Anchor Snubber Bridle Hooks & Other Attachment Methods

Connecting the Snubber to the Rode

There are as many opinions about snubber-to-chain attachment methods as there are about snubber and bridle line sizing. Many folks prefer the rolling hitch or simple eye grab chain hook, while others profess hooks explicitly designed for snubbing. Soft shackles and slings with stopper knots are becoming more common. Like boats, there's no perfect solution, and there's always a trade-off. We'll explore a few options here.

The Problem with Hooks

Steel hooks are the most common method of attaching a snubber or bridle to an anchor chain, but there are a few issues common to most hooks. Unknown or untrustworthy load ratings, the hook's impact on the chain's load capacity, its ability to stay attached, and provisions for only one shackle pin in most hooks make them problematic when used on bridles.

Many chain hooks used in US transportation and lifting industries comply with ASTM International's (formerly American Society for Testing and Materials) testing standards and conform with minimums of certain alloying elements to meet these standards. Most US manufacturers use these widely accepted standards to rate their products. However, Chinese-made hooks are flooding the market. While they frequently have load limits on them, if the manufacturer is unknown, it's challenging to determine if the hook was actually tested. If it was tested, which standard was used? Are the load ratings trustworthy? It's common to see foreign made investment cast hooks with load limits equal to domestically manufactured forged hooks. This doesn't add up (forged is usually stronger than cast). For chain hooks made by or for the domestic marine industry specifically for snubbing, only a few manufacturers publish load limits. The problem posed by the lack of or unreliable load ratings is determining if the hook will meet estimated loads (i.e. the working load limits of the rope, shackle and hook should all be similarly rated to meet the estimated load imposed by the boat).

How a chain hook attaches to an anchor chain can impact the chain's strength. If the hook cradles the link it tends to be stronger because it distributes the load over a greater area of the link's surface. Non-cradling hooks contact the link at a couple of small points on the surface, thus point-loading the chain link. Non-cradling hooks can reduce the chain's capacity by 25% or more. However, there's little evidence - scientific or anecdotal - that hooks used in snubbers or bridles break chains. If the snubber or bridle is sized appropriately, the nylon rope legs should be the weak point in the system even when you account for the 25% reduction in chain strength from point-loading.

Hooks falling off is evidenced by the peculiar designs of snubber hooks. I have not documented every time someone's mentioned a hook falling off, but it seems there's a story for most hooks out there. If it has a keeper, there's usually an issue with it malfunctioning, getting damaged or needing replacement. I have not personally experienced a chain hook falling off, but I'm assuming it's not an "if" but a "when" scenario.

Finally, most hooks are made to accomodate a single shackle which is problematic when attaching bridles with two independent lines. Since there's insufficient space in the hook's eye for two shackles, it takes a disproportionately large and expensive shackle to accomodate two legs. There's more about this on the Anchor Snubber Bridle Design page.

What to Look for in a Snubber Hook

  1. Reputable manufacturer
  2. Load rating derived from an industry-accepted testing standard if possible. No load rating? Refer to first bullet.
  3. Forged is preferred; cast can be alright if sized appropriately for the load
  4. How the hook contacts the chain - does it cradle the link or is the contact area small?
  5. Is it easy to attach to and remove from the chain?
  6. Does it roll over and clear the bow roller assembly, or does it require a contortionist to weave through the pulpit to deploy it?
  7. Stainless and galvanized are nice but difficult to find in industry lifting hooks

Snubber Attachment Methods

Industrial Lifting Hooks - Method #1

As mentioned above, hooks used in the lifting and transportation industries are rated, and they generally use the same standards for testing as established by ATSM. Standardized ratings make it easy to reliably match hooks with other snubber or bridle components to meet the estimated load. When selecting industrial hooks, look for cradle grab versus straight grab hooks. As the name suggests, the cradle hooks tend to contact a large surface area of the link, so the loss in chain strength is reduced. Lifting hooks like the G80 tend to fit tightly, making them less likely to fall off. On the other hand, non-cradling grab hooks catch the link in the slot with minimal contact area which point loads the link. Another concern with industrial hooks is few are made from stainless steel and most are painted or treated steel. Maintaining the hook's finish becomes a maintenance issue in the marine environment. [Images below L to R: G70 grab, G80 cradle, G120 cradle]

industrial g70 grab hook industrial g80 cradle hook industrial g120 cradle hook

Hooks Designed for Anchor Snubbers - Method #2

Manufacturer:

Suncor Stainless

Product Name/Number:

Snubber Hook / S0191-0007, 008, 010

Link to Product Page:

Suncor Anchor Snubber

Sizes (in/mm*):

1/4", 5/16", 3/8" chain

Material/Process:

316 Stainless Steel / Cast

Notes:

Well made cast stainless steel hook from a well known US marine hardware manufacturer. The design is similar to one of the early Mantus designs. Not load rated but they get bonus points given their reputation for quality.

suncor anchor snubber and bridle hook

Manufacturer:

CS Johnson

Product Name/Number:

Captain Hook / 46-465-5, 46-475-5

Link to Product Page:

CS Johnson Captain Hook

Sizes (in/mm*):

Small - 1/4" & 5/16" chain, Large - 3/8" & 1/2" chain

Material/Process:

316 Stainless Steel / Not Provided

Notes:

Easy to attach and shouldn't hang up in the bow roller. There are a couple of reviews from folks claiming the prongs on the larger hook splayed out in heavy weather, making the hook ill-fitting and unreliable. Not load rated. There are Chinese copies of this hook out there but I have no knowledge of their capacity or performance.

cs johnson captain anchor snubber and bridle hook

Manufacturer:

Seadog

Product Name/Number:

Chain Gripper Plate / 321850

Link to Product Page:

Seadog Chain Gripper Plate

Sizes (in/mm*):

5/16", 3/8", 7/16", 1/2" chain

Material/Process:

316 Stainless Steel / Investment Cast

Notes:

For bridles with two independent legs only (great for strength and redundancy) but is spec'd with two large forged bow shackles (Seadog part #147212) making the overall product expensive. Most homemade hooks I've seen are variations of this plate-type design. Not load rated.

seadog anchor snubber and bridle plate

Manufacturer:

Victory Products, Osculati & Various Chinese Companies

Product Name/Number:

Victory Hook / CH2303, CH2304, Osculati 01.744.06, 01.744.10

Link to Product Page:

Victory Chain Hook
Osculati Hook

Sizes (in/mm*):

Small - 1/4"-5/16", Large-3/8"/10-12mm (does not fit US 1/2") chain

Material/Process:

316 Stainless Steel / Cast

Notes:

Giant eye provides flexibility: it can be used for a snubber with the hard eye made directly on the hook or a hard eye with shackle. It can also be used with a spliced Y bridle or 2 independent-legged bridles. The large hook can be a little cantankerous to get on/off with 3/8" chain, but it cradles the link well. The larger hook does not clear some bow rollers. Not load rated.
Update: Various Chinese companies have started making this hook and most support US 1/2" chains where the original Victory hook does not.

victory anchor snubber and bridle hook

Manufacturer:

Mantus Marine

Product Name/Number:

M2 Chain Hook / M2SSH14A, M2SSH516A, M2SSH38A, M2SSH12A

Link to Product Page:

Mantus M2 Chain Hook

Sizes (in/mm*):

1/4", 5/16", 3/8", 1/2" chain

Material/Process:

2205 Duplex Stainless Steel / Not Provided

Notes:

Usual thoughtful design, high-quality and high strength product you'd expect from the folks at Mantus. Cradles chain link to preserve chain strength and comes with a heavy duty shackle and a keeper strap to ensure the hook stays attached. Straps will likely need to be replaced periodically and are ~$2 - $5 depending on size. Product is load rated and WLL is similar to the WLL of the hook's respective chain size.

mantus m2 anchor snubber and bridle hook

Manufacturer:

Wichard Marine

Product Name/Number:

Chain Grip / #2984, #2985, #2986

Link to Product Page:

Wichard Chain Grips

Sizes (in/mm*):

Small - 1/4"(All Types Chain)/8mm, 5/16"(G3,G4 only)/10mm, Large-5/16"(All Types) 3/8"(G3, G4 only)/12mm

Material/Process:

2205 Duplex Stainless Steel / Not Provided

Notes:

Small and compact hook with keeper pin to prevent it from falling off the chain. This product is made to metric standards so use care when purchasing for US/Imperial chain sizes. Product is load rated but could not determine standard used for testing (appears to be ATSM Int'l). I know of one incident where the keeper pin bent making it difficult to remove from the chain. As of 2/1/22, Wichard has an updated version of this hook. Details to follow.

wichard anchor snubber and bridle gripper hook

Manufacturer:

Kong

Product Name/Number:

Chain Gripper

Link to Product Page:

Kong Chain Gripper

Sizes (in/mm*):

5mm-12mm (could not find good source for US/Imperial equivalents / chain types)

