Did you know that a winch’s capacity is rated with the first layer of rope on the drum? As the layers of rope on the drum increase, your pulling power decreases. So if you’ve got 100′ of rope on your winch, but only 20′ of line pulled out, you aren’t getting the winch’s full power.
Often times you don’t need your winch’s full capacity—you just need a tug. However, if you are really stuck and need all the power your winch offers, you’ll need to pull out more line. This means getting farther down towards that first layer of rope. And for the hardest pulls, you’ll want to get all the way down to that last layer, being sure to always keep five wraps of wire rope, or a full layer for synthetic rope, on the drum.
If you are in a tight space and don’t have the ability to pull out most of your rope, you can use a snatch block (or multiple snatch blocks) to double the line back to your vehicle, which will get more line off the drum. Those blocks will not only let you unspool more line, but also double your pulling power (or triple it if you’re using three blocks) due to mechanical advantage.
So remember: The more power you need, the more rope you’ll need to unspool, but keep enough rope on that drum!
For more winching techniques, download a copy of our Basic Guide to Winching Techniques and be sure to follow all proper winching safety procedures.