Twisting single strand wire leader is simple, yet takes a little practice to get the feel.
There is some variation in how tight or loose the twist can be but there is also a right and wrong with each aspect.
Too tight and you risk heating up and weakening the wire, but too loose and the twist can slide down under pressure causing failure. You must also match the weight of the wire with the pressure of the tackle you are using. I recommend using flat-jawed pliers while you’re getting the feel or when twisting heavier wire.
In the photos, I’m twisting a loop end to be hooked to a ball bearing snap swivel of the appropriate weight. Fold a generous tag end around on itself forming the size of your loop.
Grab the loop with the pliers in preparation for twisting. Flat-jawed pliers work better than say needle nose because they hold both legs of the wire equally and keep it secure during the process.
So here is where the feel comes in. Reach in with your free hand and slightly spread the wire at the pictured angle. Pinch down on the junction of the crossed wires and make a twist while maintaining a slight opposing pressure on the legs away from each other. You also want to be pulling away from the loop as you make the twist. You want the two wires to twist together, not one wrapping around the other. This is the most common mistake I see and it will slip under pressure.
Continue twisting the wire for and inch to inch and a half of twists. You will let go after each twist and reset your fingers. Your still spreading the legs apart slightly as you twist and pulling away to elongate the twists.
After your Haywire twist is long enough, you will bend the tag into a perpendicular position and begin a series of wraps around the wire. Now one leg is wrapping around the other in side-by-side coils.
This is called a barrel wrap and after about 5 to 6 wraps your twist is complete. Now you still have a long tag to deal with. You do not want to try and cut this, as it will leave a finger-slicing tag that will inevitably draw blood.
Hold the loop you created with the leader extending away from you. Take your pliers and bend a 90-degree bend in the tag out to the side as pictured. It should look like a reel handle. Grab the back of the loop with your pliers, taking care to not block the right side of the twists.
Grab the “handle” of the crank and crank it forward, just like you were reeling a reel. The wire will pop right at the twist, leaving a smooth break with no protruding tag. This takes a little practice to get quick. Keeping the pliers out of the way is key to getting a good turn on the crank. Dispose of these tags very carefully, as they will gladly go right through a shoe or foot if they end up in the carpet or stop a bilge pump impeller cold if they work their way into the bilge.
Get lots more how to tips from Capt. Scott on BD.