HookedinFishing » Fishing Weights

Types of Fishing Weights

By Fishing with Nat | Published 12/28/2023

There are so many types of fishing sinkers out there. The type of sinker you choose can actually have a big effect on whether you have a successful day of fishing or not. Let’s figure out which ones are appropriate for your style of fishing.


Split-shot weights are the most common type of sinker. They are small round weights that come in many different sizes.

They can be made from lead, stainless steel, tin, tungsten, and more. Lead is the cheapest option, but is also the most harmful to waterbirds and other fish-eating animals.

Split shot sinkers can be opened and closed multiple times, so they can be attached to any point on your line and removed later if you want to switch to a lighter/heavier sinker. You can also use more than one if needed.

You attach split-shots by placing your line in the groove then pinching them shut. To remove, pinch the tail opposite of the groove which will open the groove and release your line.

These sinkers are commonly used under bobbers, under ice-fishing tip-ups, and for basic bottom fishing rigs in calm water.

Bullet Weights

Bullet weights are cone shaped weights with a hole through the middle. The cone shape helps the weight get through vegetation without getting hung up.

They are often used with bass fishing rigs like Texas-rigged worms and creature baits. To set it up you pass your line directly through the bullet weight, through a plastic or glass bead, and then tie on your hook (usually a worm hook or extra-wide-gap hook) with a soft plastic lure.

The bullet weight can travel freely up and down your line, or you can “peg” the weight with a rubber stopper in order to keep your rig sinking as one unit.

Pegged Texas-rigs are good for fishing in heavy vegetation where your hook could get stuck on a plant as it sinks. If your weight is unpegged, the hook will remain stuck and the weight will sink to the bottom by itself.

Dropshot Weights

Dropshot weights come in teardrop, cylindrical, or spherical shapes that generally have a clip on the top to easily attach to your line. They are most often used when fishing a drop shot rig to keep your bait at a desired depth off the bottom.

This technique is one of many “finesse” techniques, used at times when fish are likely to shy away from lures that are large, heavy, and/or fast-moving. This is especially common in cold water or after cold fronts pass through. When the fish are in a wary or slow-moving mood, they tend to be more interested in slow baits like a dropshot rig.

To set up a dropshot rig, you typically use a small hook size (#2 to 2/0) and a 2-5” plastic minnow, although baits as small as an inch are effective for panfish, and other baits resembling worms or insects are also good. When you tie on your hook using an appropriate knot like a Palomar knot, you keep a long tag end, run it down through the eye of the hook, and attach a dropshot weight near the end of the tag end.

By keeping your line tight once it hits bottom, this determines how far above the bottom of the lake your bait will sit, since the weight will be on the bottom and your bait will sit above it at the same distance as you put your sinker from your hook.

Nail Weights

Nail weights are long, thin weights that you insert into a soft plastic bait to make it heavier without adding any unnatural-looking hardware to the rig. They come in nail or screw in styles. You can also go the diy route by using short drywall screws and cutting the heads off.

When fishing a neko rig, the weight is inserted into one end of the bait so its unbalanced. This helps keep your bait standing up on bottom to mimic a distracted baitfish feeding on the bottom. A distracted baitfish is an easy meal for a predator, so this can be a very effective rig, especially for finicky fish.

Egg weights

As the name suggest, egg weights are shaped like an egg. This shape allows it to bounce around rocks without getting stuck. Its typically used when you want your sinker to move around or flow down stream.

They have a hole in the center that you feed your line through and are typically pegged a short distance up your line from you bait. This allows you to have the benefit of the weight while also leaving your bait weightless. This is especially common when fishing a carolina rig.

Flat or Coin Weights

one and two ounce flat coin weights being shown on white background

Coin weights are disc shaped with a metal eye coming out the top. These are used when fishing in current and you want your bait to stay in place. The flat design allows the current to easily flow over without pulling it.

These are commonly used with sinker slides – a special piece of hardware that allows for quick changes of heavy weights, and also allows your line to pass freely through it when a fish picks up your bait. This means that the fish can travel freely with the bait without feeling the weight of your sinker.

Bank Sinkers

As the name suggests, bank sinkers are very commonly used when fishing from the bank of a lake or river. They are heavy and aerodynamic, so they can be launched a very long way from the shore to reach deep water or current breaks where fish may be holding.

Like coin sinkers, these can be clipped to a sinker slide for quick changes. They can also be tied on as part of a slip-sinker rig.

How Much Weight to Use

In most cases, it’s best to use as little weight as possible to get your bait where you want it. More weight is more likely to spook a fish during a cast or when it picks up your bait and feels the unnatural weight. It’s also more hardware to lose if you happen to break off on a fish or a snag.

In some situations, you will want to your bait to hold in place so you may need more weight. Other times you may want it to slowly drift down stream. By picking the smallest sinker that accomplishes your desired outcome, you will set yourself up for a more successful trip. Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use lead weights for fishing?

Lead weights are legal to use in 42 states. Lead weights are illegal in New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Vermont, and Washington.

What are fishing weights used for?

Weights are used to get your bait to certain depths and stay there.

What are fishing weights made of?

Fishing weights are made of lead, tungsten, or sand. Tungsten pack the most weight by size and are the most expensive weight material. We have an in-depth guide on lead vs tungsten weights where we cover the all the benefits and whether tungsten is worth the extra cost.

Do fishing weights rust?

Lead and tungsten weights are rust resistant. If stored dry, rust shouldn’t be a problem. Fishing weights can rust if left in water for a long duration though.

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