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Milwaukee M18 Fuel Angler Battery-Powered Fish Tape Review

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Angler Reels In Wires With The Push Of A Button

Electricians depend on manual fish tapes to pull new wires through walls and electrical conduits. However, longer runs increase the chances of the tape binding up and require more strength to actually complete the pull successfully. The Milwaukee M18 Fuel Angler fish tape looks to shift this burden from your shoulders onto its strong brushless motor.


  • Reduces fatigue during longer pulls
  • Powered feed and retract that’s faster than manual operation
  • Steel or polyester tape drums available
  • Pulls up to 240 feet


  • Heavier than a manual fish tape
  • Not able to “feel” the run when you have two hands on the tool

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Angler Performance

We teamed up with our friends Richard Hoar and Mandi Kikta at OAR Electric to get their first-hand impressions of the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Angler. The team had to make a series of 100-plus foot wire pulls during a residential in-ground pool build. It was an excellent opportunity to put this powered fish tape to the test.

Push and Pull

As the team set in on the first 100-foot run, the weight of the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Angler was clearly more than Richard and Mandi were used to from a 120-foot tape. The route included three 90° bends, making the task a little tougher.

Using the variable speed trigger, Mandi carefully fed the 120-foot steel cable through the conduit with ease. Both Mandi and Richard noted that you lose some of the “touch” since you’re not actually feeling the fish tape travel through. It’s something to keep in mind especially when you’re making a run in PVC where gaps in the fittings are more likely to cause a snag.

You can use a combination of electric feeding with one hand and feeling the run with the other, but when you need to elevate the drum, you need two hands to support the weight.

When you can’t have your second hand on the tape, just keep a close eye on it as it feeds to make sure you can react if there’s a bind.

Once Mandi got the green light to start the pull, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Angler only needed about 45 seconds to finish the run.

The rotating drum retracted smoothly and let us avoid the fatiguing repetitive arm motions of a manual tape. Combined with the drastically shorter feed and pull times, it requires just a fraction of the physical exertion.

Pulling Power

The Milwaukee Angler’s brushless motor has a top-end speed of 37 RPM with 250 pounds of pulling force. With this level of power, Milwaukee tells us you’ll be able to pull wire through a 200 foot run with 360° of bends. We’re only using the 120-foot tape, but everything we experienced leads us to believe Milwaukee’s not pulling our leg with those claims.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Angler Design

Modular Design

One of the nicest things about Milwaukee’s design is the modular design. You can use one Angler powerhead and pair it with any of the drums you want. It’s a great way to outfit a service van with all the tapes the crew needs without spending the full kit price on each one.

Size and Weight

The Angler’s profile is pretty similar to that of traditional fish tapes with the obvious difference of the handle and trigger.

As we mentioned, there is a significant difference in weight on account of the motor and battery. Milwaukee’s 120-foot steel fish tape weighs about 5.7 pounds whereas the Milwaukee Angler version weighs 16.25 pounds with a 2.0Ah battery installed.

One addition we’d like to see is a shoulder strap or even a collapsable to help to manage the weight of the Angler when you can’t set it on the ground.

Warning Strip

In order to help prevent over-extending the fish tape, Milwaukee put a yellow-painted section about four feet from the end. Once you see this marking, you should immediately release the trigger to avoid over-rotating the drum.

Grip and Trigger

Milwaukee utilizes a two-handed rubber over-mold grip in order to help maintain control of the Angler. Both grips are larger diameters than you find on the Milwaukee 2853 Impact Driver and other pistol group tools.

The variable speed trigger offers excellent control while feeding and retracting the tape and a thumb switch makes it easy to switch directions.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Angler Pricing

Two kits are available. One comes with a 120-foot steel tape drum, two M18 2.0Ah batteries, and a charger, while the other comes with a 240-foot steel tape drum, batteries, and a charger. The Angler is also available as a bare tool without a tape.

You can purchase the drums separately with prices ranging from around $115 to $185. Here’s a list of the current lineup:

  • 2873A-22 (120′): $529.99
  • 2873B-22 (240′): $549.99
  • 2873-20 (bare tool): $369.99
  • 48-44-5176 Steel Pulling Fish Tape Drum 120′ x 1/8″: $85.97
  • 48-44-5178 Steel Pulling Fish Tape Drum  240′ x 1/8″: $115.99
  • 48-44-5195 Non-Conductive Polyester Pulling Fish Tape Drum 100′: $115.99
  • 48-44-5197 Non-Conductive Polyester Pulling Fish Tape Drum 200′: $185.99

The Bottom Line

As the job came to a close, our electrical crew agreed that the Angler can help drastically reduce the time you spend making pulls through any type of conduit, ultimately increasing productivity. The only hangup is how the weight of the tool makes you adjust to the way you’re used to working. Once you get used to it, the time and fatigue savings are well worth the price.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Angler Fish Tape Puller Specs

  • Model: Milwaukee 2873
  • Power Source: Milwaukee M18 battery
  • Variable Speed Trigger
  • Interchangeable Drums
  • Max Speed: 37 RPM
  • Pulling Power: 250 lbs.
  • Height: 17.7 in.
  • Length: 13.2 in.
  • Width: 6 in.
  • Weight: 15.31 lbs. (bare), 16.25 lbs. (with 2.0Ah battery
  • Warranty: 5-year (tool), 2-year (battery)
  • Price: $369.97 (bare tool); $529.99 (2873A-22); $549.97 (2873B-22)

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