How to Choose and Use a Trigger Sailboat Shackle | Expert Advice

Trigger release shackles come in various sizes and configurations that are ideal for jib or spinnaker halyards, spinnaker sheets and guys, and tack lines; or jobs where you would want to release the shackle under load.  More efficient than the snap shackle, the trigger shackle has a streamlined design with no external parts to catch, so they run smoothly. The release mechanism, the trigger, is located inside the housing of the shackle making it very unlikely that it will catch and accidentally open. Another advantage to the trigger shackle is that it is generally stronger and more compact than a snap shackle.


A trigger shackle is made up of a hinged bail, the shackle body with the trigger house within, and a swiveling bail.  Lines are attached, or spliced, to the swiveling bail.  With the shackle open, insert the sail attachment point (ring or eye) into the shackle housing and close the shackle until you feel it snap into its locked position.  Inside the shackle housing is a small spring loaded trigger that, when pressed, opens the bail and releases the sail.


Release Fid

Release Fids

One advantage to the trigger shackle is being able to release under load. To release under load, use a fid. When releasing it under load, there are 2 reasons to use a fid: 1) It is difficult to actuate the trigger with just your finger while the shackle is highly loaded 2) You should keep your fingers away from the recoil of the shackle to prevent injury. A fid is conical pin or spike. Insert the fid into the space where the trigger is to depress the trigger and open the shackle.



The standard bail is the most popular. With a standard size bail in relation to the shackle, you should choose your size based on the appropriate working load (not breaking load). Standard bail trigger shackles are ideal for a jib halyard, a spinnaker halyard, spinnaker sheet, or a spinnaker tack line.

Large bail trigger shackles are designed for spinnaker sheets and guys. When spliced to the guy, you can snap the spinnaker sheet shackle to the larger bail used for the sheet.  Another option is to splice both your sheet and guy to one large bail shackle, allowing you to save weight and simplify spinnaker attachment, but you do lose the flexibility of detaching the sheet and guy separately which is helpful if the wind lightens up or you are preparing for a ‘peel’ to another spinnaker.

A clevis bail trigger shackle is perfect for a permanent application where you want it to stay with the boat. These are very popular to attach a jib to the bottom of a furler drum.


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