Material/Process:

316 Stainless Steel / Not Provided

Notes:

Has a slot for the link and a captive pin to secure the link in the slot. I have no knowledge of anyone using a Kong Chain Gripper so I can't speak to it's performance. It is load rated but unsure of testing standard used to rate it. Made for metric sized chains so use care when purchasing for US/Imperial chains.

kong anchor snubber and bridle gripper hook

Manufacturer:

Ultra Marine West

Product Name/Number:

Ultra Chain Grab

Link to Product Page:

Ultra Chain Grab

Sizes (in/mm*):

5mm-12mm (could not find good source for US/Imperial equivalents / chain types)

Material/Process:

316 Stainless Steel / Not Provided

Notes:

High-quality hook that fits chain sizes to 3/4” (18mm). It can be removed from loaded chain and claims to roll through the bow roller without incident. Not load rated and expensive. Update 2/11/22, manufacturer's rep at the Seatle Boat Show stated they are discontinuing these hooks. Will remove this hook on next update to this page.

ultra anchor snubber and bridle chain grab

Shackles - Method #3

One method we're hearing more about is the use of Dyneema in various configurations in lieu of hooks. Soft shackles seem to be the most common but there are also simple loops with stopper knots where you thread the loop through the chain link and then attach it to a shackle. Dyneema should be ideal in this application because of it's high strength and resistance to abrasion, not to mention it's inexpensive (at least in the quantity needed for this application) and lightweight. 48° North Marine is currently testing a soft shackle for use as a snubber and we hope to have it available in fall 2022.

Certainly not a common method, but some folks prefer to use a steel shackle with a captive pin that runs through the chain link. The key words here are "captive pin". Simplicity has it's advantages but I would need to carry spare shackles as they would eventually find their way overboard. If using a shackle, it might be worth getting one with the largest oversize pin that would go through the chain link and having a multi-purpose deck or shackle tool handy to tighten the pin.
[Images below: Dyneema soft shackle w/ anti-chafing, Suncor anchor shackle]

soft shackle for use on snubber or bridle anchor shackle for use on snubber or bridle

Old Fashioned Knots & Hitches - Method #4

A good solution is often the simpliest one. A case in point is the knot or hitch - simple, inexpensive and relatively secure. No thimbles, shackles or splices. A well-tied knot is probably the least likely to fall off the rode when compared to a steel hook and they have little or no impact on chain strength. As with all things, knots are not perfect. While most are secure, some are difficult to tie, some can slip and others are difficult to untie, especially when wet and previously loaded. Additionally, knots can weaken the rope by 50% or more. A few common knots:

Rolling Hitch - Many of the old salts swear by this hitch and it's probably the most popular of the knots used for snubbing an anchor. It's easy to tie and unlikely to fall off but can slip in stong winds. The rolling hitch can be tied comfortably on deck and veered over the anchor roller but can be difficult to untie after being wet and loaded.

Icicle Hitch - The icicle hitch can be difficult to tie at first but it holds well under loads. It can be difficult to remove after being loaded and wet.

Prussik Knot - The Prussik knot requires a loop of rope which is then looped around the rode and passed back through itself three times. Once made, the remaining bit of loop is secured to the hard eye of the snubber with a shackle. The Prussik is easy to tie and remove, is secure and can be veered over the anchor roller if some tension is maintained. Be sure the working load limit of the loop exceeds your overall load requirements. If you're making the loop yourself, splice the ends together or use a low impact knot like the double fisherman's bend and consider the impact of each on overall strength.

Final Considerations for Snubber Hooks

Once you understand the load your boat will create on the snubber or bridle, size the rope, shackles and hook appropriately. Use the working load limit of the various components and not their tensile or break strength. Spend time researching the right size for the line (see our Snubber Size Calculator page) as right-sizing the line is important to get the desired benefit; over and under-sizing lines can be detrimental. Consider over-sizing the hardware (not the lines) slightly to build in a safety factor. Buy forged components where possible and use heavy-duty thimbles for boats that are considered heavy for their respective size. Heavy duty thimbles are significantly more expensive in the larger rope sizes but they will retain their shape and preserve rope strength. Since many of the popular snubber hooks are not load rated, the hook often is the wildcard component in the system, which is somewhat discomforting. Luckily, we rarely hear or read about hook failures. Frankly, I'm more concerned about one falling off than failing.

*Metric equivalents are included where published by the manufacturer. I did not perform conversions.


Doug Neil
48° North Marine

Publish Date: 11/17/2020
Last Update: 6/16/2022