Rope Clutches

As 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…

Lewmar Rope Clutch DC1 and DC2

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.


Oversized Line?

 Antal makers of some of Italy’s finest sailboat hardware has some clutches worth mentioning. In choosing a clutch manufacturer that can handle the bigger diameter lines, there is usually a VERY large price jump (Spinlock), or no option at all (Lewmar). However, when needing to cleat a line before the winch when using over 14mm (or 9/16″), Antal’s V-grip clutches come to the rescue with these very satisfactory/ price worthy clutches.

UPDATE, This just in… Antal just released their new QR Clutch. This clutch antal cloutches, qr clutches, installing clutches, rigging clutchespromises higher load capacity, less line wear, but more importantly a quicker way to release by creating a two finger release for fully loaded lines. This is a big plus if you’ve ever tried to open a full loaded clutch. With most rope clutches you’ll notice that the load has to be taken off by the winch first in order to ease the line (click here for more info) Nice work Antal!! One downside is it appears that the clutches are very diameter specific, not a huge deal but pay attention to this. Also the lever opens towards the load, away from you, so be thoughtful of this when mounting under dodgers.



Spinlock Rope Clutches

So which one is better than the other? The answer is they are both (all three) 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 better choice. For applications where the rope needs to be able to run freely immediately, Spinlock comes in first.


PRO TIP: Don’t forget, Lewmar clutch levers open toward you and Spinlock (and Antal) 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!



 Having trouble with your new or smaller lines slipping? Introducing  Spinlock’s BRAND NEW XTR 08-12mm CLUTCH!

NEW Spinlock XTR Clutch Side Mount

NEW Spinlock XTR Clutch

Promising more holding power due to their radically different Reactor Cam Mechanism. Easy to service, easy to flush, easy to mount, strong, lightweight, and many cool colors to choose from.

We’ve already replaced a few slippery clutches with these and have witnessed the improvement first hand! Ask our friendly sales staff for more details.



TECH NOTE: The bolt hole pattern is an exact match to that of Spinlock’s XTS and XCS models for easy replacement.


Need some new clutches or just have a question? Leave us a few words below or give us a call us.


15 thoughts on “Rope Clutches

  1. Hi, You guys seem to be the rope clutch experts. I am prototyping and need a rope clutch for a small rope (e.g. 4mm or 5mm) for a very light duty application. No life safety or equipment damage involved. Is there a product in your inventory for such?

  2. I need to “cheek mount” a couple of clutches in the cockpit for runners. Which clutch models would allow this? I guess they would need to be flat-sided and have side screw holes.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      I know that Spinlock offers a solution that we’ve used many times.. Click link here for more information…

      It also appears that our friends at Antal offer a solution as well….

      We can sell and ship these to you anywhere in the world also if you are interested. Shoot us an email at or simply call us at 443-847-1004 to place an order. We’d be glad to help.

      Hope that helps.


  3. I have a 1981, 33 ft Tartan. How to tell which clutch mfg I have by looking, There is no name on the unit. three clutches are bolted together on each side of the companionway, The halyards slip.

  4. Looking to add clutch for genoa halyard on furler. 44’ liveabaord cruiser.
    Mast is keel stepped. How do u suggest mounting the clutch?

    1. Hi Hal,

      Thanks for the question. Do you want to mount it on the mast or the cabin top? If it’s on the mast, and the mast is aluminum, just drill and tap. Then fasten it using Marine grade fasteners and some sealant to isolate screw threads. The clutch you buy should tell you what size fast are required.

      Hope that helps.


  5. I need a rope clutch for 3/8″ halyard, Should I buy a clutch with 3/8″ as the upper range?

  6. 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.


  7. 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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