The Art Of Crimping – Tackle Rigging Tips

by Captain Jeff Warford

Introduction to Crimping

The key to success in fishing is attention to detail. After years on the water it’s the most important thing I’ve learned. I live by it everyday and have improved my success! When it comes to big game fishing, perfectly crimped (aka swaged) connections are vital! Don’t overlook the little things!

Here's a photo that Captain Jeff took of his mate Dan and boss, boat owner Ilan, one night tuna fishing. This trip was a good one with great fishing and no tackle failure. When the bite turns on and the cockpit is mayhem tackle failure is a common ailment on most boats. Don't let it be yours!
Here’s a photo that Captain Jeff took of his mate Dan and boss, boat owner Ilan, one night tuna fishing. This trip was a good one with great fishing and no tackle failure. When the bite turns on and the cockpit is mayhem tackle failure due to poor crimping technique is a common ailment on most boats. Don’t let it be yours!

There are many different crimps (aka sleeves) and crimping tools (swagers) available in the marketplace. The type you choose is undeniably one of the most important decisions when rigging and preparing your tackle.

Selecting Your Crimping Tool

A quality crimping hand tool is very important. The Jinkai SC3C Crimping Tool is good however we suggest using a tool with an adjustable jaw for precise calibration in order to ensure accurate compression and prevent over crimping. Crimping too loose and crimping too tight are very common issues that lead to failure. A tool with good grips is also helpful, especially when using in wet conditions. The Diamond CH-18 Heavy Duty Hand Tool is a great tool when using Hi- Seas, Jinkai or Momoi Diamond crimp sleeves.

Crimp Sleeve Selection

Aluminum crimp sleeves are very popular and work great; however, I use the Hi Seas double barrel black nickel plated copper sleeves.

Their double barrel design aligns the leader in a perfect parallel fashion and prevents crossing over inside the crimp. This offers a super strong and consistent connection. I also really prefer the stealthy black nickel over the shiny aluminum crimps. The crimp sleeve size must match the line diameter. Focus on diameters not pound test ratings on packaging.

Whenever possible size up the line and crimp sleeves to ensure a perfect snug match before purchasing. To help out here’s a list of our most popular crimp sleeves (Hi Seas Double Barrel Sleeves) with references to our top selling big game monofilament and fluorocarbon leader line.

Crimp Sleeves Sizing: There’s many other brands of mono that will fit but these are just a few we sized up for your convenience.

  • D = 1.0mm – Fits 80# Momoi & Hi Seas Grand Slam, 80 & 90# Seaguar, 80 & 100# Ande
  • C = 1.3mm – Fits 125# Ande, 130# Momoi & Hi Seas Grand Slam, 150# Seaguar & Momoi
  • B = 1.6mm – Fits 150# Ande, 175# HiSeas Grand Slam, 200# Seaguar & Momoi
  • A1 = 1.9mm – Fits Seaguar 220-300#, Momoi 300#
  • A2 = 2.2mm – Fits Most 400#
Hi Seas Double Barrel Black Nickel Plated Copper Sleeves
Hi Seas Double Barrel Black Nickel Plated Copper Sleeves – Selecting the right crimps is half the battle when rigging up.

Calibrating Your Crimper

Calibrating the crimping tool is often overlooked, but is the most important step to ensure the strongest possible, perfectly crimped sleeve every time. The CH-18 hand tools have an adjustments screw along one side of the handle. The lower screw is for locking and unlocking the tool for adjustment purposes. Turn the screw 1⁄2 turn counter clockwise to unlock the tool. Then use the upper screw for adjusting the tension of the tool. Adjust the tension in small 1⁄4 turn increments at a time, making sure you tighten the lower screw to lock it after each adjustment.

To test and calibrate the crimping tool’s tension setting…

  1. Start with a 4’ piece of the leader material, the test you will be using.
  2. Make a 4’’ loop on each end of the leader and crimp with the appropriate size crimp.
  3. Put one loop around a solid fixed object like a boat cleat or trailer hitch and put the other end around a gaff hook.
  4. Pull test the leader. The key is slow and steady pressure.
  5. Pull Until Failure
  6. Observe carefully and adjust the tool appropriately to dial in and calibrate the crimping tool.
Pull testing until failure is the only way to determine what adjustments your crimping tool needs. Once calibrated your connections will be much stronger and more dependable.
Pull testing until failure is the only way to determine what adjustments your crimping tool needs. Once calibrated your connections will be much stronger and more dependable.

