wheel diameter
Jameson Fish Tape – Premium Choice
If you’re willing to spend a bit extra on your fish tape for some additional goodies, this fish tape from Jameson should suit you just right.
While you can buy this fish tape on its own, it will have an empty slot in the middle that is meant to hold an integral accessory kit which is sold separately.
You can use this fish tape with or without the accessory kit, and it will work well either way, but the kit is really what sets this model apart from the competition. The kit comes with leaders, ferrules, pulling eyes, some adhesive, and emery cloth so that you have everything you need within reach.
The tape itself is designed to be more flexible than the competition, as it is made of fiberglass and has a diameter of ⅛-inch. For those that are going to be threading wire through smaller conduits, Jameson fish tape should easily accommodate their needs.
As you would expect with a premium product such as this, you’ll end up paying a little more money than for competing 100-foot fish tape models, with a price of just over 100 dollars. But over the quality of Jameson’s fish tape really stands out – it’s worth it for any professional electrician who values working with high-quality tools.Check Price
- 100 feet long
- The tape is narrow and flexible
- Features a bend radius of 1-½ inches
- The accessory kit isn't useful if you have a tool belt
Klein Tools Fish Tape – Great Value
For customers who want fish tape that is reliable but don’t want to break the bank, this 25-foot spool is an excellent investment, as it is durable enough to last while remaining easy to use.
For example, the handle on this fish tape is sloped so that you can rewind it faster than with a straight handle. As with other high-quality fish tape models, this one from Klein Tools features laser etchings along the length of the tape so that you know how far you’ve gone and how much you have left.
There are also grips along the side of the spool that are raised off of the surface so that you can get a hold of it while you’re winding the tape up, letting you get the job done quicker.
The tape itself is made in the USA from high-strength spring steel, so it won’t end up getting permanently deformed, but it’s still durable enough to last.
This fish tape even features a plastic tip to ensure that it doesn’t snag while it’s part way through a conduit or wall cavity. The case, which is made of polypropylene, is also much more durable than the case on competing models, so if you accidentally drop your fish tape, you won’t have to watch it fly apart in horror.
Overall Klein’s fish tape is an excellent option, and gets our vote for maximum value for the money.Check Price
- Durable case
- The tape is made of durable yet flexible steel
- Grips help you wind it
- No-snag tip
- The tape is a little flimsy at times
- Reeling in can be a challenge
Greenlee Fish Tape
Greenlee’s 150-foot fish tape looks like a bargain when you compare the price to the length of tape that you get, but nearly everything else about this product is abysmal.
When using this fish tape, you’ll often have trouble unspooling it, as if they packed too much tape into too small of a case.
By the time you finally manage to get the first bit of fish tape out of the case, then you’ll have to struggle when you reach the last 25 feet. Around the end of the tape’s length, you’ll start having the same problems as earlier, with the tape refusing to come out of the case even if you use force.
Winding the tape is even more of a challenge, as once you have it out, you’re going to have a lot of trouble getting it back in. It can often take over an hour just to get all of the fish tape spooled up.
While this product is sold with the promise of a flexible head, it doesn’t flex all that much, and it feels like it’ll come off at any moment.
The two redeeming features of this product include the laser-etched markings along the length of the tape (if you can get it out), and the viewing port that lets you see the tape through the case.Check Price
- Laser-etchings let you see the length
- Viewing window for remaining spool
- Difficulty unwinding the tape
- Can’t use the full length of tape
- Poor-quality tip
Gardner Bender Fish Tape
The Gardner Bender fish tape is surprisingly affordable when you consider that it’s 65 feet long, and it has a few features that make it more durable than the competition.
The fish tape itself features plated carbon steel for added corrosion resistance that will improve its longevity.
This fish tape is also equipped with an ergonomic handle that helps you make sure that your hand won’t get sore after a long day of work.
The handle is meant to fit in the user’s palm, which will reduce the amount of pressure on it, and the angled design makes it easier to unspool.
The tape itself is flat to help reduce the chance of it snagging, and the tip is small enough to fit into relatively small conduits.
The case is also designed to be more durable than the competition, having survived a 25-foot drop test, and it even has viewing ports to watch your progress.
One issue with this fish tape is that it curves a little bit too much. While some curve is necessary so that you can feed your fish tape in the right direction, this product makes it a challenge to fish too far without running into problems caused by its curvature.Check Price
- Case durability
- The plated carbon steel tape is resistant to corrosion
- Compact design
- Tape curvature
- Sometimes gets stuck
Katzco Fish Tape
Finally, we have this fish tape from Katzco, which is one of the most affordable options on this list.
You can get 50 feet of this fish tape for around the same price as 25 feet worth of fish tape from competing manufacturers, and you (surprisingly) won’t run into any glaring issues.
The case features viewing cutouts to let you see how much tape you have remaining, and it is also compact enough to bring to a job site without too much of a hassle.
The multi-use cable design used on this fish tape means that it works with a vast range of cables and wires.
The interior ring of this fish tape’s case features indentations which give you a spot to place your fingers while you’re pulling wire, though the handle isn’t as comfortable as you’d expect. With a low-profile steel head, the cable itself is convenient as well as durable, making fishing relatively easy.
There are a few issues with this product, however, and they may make you opt for an alternative. First of all, there is far too much grease in the spool, and it will probably make a mess the first time you unbox it. The wire also ends up getting tangled far too often, so there are some sacrifices for the low cost.Check Price
- Very affordable price
- Finger grips along the interior surface
- Multi-use cable
- Too much grease
- Wire isn’t stiff enough and gets tangled