by George Poveromo

The haywire twist is the strongest connection for joining wire to a hook, lure or swivel. Here's how to tie one on.
When short-striking fish — such as kingfish — call for rear or mid-bait hook placement, add more twists to your haywires.
The haywire twist is a popular means of joining a hook, swivel or lure to single-strand wire leader. Done properly, the connection is stronger than the wire itself, due to the double-wraps. Therefore, when taxed to near its rated breaking strength, the haywire twist will be the least likely part of a terminal system to fail.

The haywire twist is widely used in big-game fishing when fabricating wire leaders for wahoo and sharks and securing snap swivels to wire-line trolling outfits. Regardless, it's just as important a connection for smaller coastal and inshore species that require a wire leader, such as the likes of Spanish mackerel, bluefish and barracuda.

The haywire gains its strength through a series of tightly executed twists. These twists fortify the section where the wire joins the hook or swivel, making this otherwise major stress point stronger and less prone to kinking under heavy pressure.


A smoothly finished haywire.
There are certain guidelines that guarantee a perfect haywire twist. For example, if the twists are not


even or are loosely wrapped, the connection could spin off, kink and possibly break.

As mentioned above, the barrel wraps are important because they prevent the twists from unraveling. However, after completing the barrel wraps, the extra tag of wire must be twisted off correctly to ensure a smooth finish at the point of separation. As elementary as this seems, the slightest snag or burr — which would result if you clipped off the wire tag with pliers — will cut hands and possibly fishing lines.

For most applications, six to ten haywire twists are sufficient. Since the barrel wrap simply locks the twists in place, it is only necessary to make four or five of them.

Outlined here are the steps to make a perfect haywire twist. After some practice, it's a snap.


Step 1
Pass the wire through the eye of the hook and gently fold back six inches of wire, making sure not to kink it at the bend. Lay the tag end over the standing wire and firmly hold the crossing point of the wires between your thumb and index finger.

NOTE: The size (diameter) of the loop at the end of the leader — or that containing the hook or swivel — can be determined by shortening or expanding the point where the wires initially intersect. Keep this in mind prior to making that first wrap.

Step 2
Begin a series of haywire twists. First make sure the tag end and standing wire are nearly parallel to each other, yet slightly and evenly spread apart. Next, simultaneously twist the wire tag and standing wire while firmly holding the point where the two strands initially intersect. As the twists progress, slide your fingers closer to the wraps and continue the pressure. A tight grip close to the twists makes it easier to twist the wire, helps keep it straight and prevents kinking.

Step 3
After about a half-dozen twists, begin a series of barrel wraps by first bending the tag end of the wire at a 90-degree angle to the twists. Then, make a series of tight wraps against the twists.

Step 4
After making four or five barrel wraps, form a "crank handle" in the wire tag by bending an inch or so of its tip at a 90-degree angle to the main loop in the wire. Work the wire tag back and forth between the main loop in the leader and the standing wire. After a few series of half-rotations, the wire tag will break free at the base of the barrel wrap, leaving a smooth finish.
The haywire twist is most often used when offshore trolling, particularly when fabricating pin rigs for trolling ballyhoo. Should you wish to position a hook farther back in a bait — to foil short-striking fish like wahoo and king mackerel — simply increase the number of haywire twists. For example, when I'm rigging ballyhoo for wahoo, I'll often put as many as 20 haywire twists in the leader. This places more distance between the hook and pin rig, enabling me to position the hook in the middle or rear half of the bait.
Bad Ties
I learned the importance of mastering the haywire twist early in my fishing career. I was in my late teens and trolling off Key Largo with a friend. We put out a spread of ballyhoo and one swimming mullet with a chin weight. I had rigged all the baits on wire. Unfortunately, my twists were far from perfect, as I was just learning how to make them. In fact, they resembled more of a loose barrel wrap.

Well, something big hit that mullet that day and screamed off a lot of 50-pound-test line. Looking back today, my guess would be a tuna. However, as I clutched the rod and eagerly awaited the fish to slow down, the line suddenly went slack! I reeled up only to notice that my wrapsÊwhich secured the hook to my wire leader unraveled under the pressure. After that trip, I learned the twist perfectly. Had I done it earlier, we just may have boated that fish.
— George Poveromo