Fishing Weights: Which should I use?

Picking the right weight for the target species lets you reach the right place in the water column. Learn more...

There is a lot to learn about fishing. There are things to learn about how to catch fish, what fish you’re likely to catch, when you’re most likely to catch one, and who else is crazy enough to go out regardless of bad weather, no time to really do it, and an addiction to the sport and lifestyle. There is tackle, there are accessories, and there are sunglasses. Among the many accessories and tackle items, Fishing Weights are something we should all learn more about. Even in the sport of Fly Fishing – where anglers use feathers – weighted fly-line is utilized. In addition, many fly anglers use split-shots to add small amounts of weight to the line.


Types of Fishing Weights

There are many different fishing weights. So many, in fact, that to really understand them, it is better to split them into general major categories. There are only three things that a sinker (weight) can do. Let’s assume they all sink in one way or another. Fishing weights never float. They might not sink far, but they never float. Sinkers are designed to do one of three things:


They are literally tied onto your leader or are tied (or otherwise connected) in between your line and leader. You can drop them alongside the dock or pier you’re fishing from and they will sink as far as you let them, but they’re really designed to cast, to let flow with the tide almost invisibly, or to be cast with a lure or a bait hanging onto them on a leader.

  • Split Shot
  • Torpedo Leads of various designs

Bouncing, Hanging, and Rolling Fishing Weights

This category of fishing weights include things like Bell Weights, which we use for connecting to the bottom of Sabiki Rigs, which are small leaders with six or more tiny hooks attached and are used to catch baitfish for freshwater and saltwater fishing. These kinds of fishing weights come in other shapes such as round ones and flat round disks. They are very effective if you want a bait to stay on the bottom but also want it to move with the tide. Increasing or decreasing the weight lets you fine-tune the bounce-rate the sinker allows for the bait. It’s a real skill to use them right, but if you learn, you can catch fish such as Pompano that hang exactly near the bottom of pilings and must be presented baits at exactly the pace of the water current at that location.

Fishing Weights Bell WeightThis “bell weight” is inexpensive and effective. You can use them for fishing with sabikis and anytime you want bait to stay down in the water column but also keep it moving with the tide.

Fishing with Weights That Stick to the Bottom…

The third category of fishing weights lets you stick baits (live or dead) to the bottom. They are meant to sink the bait to the bottom underneath your boat and keep the bait there. They can be much heavier than they need to be to work, because they are not designed to cast. That is not to say you cannot cast them though. Surf fishing – a place many of us learned to fish from – are ideal places to cast a pyramid sinker like we show here and have it stay exactly where you meant to put it. They are ideal for situations like surf fishing, where wave action will move a bell lead inshore to your feet in 30 seconds when the wind’s blowing right. You must choose the proper weight for the intended purpose. Pyramids are the last weight you want on coral, where the sharp corners will get you stuck or rip the living coral off the reef. Ask for help on our forums and you will find advice you can trust.

Fishing Weights pyramid sin

If you are fishing in two feet of water with a strong tide or flow, or fishing in 12' of water trying to keep a bait midway in the water column, or fishing in 80' of water for grouper, having the right weight can make the difference between one lucky bite or a cooler full of fish or a dozen released gently back to their home.

Learn more about what weights work best for which conditions and you will be a better angler. Here are a few of the ones we keep around. We do not carry twelve pounds of sinkers whenever we go fishing, mind you. But we do carry what is right for the target species.


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