The end goal is to have the line break in between the two loops. If the leader breaks inside the crimp, the crimper is too tight. If the crimp slides, the crimper is adjusted too loose and needs to be tightened. A slight slip in the crimp is better than too tight. I look for the crimp to just start to slide before the main line breaks.

Line failures happen but must be eliminated at all costs. By calibrating your crimping tool the ultimate strength will be achieved thus greatly reducing any crimp connection failures.
Line failures happen but must be eliminated at all costs. By calibrating your crimping tool the ultimate strength will be achieved thus greatly reducing any crimp connection failures.

Flare

It is extremely important that the swaged crimp have a nice flare on each end. If the crimp has no flare, the crimping tool jaws will need to be modified. To modify the jaws first select a drill bit one or two sizes larger than the crimp cavity diameter. Start slowly and be sure to drill straight. Drill both sides a little at a time. Test, drill and retest the modification as you go until the perfect flare is achieved. This is an easy process but must be done slowly. Don’t over drill!

A perfect crimp connection as per Captain Jeff. He DOES NOT like a loose loop NOR chaff tube on his direct crimped hooks as he has found it leaders to crotch breaks, an unacceptable failure in big game fishing. Obviously there is a time and place for chaff tube and different rigging styles however this is who Captain Jeff crimps for the ultimate success tuna fishing.
A perfect crimp connection as per Captain Jeff. He DOES NOT like a loose loop NOR chaff tube on his direct crimped hooks as he has found it leaders to crotch breaks, an unacceptable failure in big game fishing. Obviously there is a time and place for chaff tube and different rigging styles however this is who Captain Jeff crimps for the ultimate success tuna fishing.

Ready to start crimping!

When crimping always melt the tag end of the leader. Before crimping, leave roughly 3” of leader line tag end sticking out to insure you don’t come close to and potential damage the main line with heat.

Melt the tag end with a lighter and press the end against the side of the lighter to create the mushroom flare. This safeguard against possible slip helps when pulling the crimp down tight for crimping.

I pull down tight before crimping all hooks and swivels and when rigging fluorocarbon don’t use chafe gear. I’ve found that the consistent movement of the hook/swivel will ultimately cause a crotch break. Crimping tight to the hook/swivel prevents this common point of failure.

Final Points

Tackle failure is not acceptable and should never happen! If something does not look right, cut it off and do it again. Remember these key points. Always ensure correct sizing when matching crimp sleeves to line diameter. Always use the appropriate crimping tool which has been properly calibrated and modified for a perfect crimp. Now it’s time to start crimping with confidence.

About Captain Jeff Warford

As a child, Captain Jeff Warford started fishing off the waters of Long Beach Island. Learning from the ground up the lifelong passion for bluewater fishing grew. At 16 Jeff was first mate for Captain Les Osborn aboard the “Little Chick” out of Barnegat Light, NJ. He quickly realized his love for tuna fishing. Seasoned by years of experience on the water, Jeff set out to make fishing his profession. Four years ago Jeff was hired by an elite fishing team to captain the “No Limit”. There he built a name for himself as one of the top captains in the North East. In 2015, Captain Warford had an outstanding year with 82 Bigeye tuna caught. Jeff finished as one of the top tuna boats. After a number of years of successful fishing Jeff moved into the private boat world. In late 2016, Jeff took the job as captain of the 58′ Viking
“Reel Innovation” for Ilan Shemesh. The team of Ilan and Jeff have big plans to revolutionize fishing worldwide with innovative new products. In January of 2017, they released Mr. Chunker, the first ever smart phone controlled automatic chunking device. Then in 2019, The World’s Best Outrodder, a unique and convenient multi locking rod holder. At the time of this blog post, there’s more new products in the pipeline. Keep a big eye out!

Originally published in the Big Game Fishing Journal 2017

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Author: FishHead.Greg

A Long Beach Island native with life long experience fishing and navigating the local waters, Greg is a distinguished Master Captain (the highest qualified operator license), holding a US Coast Guard Masters 50T Near Coastal License with Towing Endorsement. Raised in and now managing his family's bait and tackle business, Fishermans Headquarters (Since 1962, The Saltwater Fishing Bait & Tackle Experts) Greg is daily immersed in fishing. He is the Chief Contributor of FishingLBI.com (Long Beach Island's best fishing report blog) as well as the Admin for the shop's social media pages (on Instagram and Facebook). Be sure to follow!

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