What Is A Fairlead On A Winch? – [A Comprehensive Guide 2023]

Every hero has a sidekick like a fairlead on winch the same formula applies to the winch.

Winches are superheroes, and they come in handy if you get stuck or find someone stuck.

A fairlead on a winch helping object used to guide rope, wire, or cable of a winch around an object to stop it from lateral movement.

Truck drivers move around the globe, and not every route is bread on butter.

Most of the time, they need help on the way toward their destination.

Winches come in handy in different situations and if you are an off-road truck driver, believe me, that winches are as important as your engine of the truck.

But not only a winch would be enough in all types of situations because sometimes you may have to move rocks or trees out of the way.

But towing such heavy objects can cause serious tension in the wire or cable of the winch, which decreases the capacity of winching.

It will not happen if you are using a fair lead because it removes the pressure off the cable and provides the necessary support to move the object out of the way.

The Main Objective Of Fairlead:

Fairlead removes the maximum constraints of a winch rope/wire/cable, reducing the lateral strain while winching heavy machinery or objects.

A fairlead on a winch are easy to install and come with the necessary hardware for fast and efficient working.

The best thing about Fairlead is that it guides the winch’s wire around the drum.

The main purpose is to reduce lateral strain and efficient spooling to reduce the maximum potential damage of rope due to tension.

Now Lets We Talk About Fairlead Types

Just as winches have types of supporting different situations, the Fairlead also has two different types of working accordingly in need.

Known for their efficiency in working relative winches, two types of Fairleads exist. 

One is Hawse Fairlead, and the other is Roller Fairlead, both of these are used with winches having steel cable wire.

1. Hawse Fairlead:

Hawse Fairlead

If the winches have a synthetic rope, then a hawse fairlead is the best option for support and reducing lateral strain.

They have rounded edges/corners and are made of aluminum, reducing potential damage while winching heavy objects.

The most obvious feature is that they are one part object which is strong enough to handle tension and will not break apart easily even under harsh conditional uses.

Hawse Fairlead is the best option for synthetic ropes winches because they have narrow openings that are good enough for sliding rope.

They feature efficient working and are quite lightweight, making them portable and easy to carry anywhere.

They are always lighter weight than roller fairlead and carry less hardware than roller fairlead.

Its use can reduce the lateral strain of around 40 lbs.

They are perfect for most winch sizes providing a better rope winching angle as compared to hard steel fairleads.

2. Roller Fairlead:

If your winches work with a steel wire cable, then a roller fairlead is what you need to reduce lateral strain and protect it from border edge damage.

Roller Fairlead
Source: suburban

Roller Fairlead, as its name, suggests uses four different rollers to slip steel wire cable.

It has two horizontal rollers and two vertical rollers to adjust the speed and flow of wire cable in and out while winching.

The rollers allow free regression free movement of wire in a specific roller which reduces lateral strains as well as protects wire cable from getting damaged by the edge of the drum.

Which One Should You Pick?

It all depends on the type of your winch and how you will use it.

Roller fairlead is best to use with steel cable wire, and if you have synthetic rope winch, then hawse fairlead is the best option.

In most cases, 90% there is Fairlead within the winch package, but if you are buying a used one or without Fairlead, you can differentiate A Fairlead on a winch utilizing the cable wire type they are using.

Moreover, you can use aluminum or hard steel fairlead according to the type of winch you use.


1. Can you use a roller fairlead with synthetic winch rope?

No! there are if and but, you cannot use a roller for synthetic winch rope.

Because rollers can damage with excessive running, it will cause more chafing and abrasion

It is better to use a hawse fairlead winch for synthetic rope winches.

2. Can I put a synthetic rope on any winch?

Yes, if you’re using a forward type of winching, synthetic rope is fine.

But if you are good with high-capacity winches, it’s better to use a steel wire cable.

3. Do you need a fair lead on a winch?

If you have a winch, you need to have a fairlead to support and protect your rope or wire cable, no matter what type. It can reduce lateral strain and damage from corners


Winches are a must-have when you are an off-road driver because it comes in handy when you need them the most.

But rough and continuous usage can damage any machinery, and it also applies to winches. I agree they are simple machines with very simple working phenomena, but in one phase.

On the other hand, there’s a lot of rubbing, regression, and pulling going on, which can affect performance in the long term. It can be stopped using Fairlead.

If you are curious to read more about winches and winches types, we have created a complete blog post on Types Of Winches that you should read.

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