While not every fishing method requires a sinker, most do. The right sinker used in the right situation is a make-or-break decision.
The variety of weights is problematic for new anglers because fishing weights don’t come with a user manual and a list of fish to go after with each one. It’s a little confusing for some. There is no underestimating the value of the right weight and how integral it is to your entire setup.
For instance, surf fishing is popular with locals across the gulf coast. Even on a calm day, anglers deal with the rip current. With the wrong types of weights, it’s difficult to keep your bait in place. So what are the right sinker types, and what are their applications?
11 Fishing Sinker Types
Depending on who you’re talking to, there are more sinkers (weights) than 11. Eleven covers the basics and will leave you with a better understanding of what to look for and how it works, depending on the kind of fishing you want to do.
1. Split shot
These are your smallest weight, and all you need to set them on your line is a decent pair of needle nose pliers. Split shot is pretty versatile because you can quickly add or remove as many as you need.
They’re also pretty affordable and best for beginners learning how weight affects the bait. They’re best used in light currents in a small stream or river, especially when you need a little control.
2. Egg weight
The dependable old egg weight has been around forever. A small hole right through the center, lengthwise, allows your line to move freely back and forth. They’re good for pulling your bait down to the bottom. You can tie small knots in front and behind to limit the movement range as well.
3. Drop-shot sinker
The drop-shot sinker is designed to let your bait float up. These are best when used with a leader and attached below your bait. While they come in different shapes, rounded drop-shot sinkers are the most common.
A drop-shot sinker’s clip design allows you to make adjustments quickly.
4. Walking sinkers
These weird-looking sinkers are designed to avoid getting hung up in whatever underwater obstruction you are working your lure through. They’re light but heavy enough to keep your lure in the sweet spot underwater. You can also use them to troll with, as long as you keep it pretty slow.
5. Pyramid sinkers
A pyramid sinker is designed to keep your bait very still in the current. A pyramid sinker is good for surf fishing or in any strong current where you need your bait to stay in one place.
6. Coin sinker
Also known as coin weights or flat weights, these are designed to work like the pyramid weights do, but not in a strong current. The loop on top allows your line to move freely back and forth while the weight remains still on the bottom. Best for dock fishing with the bail open.
7. Rubber-core sinkers
These are like split-shot weights but much larger. They’re perfect for when you don’t have time to mess around—you need to get some weight on your line and get it down there in a hurry. If you’re fishing over an obstruction, they get hung up easily.
8. Trolling sinkers
These are long, cylindrical weights with a slightly fatter center. Since they are streamlined, they make good weights for trolling action, especially since the loop is on a swivel, which prevents the line from twisting with the weight.
9. Pencil sinker
They’re shaped like their name suggests, with a single loop on one side and a flat bottom. These are good for fishing in heavy vegetation, when you need to get your bait down to the bottom but don’t want to drag the surrounding plant ecosystem down with it.
10. No-snag flexi weight
These ½ oz to 2 oz weights have a unique shape and, as the name suggests, are designed to avoid snagging. That makes them great for trolling and drift fishing, especially if you’re after trout or stripers.
11. Hook weight
This unique little weight adds a twist to your lure action. These hooks are sold with the weight already installed on the hook. Best when set up on braided lines, these hooks are also great for fishing in heavy vegetation.
Where and How to Tie a Weight to a Fishing Line
Where and how you tie a sinker on depends on what you are fishing for and how you want your bait presented. Some weights aren’t tied at all, with the line simply running through the weight or a loop on the exterior.
For instance, where you place a sinker depends on how you want your bait presented.
- Split Shot—insert the line in the groove and clamp the split shot closed
- Ring Loops—usually rigged with a loop knot on the end of a leader
- Rubber Core—Place the line or hook shaft like you would with split shot and twist the opposing tabs to lock it in.
- Sliding Sinker—Simply slide it on the line and use a uni-knot to tie on a leader, with the attachment point too large for the sliding sinker to slide over
No matter what weight you use, one of the above four will be the attachment method. Where the weight ties on is entirely up to you and is determined by how you want the bait presented to the fish.
The above-listed weights will cover most of your needs as an angler. Of course, all kinds of unique weight styles, sizes, and shapes are out there. Many of them are nowhere near the common weights you find in a tackle box.
Sinkers, as they are today, are not set in stone either. Finding a new type of sinker coming out online is pretty common. Some of them become spectacularly popular and others quickly fade into obscurity.
It’s a good idea to keep up with the various sinkers out there and never neglect the tried and true sinkers that have been in the game for centuries. After all, there’s nothing quite as good as an egg sinker or an extra split-shot when you need it.
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