Instructables

Some tips for handling an electrician's snake ("fish tape")

The fish tape, or snake, is an important tool for everything from pulling wires through a pipe to fishing wires from one end of a house to the other above a ceiling in an attic or up several floors through a plumbing chase.

One of the first challenges the novice snake-user encounters is unrolling the snake. I'm actually planning on doing a separate instructable-tip for that process. But suffice it to say that you need to hold onto it VERY TIGHTLY and carefully walk out the entire length of the snake (stepping on it as you do so to keep it from sproinging out of control) and then re-coil it with a much larger diameter. Secure the larger coil by wrapping one end around the coil thru the center of it several times so that it locks against itself.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Avoiding major trauma -- keep the end folded over.

The end of the fish tape can be a very dangerous thing, so *never* leave a sharp end exposed -- if it ever sprung when you didn't expect it, it could leave a very nasty gash on you, someone else, pets, whatever.

Take the end of the snake in the grip of a pair of pliers and bend it over 180 degrees. Then crimp it down tightly, so that the sharp end is no longer exposed.

The loop on the end is also useful for hooking the snake at the far end when you are snaking in walls or ceilings and for providing a place to securely tie on wire or whatever you're snaking. Twist it through the loop and then cover the whole thing with electrical tape to keep it from snagging and to help keep it secure.
regisd (author) 10 months ago
The plastic housing is really only useful if you're doing something like snaking a long pipe run. I don't actually know any electricians who use the plastic housing regularly. Most folks I know (and this is what I did when I was working in the trade) just use the bare fish tape - you can cut to a given length as needed, and having the fish floating free makes it much easier to flip back and forth as needed for something like snaking across a ceiling in old work construction where you have to get under joists but still get over plaster bumps on the backside of a lathe and plaster ceiling. (Flipping back and forth prevents the snake from curling into a circle instead of traversing the space as it should)/
neo7166510 months ago
What you have is a refill for a fish tape. Fish tapes are in a plastic housing that keeps it protected and helps rolling/ unrolling it.
Justinleon2 years ago
The way that you adopted to express the useful tips is very nice. One can easily avail from these useful tips. it is Great article!
Electrician Oakland
aussie_m3 years ago
I have been able to locate some NON CONDUCTIVE fish tapes 15 m long and some 20 m long for more information please contact me pinz@iprimus.com.au
electrician in melbourneThis is a great tool , we use it a lot for our underground work it gets around every corner with ease & its also strong and reliable.
Brennn106 years ago
Thanks for the tip! I guess the next time I am using a snake I will refer to this. I once had to crawl into crawlspaces in my 210 year old house, and send a snake through some hole to hook up outdoor stereo speakers. I was about 13 at the time, and I was small enough to fit in it. I probably inhaled a cup of dust.
Great tool tip. Never heard of fish tape, but it sounds like it could be dangerous. Just to me, somehow... because you said electrician's snake, which made me remember of eels... so yeah.