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How to Attach Cable to Winch Drum

There are numerous ways to attach the cable to the winch drum, depending on the winch make and model. Connecting a cable to the winch drum must be carried out carefully to prevent any unforeseen circumstances when winching a vehicle.

Whether it is your first time working with a winch or replacing the cable for your winch, you have to ensure that the winch cable is attached or spooled around the drum tightly before undertaking any winching operations.

Do not merely attach or leave the winch cable hanging loose or unwound. With this article, you can find different methods to attach a cable to the winch drum. 

Safety Precautions: Take extra caution in every winching situation. Please familiarize yourself with the operation of your winch before using it. Keeping a constant focus is more critical. Always wear heavy-duty leather gloves when handling the winch.

Select The Winch Rope Type

Attaching Cable to the Winch Drum

This careful procedure requires you to take extra caution and put on heavy-duty gloves when handling the cable. In case you are replacing the old cable, the frayed surfaces could make a strong impression on your bare hands.

Before Attaching a Cable to Winch Drum:

(i) Ensure to have a proper steel cable or a synthetic rope required for your winch.

(ii) If you have an exiting cable on the drum, remove it with free spooling by disengaging the clutch or lever.

(iii) For a fresh install, attach the winch cable before mounting it on the vehicle. In case of replacement, remove the fairlead for having better access during installation.

Synthetic Rope Attachment

If you have a synthetic rope, follow the below methods to attach the rope to the winch drum.

Rope Grabber

Rope Grabber is a winch line grabber with double-sided tape that attaches to the drum. Grabber is a universal fit for all winch brands and allows a simple mounting solution without any mounting bolts for the cable.

Bubba Rope Grabber Installation

  • The Rope Grabber comes with a small loophole opening on either end of it.
  • First, attach the rope grabber to the drum.
  • Keep the end of the winch rope sealed to help to get it inside the loop with ease. If you have any eyelets or metal ends, remove them.
  • Run the winch rope through one end of the grabber.
  • Do at least 5 to 6 wraps before feeding it through the other loop of the grabber. These wraps will not allow you to unroll under your pulling.
  • Once wrapped and installed, it keeps the rope securely in place.

Watch Instructional Video

Allen Screw

Securing the end of the rope with an Allen head screw on the side of the winch drum. If your winch has this specification, ensure that your winch rope has a ring terminal at the end of the rope.

Winch Cable Installation

  • Feed the winch rope through the drum and underneath it. Make a simple knot.
  • Use the slack and wrap 4 to 5 times around the drum.
  • Pull the rope tight and make a final knot at the end of the slack.
  • Remove the Allen screw and then lock the cable in place by tightening the Allen screw firmly.
  • Hold the rope tight to tighten up the slack for better tension.

Watch Instructional Video

Steel Cable Attachment

If you have steel cable, follow the below methods to attach the cable to the winch drum. The cable can be connected with side clamps or wound around the outside of the winch drum, depending on the type of winch drum you have.

Allen Head Screw

If the winch drum is of the Allen-set Screw type, you will find three holes on the winch drum. With this, you have to feed the end of the winch cable through the drum’s hole, from the inside of the drum to the outside, and secure it with the screw.

Allen-set Screw Winch Wire Installation

  • First, you have to make sure the rope ends are free from any eyelets.
  • Cut the wire, seal it off with some fire, and tape the rope end for ease of insertion inside the hole.
  • Now feed the cable through the threaded hole(1) of the winch drum until it comes on the other hole(3).
  • Then use the Allen wrench to tighten the set screw onto the hole(2), which is perpendicular to the cable.
  • Ensure that you have at least 2 to 3 wraps around the drum when you are winching to keep the rope in place.

Loop and Metal-bead

  • Feed the winch cable through the opening of the locking mechanism on the drum.
  • Allow enough cable to go through to ensure you can make a loop out of it.
  • Bending the cable into a U-shape, thread it back through the same slot.
  • Make sure you put the Metal-bead through the looped space before tightening or pulling back on the free end of the cable to ascertain a firm locked position.


  • At one end of your cable, about 2 inches from the end, make a U-shaped loop with the help of some pliers.
  • Thread this end through the oblong slot on the side-plate of the winch drum, from the inside.
  • Position cable by taking it around the outside of the drum so that the U-shaped end aligns right above the square-shaped hole.
  • Put the cable clamp bolt through the square hole from the inside and place a winged clamp on the bolt’s outer side.
  • The U-shaped cable must fit firmly under the winged clamp’s wings before you secure the nut onto the bolt, using a suitable wrench.
  • Pull back on the cable to remove any slack before winding up the cable onto the drum.

Lever Release

  • Some winch drums come with a release lever on the side of the drum, from where the cable is to be inserted, that holds the cable clamp jaws in place.
  • First, open this lever, then pass the cable over the top of the drum to the back and then from the top of the winch spool towards the back.
  • Thread the end of the cable through the side-slot and place it between the clamp jaws.
  • Close the release lever to lock the cable in place firmly.
  • After the winch cable’s attachment to the winch drum, you have to attach the hook to the cable and then carefully reel in and wind the cable around the winch drum securely before you start winching.

Tip: Ensure a slow and steady approach when undertaking the whole process; hasty work can end up in unnecessary faults or incidents. Also, to be on the safe side, leave about 5 to 10 feet cable-free than you would typically require to deal with any odd situations.

Winches serve as a convenient tool for recovery tasks but are also used for daily heavy-duty tasks to lug around bulky vehicles or backyard utilities. They are compact tools, packing a lot of power with convenient features that make work much more comfortable. It is recommended to take necessary precautions while handling of attaching a cable to the winch drum.

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