Picking the Right Fishing Sinker

How much weight do I really need, and what kind of sinker should I use?

Fishing Weights


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How big a fishing sinker do I need? How much fishing weight do I use? Which sinker do I use? The answer may surprise you!

Sinkers are the part of your terminal tackle that does just what the name implies – they sink! They are designed to take your bait down into the water. Lots of anglers don’t think much about their sinkers. They just put one on and hope for the best. But having the proper fishing sinker with the proper weight can mean the difference between catching fish and not catching fish.

Sinker Material

Most sinkers are made from lead. The lead is melted and poured into a sinker mold. In fact, all sinkers are made by pouring melted metal into a mold. Lead just happens to be the most prevalent metal in use.

However, some states have outlawed the use of lead in fishing tackle. In those locations, and for the anglers who may be concerned about using lead, we have seen sinkers in recent years poured from either bismuth or from tungsten. Both of these metals are heavy, but they are also quite expensive and the melting points are much higher than lead. For our purposes, we will deal with lead sinkers here.

Types of Sinkers

Sinkers come in multiple shapes and sizes. They can be as small as 1/32 of an ounce to as much as a pound or two. I’ve seen some people in a deep water situation using old-fashioned window sash weights to get a bait to the bottom! We want to talk to you about the sinkers that we use, and that’s a universe of three. Out of all the designs and shapes available, we can do what we want to do with one of three sinkers.

  • Egg Sinker
    These are the standard old every day sinkers used for most bottom fishing. They are round, oblong lead sinkers with a hole through the middle. Sometimes these are called slip sinkers because the design is for these sinkers to be placed above the swivel and on the actual fishing line. When a fish bites, it pulls the line through the sinker. The sinker stays on the bottom and the fish supposedly does not sense the weight.We use egg sinkers when we are offshore bottom fishing with live bait, as we do for grouper. We put one above the swivel, on the line, and then use a five-foot leader. The long leader allows our live bait to move about more naturally.
  • Bank Sinker
    This sinker, along with the pyramid sinker, is what we use bottom fishing offshore or in a current. The teardrop shape that allows you to attach your line at the top, means that the sinker will be on the bottom while your bait is above it. We tie a loop about two feet long at the end of my line. We leave the tag end of the line at about 12 to 14 inches long. It’s what we locally call a chicken rig, and we use it for red snapper, sea bass, and other bottom fish. We use the loop end through the eye of the bank or pyramid sinker. Then we tie the hook on the tag end. When the sinker is on the bottom, the hook is from the bottom. This is a great rig for any kind of bottom fishing, but it is particularly good in deep water or water with a lot of currents. Because we have the sinker looped on, we can easily change to a larger or smaller sinker without cutting the line. These sinkers come in weights up to 12 ounces.
  • Rubber Core
    Rubber core sinkers have been around for a long time. They are easy to use, easy to add to or remove from your line, and there is no need to cut and re-tie your line. We use these sinkers in shallow water applications, fishing for redfish, flounder, or even mangrove snapper. We like to be able to keep a bait on the bottom in a current, and sometimes we only need a half ounce or less. These sinkers go right on your line above the swivel. We can adjust the weight we need quickly, and if the sinker ever snags and hangs on a rock or oyster, the whole sinker will come off without breaking your line. Simply put another sinker on and keep fishing! These sinkers are for light tackle, inshore, shallow water fishing.

These three types of sinkers are the only ones we have in our tackle box. They fit every fishing situation we have been in and they do work.

Bottom Line

We need to provide you with one more piece of advice, and it applies to all three of these sinkers. Never use more weight than is absolutely necessary to get your bait to the bottom, or to the depth you want to fish. Any extra weight simply makes it harder to feel a fish bite, and much more difficult to cast. Cranking a 12-ounce weight up from 130 feet of water after you lose your bait gets real old, real quick. If 4 or 6 ounces will get your bait down, it means a lot less wear and tear on your arms and shoulders! In the case of sinkers, less is more!

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