Rope Clutches

Lewmar Domino ClutchAs most things in life, there are pluses and minuses. Lewmar and Spinlock clutches are no exception.  Let’s have a look……

Lewmar boasts of their “domino” style locking mechanism. Spinlock raves about their cam being a superior rope grabbing mechanism. Well, both are pretty cool and both have their place, let’s have a look…

One of the downsides to the Lewmar clutch, other than it is a nightmare to reeve, is that it is very sensitive to rope size. With Lewmar there is a different size clutch for almost every two sizes of rope. One of the downsides of Spinlock is it can chew up rope over a long period of static cleating. However, Spinlock rope clutches will cleat a wide range of rope sizes and run very freely when not clutched down. With Lewmar clutches getting rid of all of the friction is very hard to do, whether clutched or not. This could be a problem for a line that needs to run freely, but could be a plus for a slippery line that has trouble staying cleated.

Spinlock Rope Clutches

So which one is better than the other. The answer is they are both great clutches. For static load halyards, such as those that pertain to headsail or in-mast furlers where the halyard is left untouched for most of the season, Lewmar is probably the best choice. For applications where the rope needs to be able to run freely immediately, Spinlock comes in first.

Don’t forget, Lewmar clutch levers open toward you and Spinlock clutches open away from you, keep that in mind when fitting a new clutch in tight spots, like behind the dodger on the cabin top.

UPDATE: Check out Spinlock’s BRAND NEW XTR CLUTCH!

NEW Spinlock XTR Clutch Side Mount
They have the exact same hole pattern as the XTS (pictured above)!
NEW Spinlock XTR Clutch
They come in Citrus, White, Black, and Silver!


Have a question or a comment? Leave us a few words below.


5 thoughts on “Rope Clutches

  1. Hi, I have an aluminum mast on a 38 foot boat with the winches mounted on the mast. I want to mount a double clutch on either side of the mast to manage halyards. What is the best way to mount the clutches? Tap screws, rivets, or somehow get bolts up inside the mast?
    Also, I’m leaning toward the Spinlocks even though everything using the clutches is a halyard because I feel in time I may be going to smaller diameter, lower stretch lines. Does that make sense?

    1. Hi David,

      Thanks for patiently awaiting a reply. It’s been a mad house.

      Drill and tap is the right answer here. That’s how it’s done. Also Spinlock makes a great clutch, you won’t go wrong (it’s probably our most sold clutch, even in prolonged static load applications); especially, when considering broader size ranges.


  2. Hi, how do i fit a rope clutch to a carbon mast.
    I suppose i have to drill and tap for the securing bolts to screw in…but how do i secure the rope clutch where it cannot fit through the surface ( like a deck) but into a surface? What rope clutch comes with easy access to the bolt securing area? Regards Anton.

    1. Hi Anton,

      Thanks for the question. We would drill and tap into the carbon but is a threaded insert like a HeliCoil or the like. This will provide the threads with some grip.

      Hope that helps.


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