We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Fish Tape?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
About Mechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At About Mechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Fish tape is a tool which is used to pull wiring through walls, conduit, and similar environments. Despite the name, this tool has absolutely nothing to do with fish. Hardware and electrical stores often sell fish tape, with a range of lengths and styles available. Most is made from stainless steel, which is used to form a flat tape, but other materials can be used as well.

Manufacturers produce fish tape on a reel. Reels are useful for storage, ensuring that the tape is easy to contain and that it will not be damaged when not in use. The reel also gives the fish tape a slight curve, which can be useful when it is being manipulated through a wall or section of conduit. To use fish tape, the reel is carefully unspooled and used to feed the tape through the desired area until it comes out on the other side. This can take some practice and skill, especially if the tape is being fed through a lengthy opening.

Once the fish tape comes out, wires can be attached to a hook on the tape, and the tape can be gently pulled back, bringing the wires through. This usually takes two people, one to handle the wires, ensuring that they don't become snagged or tangled, and one to manipulate the reel, bringing the wires through slowly and steadily. For especially thick or large wires, some people prefer to attach a rope to the fish tape, bring the rope through, and then attach the wires to the rope and pull them through with the rope instead of the tape.

The "fish" in "fish tape" comes from the idea that one is essentially fishing for wires. Learning to work with this tool can be a bit challenging at first, as can working with unfamiliar fish tape which someone does not have a feel for. It can help to practice independently with long tubes or other practice materials to gain experience before using this tool on a job site.

For situations in which wires need to be brought through an especially long opening, two pieces of fish tape can be linked together to do the job. Electricians can also choose between reels with different lengths of tape for various jobs. Reels are usually marked with their lengths, and they may be color coded to make it easy to grab the right reel in a hurry.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a About Mechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon218004 — On Sep 27, 2011

I think that it was a bit of a ridicules statement that, "Despite the name, this tool has absolutely nothing to do with fish."

I'm 'kind of' an academic dummy but would guess to say it gets its name from the fact you are

"fishing" or 'angling' to find a route through a wall or through something with restrictive access.

By anon217581 — On Sep 26, 2011

It's worth noting that these also come in a wide variety of lengths and qualities. While most people won't have the need for the more expensive reels, the cheapest of them are no fun using and can lead to buyers regret right while you're in the middle of the job.

Haven't ever used one of the plastic ones, but will probably get one at some point in the future.

Make sure you don't buy one that's too short either. Short fish tapes are better to have if you already have a longer one. Just doing a short run of 10' can find you with 20' pulled out on the floor as you try to curl the line to make turns at ceiling/wall junctions.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.