Know the Ropes

Correct handling and installation is crucial in order to get the most from specialist trawl warps and purse wires. Poor practice can lead to unexpected abrasion, making ropes wear too quickly or unevenly; costing time and money and putting expensive equipment at risk.

Bridon International is a global technology leader in the supply of steel wire ropes to the fishing industry, catering to customers of all shapes and sizes: from smaller state-of-the-art vessels (such as the Victoria May, featured in last week’s edition of Fishing News which uses 22mm Bridon Dyform 6x26 FFC)through to the largest serving trawler in the world, the Annelies Ilena, which uses 44mm Bridon Dyform 6x26 IWRC.

Simon Dixon, Bridon’s Fishing sector sales manager, shares some of Bridon’s top tips for preventing costly mechanical damage and boosting wire rope performance.


  • During long periods of storage, particularly in warm environments, rotate the reel periodically to prevent migration and uneven dispersal of lubricant in the rope

Groove profiles

  • Before installation, check that the grooves in the sheaves are the correct shape and size for the new rope. Commonly when a new rope is fitted, a difference in size from the old worn rope will be apparent, and the new rope will not fit correctly into the worn groove profile, leading to unnecessary wear and rope damage.
  • To prevent this, machine out the grooves before the new rope is fitted. To work out the optimum groove diameter for a sheave, take the diameter of the rope to be installed and add 10%.


  • Apply the correct amount of back tension during installation. A lack of tension in spooling or uneven winding will cause lower layers to be forced upwards causing crushing and distortion of the rope at cross-over zones
  • Apply 5-10% of the maximum breaking load of the rope as back tension when installing the rope onto the winch
  • Avoid reverse ‘S’ type bending, closeness of sheaves, use of support or guide rollers and contact angles of less than 45˚

Top Tips for specific applications:

  • For larger vessels with auto trawl systems and longer rope lengths the rope must be installed under as much tension as is safe and practical.
  • Deploy larger diameter ropes in deep water first, and apply the correct amount of back tension before first use. “Running-in” the rope in this way will optimise its performance.
  • Smaller vessels using simple winch systems and shorter rope lengths may install ropes using a braked reel, go to sea, shoot the gear and use the tension generated to achieve good spooling
  • Twin rigged vessels with three drums on one shaft must ensure that all three ropes are installed and tensioned simultaneously to avoid irregularities
  • The reel stand should be positioned to maintain a fleet angle of between 0.25 degrees and 2.5 degrees
  • The direction of coiling on the drum should be related to the direction of lay of the rope. Use the Rule of Thumb (Fig 1) to ensure correct coiling