How To Tune Your Fur Traps: Save Time And Money

Keeping your fur traps tuned in the offseason will save you time and money when you go to set your trapline.

Follow these simple steps and your traps will last you longer and work they way they should every time you set them.

Get A Crisp Trigger

You put in tons of effort setting your trapline, placing your sets and baiting them to lure in your game. Why wouldn’t you also put in the effort to make sure your traps work when you need them?

A nice crisp snap of the trigger will ensure you don’t throw your effort in setting your trapline away. A trigger should fire immediately. And it should fire without travel when pressure is applied to the trigger.

While there is plenty of debate about how much pressure is best for each species, you want to have your trap set so that you get more pad catches and fewer toe grabs and misses.

A trap with too much travel will give your target warning the trap is set allowing them to pull away before it closes.

And in the case of coyotes, a toe catch won’t hold them for long.

When using a coilspring rig there are brass screws that allow you to tighten the pan pressure. You can do fine tuning with this screw and keep the pan play to a minimum.

When using a longspring, you may have a pan crimped at the base plate without a screw.

If tuning an old longspring I recommend putting on new PAWS-I-TRIP pans. This upgrade will turn any old longspring into a fine tuned fur harvesting machine.

Tuning Old Longspring Traps

First step in tuning your traps is to check the jaws and springs for proper alignment. If they are bent or off kilter then you need to replace them.

With longsprings, make sure both springs are up to the top of the jaws. If they are not up to the top of the jaws then your target will be able to slip their paw out.

If you have traps without an adjustment screw, the pan will develop play from side to side over time. When this happens you will not be able to adjust the pan pressure and it’s time to replace the pan.

You can adjust them though if you have an anvil and hammer handy. To do so, set the frame where it attaches to the pan on your anvil.

Tap the opposite edge of the frame lightly with your hammer. Tap where the pan goes into the frame. Just continue to tap until the pan gap is closed.

Keep in mind, the less of a gap you have, the tighter the pan pressure will be. This is the old school way of adjusting pan pressure.

Tuning Coilspring Traps

coilspring trap schematic

To tune your coildspring (and most longspring) trap by starting out with where the dog loops around the trap frame. If there is any back and forth play it needs to be tightened.

If there is play you will not be able to quickly set your trap with a level pan.

Tighten so the footholds are level with the pan when set.

To tighten it up by using a vise to close the loop. After tightening, make sure the loop rolls around the frame easily.

Now use the vise to clamp the dog flat. Make sure the trigger end is up and use a file to square it. Be sure that the end is perpendicular with the length.

Next make the bottom of the dog beveled at a 45 degree angle. When the trap is set, the bevel should be at the bottom side.

Now bend the dog in a V shape between the frame and the notch. When the trap is set the V will be located within the jaw. This will make the dog point up to the notch.

Now you will need to address the notch. You will need two files for this step.

One file should be a bit thicker than the notch and the other the same thickness as the notch.

Use the small file to square off the end of the notch. Only take off enough to square it.

Next use the small file on the inside of the notch. Square it off and leave the top of the notch flat.

Now take your large file and place it at the bottom of the notch. File the top of the notch a little bit. This will create a rest for your dog when the trap is set.

Start off taking very little off and test the dog. It should set firmly but the trap should snap freely.

Adjusting Your Pan

If your pan is too high when set you can bend the frame down where it is attached to the dog. The pan should be level with the jaws when set.

A pan that is too low can get dirt in it when places, preventing it from firing appropriately. A pan set too high will not bed properly.

If your trap has a spring screw, it can be used to adjust the pan tension.


Now you should have a fully tuned trap that will work how you need it to. A well tuned trap will set level and easily as well as trigger without any delay. This will lead to a larger harvest and make the life of your traps much longer.

For more trapping tips check out these articles

Written by Fred

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