Cable pulling technology – correct application

Laying of cables

Installation of telecommunication, data communication, energy and aerial cables for intercom and video equipment is daily practice in residential and industrial buildings and represents basic operations in electrical installation. As a well proved supporting equipment Greenlee fish tapes deliver an optimal performance in this field. This report will give you a summary on the various types, the individual advantages and the areas of application.


Nylon and Perlon® fish tapes: Cheap and usable for many applications
Steel fish tapes: Very robust and flexible  
Fibreglass fish tapes: Extremely high pressure-thrust  
Fibreglass fish sticks: Precise insertion for long distances 
Polyester fish tapes: Flexible and extremely low frictional resistance

Nylon- and Perlon® Fish Tapes

These fish tapes are widely used due to theirs cost-efficiency and their universal applicability. The main difference between Nylon and Perlon® lies in the chemical consistence. Nylon is made of Hexamethylendiamin while Perlon® is made of Caprolactam. Both Nylon and Perlon® Fish Tapes are confined to areas where no excessive impact and drag forces are given. In addition they show an increased friction resistance and their wear and tear is higher than of other fish tapes, e.g. steel fish tapes or polyester fish tapes. Nevertheless they are recommended for occasional fishing operations.

Steel Fish Tapes

Steel Fish Tapes are very robust and combine high flexibility and rigidity. Thus they are perfectly suited for heavy duty pulling operations over long distances.

Remark: Due to conductivity given any contact of steel fish tapes with live conductors has to be avoided.

Fibreglass fish tapes

These fish tapes consist of individual fibre glass which are incorporated in an elastic polyester resin and are being bounded by an ordinary lay coil to a compact core. This rippled surface absorbs the surface tension and the bending strain. The coating of high abrasion-resistant Polypro-pylen as a low-friction coating reduces the friction resistance.

Fibreglass fish tapes feature a very high pressure-thrust and are the preferred material for installation of telecommunication and data communication cables. They can be adapted to the individual requirements at site works, e.g. the thicker the fibreglass tape, the higher is the pressure-thrust.

Remark: When pulling or pushing every sharp bend has to be avoided. Any excessive bending can destroy the tape.

For a proper storage Greenlee offers fibreglass fish tapes in Speedy Spinner housings resp. on Smart Butler reels. For regular use fish tapes in winder cases are being recommended. These winder cases allow a fast pulling and coiling of the tape and therefore a faster work progress. In addition the tapes – up to a length of 40 m – are “properly” stored in the housing and well protected which results in a longer product lifetime.

Fibreglass Fish Sticks

Fibreglass Fish Sticks offer a very high pressure-thrust and enable an easy pulling and pushing of cables in cavity floors, hollow ceilings, in drywalls and conduits where no ducting e.g. empty tubes are available.

Threaded together the straight rods allow a precise operation over long distances. Multiple accessories such as LED lamp, magnets or special hooks complete the system.

Polyester-Fish Tapes

Polyester-Fish Tapes are very flexible. High-grade finishes with triple drilled tapes as offered by Greenlee do not only feature an extremely low friction but are also nearly unbreakable. The breaking load increases with increasing diameter. A 4,5 mm tape represents a breaking load of 2,5 kN and a tape of 6 mm approx. 5 kN. Apart from a high breaking load the tape also offers thrust stability which allows operation even in case of changes in direction resp. over long distances. Also in this case Greenlee offers the tape in winder cases – “Flexi Spinner” – for professional cable pulling with low effort and high time saving.

Remark: The weakest point of the Polyester Fish Tape is the pressed pulling eye. The strength of such a connection is normally below the breaking load of the tapes.

Comparison-chart: Nylon/Perlon® – Steel – Fibreglass – Polyester

Material (on av.) Suitable for tube diameter (on av.) Min. curve radius Pressure thrust Breaking load Operational drag with initial-/end sleeve
Nylon/Perlon® 3,0 mm 16 - 25 mm 80 mm + 200 kg 120 kg
Steel 4,0 mm 16 - 25 mm 80 mm + 250 kg 130 kg
Fibreglass 4,5 mm 40 - 60 mm 310 mm +++ 1200 kg 200 kg
Polyester 4,5 mm 16 - 32 mm 100 mm +++ 250 kg 130 kg

Practical Advice for cable pulling:

To guarantee a smooth operation on-site Greenlee offers various accessories:

With a cable pulling facility additional force can be applied to the tape in both pulling and pushing operations. This effectively reduces the strain on the hands.

The exchangeable fish tape leaders and pulling eyes can be adjusted to the on-site conditions and leave time for improvisa-tions.

Pulling grips ease the pulling of small and medium-sized cable diameters.Thus stripping and tying is no longer necessary. Es-pecially designed small pulling grips for the building technology >= 6 mm deliver the drag force to the entire length of the pulling grip. This is particularly recommended for the use of sensitive lines such as fibre optic cables.

Lubricant resp. lubricating foam applied to the tape prior to use will considerably reduce the friction resistance by approx. 80%.