Here are some of the many uses and purposes of the various fishing sinkers:
- To help us cast
- To help the bait and hook sink at the right speed
- To keep the bait stationary in current
- To help set the hook
- To hold bait (for method feeding)
- To feel and explore the contours of the bottom (Marker weights)
How much weight do I need?
How much weight you need depends on the purpose for using lead. For maximum casting performance, check the recommended weight for the rod you are using and make sure that the total weight of your lead, hook and bait fall close to the middle of that range. If you are using lead to help set the hook then use as much lead as you can get away with without hurting casting performance.
When using a method feeder, you must realize that method feeder will be casted loaded with bait, but will be setting the hook empty. Therefore the empty weight must be sufficient to set the hook well but not so much that it over powers the rod when loaded with bait.
Lead vs.Non Lead
Lead is cheap and dense but toxic. Coated leads are safer for fisherman because you get less lead on your hands and if they are lost in the water it will take a long time for the lead to leach into the water but it will happen eventually. Tungsten weights are non toxic and fairly close in density to lead but expensive. Steel is non toxic, considerably cheaper than tungsten but much lighter than lead.
I prefer steel inline leads over uncoated inline leads for two reasons: 1) the steel stored wet to get a nice coating a rust for camouflage and 2) steel inline cores are smooth and will not scratch or chafe your fishing line. Lead inline cores often have sharp edges and must be checked and removed or you will lose fish and gear.
Coatings and Camouflage
You lead can become a big red flag to a fish who has been exposed to fisherman before. A large shinny lead can tip off a fish that danger is around. Coating a lead in camouflage (textured or flat) can make a rig disappear. A coated lead can also prevent lead exposure while handling your gear.
Method Fishing Weights
“Method fishing” is a technique where the sinker is used to deliver chum to where ever you are fishing. You use sticky chum mixes and mold a ball of chum around the lead. This guarantees that a ball of chum lands inches away from your bait and hook, drawing the fish in close to your hook. Over time the chum dissolves or is nibbled away and each time you cast you mold a new ball of chum around the lead.
Method weights are designed to hold a ball chum intake around the lead so that it doesn’t come flying off when you cast. Some method weights are heavy others are very light. The advantage of a light method weight is that you can cast a bigger heavier ball of chum without over-stressing your rod. The advantage of a heavier method weight is that after the chum has fallen off, the weight still pins your hook to the bottom and can help set the hook.
Types of Leads, Weights and Sinkers: