Guide to Fishing Weights - Fishing Sinkers

fishing-sinker-mnon-lead-fishing-sinkerFishing sinkers are almost indispensable part of any fishing rig. They are used to increase rig's rate of sink, increase casting distance, improve anchoring ability etc.

Fishing sinkers vary in weight, material, size and shape, line position etc.

Fishing Weights - Weight

Fishing sinkers can be very small - as small as few grams or even less for thin lines in shallow waters, or as large as few pounds (or kilograms) for deep sea fishing or for longlines.

Casting distance depends on sinker's weight and somewhat shape. Sinking speed depends on weight, shape, but also on sinker's density (more on that later - Fishing Weights Material).

 Fishing Weights - Size and Shape

Fishing sinkers can be of various sizes and shapes - bank sinkers, dipsey sinkers, bullet sinkers, split-shot sinkers, pyramid sinkers, barrel or egg-shaped sinkers ...

Pyramid sinkers

pyramid-sinkerPyramid sinkers are shaped like a pyramid and are used when it is desirable to anchor line on the bottom of water bodies.

They are attached to the terminal end of fishing line by loops of brass.

When pyramid sinker hits the bottom, it will roll on the side and, when pulled gently, it will create a little material build-up in front of it with it's sharp edge. Such action is possible on soft bottoms like sand and similar. When fish grabs a bait and line is pulled sharply, pyramid sinker frees itself easily.

Pyramid sinkers are available as three or four sides pyramids.

Bulldozer sinkers

bulldozer-sinkerBulldozer sinkers act in similar way as pyramid sinkers, but due to their shape, they hold better for the same weight.

Because of that, they are used in waters with stronger currents.

Also, due to their shape, when line is drawn, bulldozer sinkers provide greater resistance - be careful about dimensioning of your terminal tackle.

Frog tongue sinkers

frog-tongue-fishing-sinkerFrog tongue sinkers behave very similar to pyramid and bulldozer sinkers. They have shape of opened frog mouth with brass loop in the place of frog tongue - hence the name.

They hold the line better than pyramid sinkers, but they are also usually more expensive, but not much.

So, if you are going for bottom fishing in strong current, frog tongue sinkers are one of the possible choices.

Barrel or egg sinkers

egg-shaped-fishing-weightBarrel or egg sinkers are rounded and often bead-like fishing weigths with a narrow hole in the middle through which fishing line is threaded.

These sinkers are desirable on rock or debris covered bottoms. In order to avoid line getting stuck on such bottoms, use several of these in one line, or even use soft plastic tube and insert fishing weights inside - in order to create home-made no-snagg sinkers.

Note: bullet shaped sinkers with hollow bottom are better for snagg free combinations.

Size depend on fishing positions and methods, but generally these fishing weights are available in most sizes at acceptable prices and can be found in any fishing gear/tackle store.

Barrel or elongated egg shaped fishing weights are often used for trolling rigs to sink lure or bait to the desired depth, although rubber core sinkers are more desirable for such use.

Claw or snag sinkers

claw-shaped-fishing-sinkerClaw or snag sinkers are usually used for fishing in really rough water conditions.

They offer great holding power on both sandy and gravel bottoms, depending on the size and weight - again, be warned (just like with bulldozer and/or frog tongue sinkers) to properly dimension line that holds this type of sinkers.

Split-shot sinkers

split-shot-sinkerSplit-shot sinkers are round and usually small fishing weigths with a split cutting halfway through the sinker. The fishing line can be placed into the split and then crimped closed.

This feature makes adding and removing fishing weights quick and relatively easy.

Note: adding and removing split-shot fishing sinkers can damage the fishing line - be very careful since such damage significantly decreases line's holding strength. In order to avoid such damage, use rubber core fishing sinkers - they are little bit more expensive, but better safe than sorry.

Rubber core sinkers

rubber-core-fishing-sinkerRubber core sinkers are used for attaching fishing weights to line through the slot in the sinker by twisting the rubber core that secures fishing line in place.

Unlike split-shot sinkers, rubber core sinkers are very gentle toward fishing lines and damaging lines is almost impossible, regardless if you are using (hard) mono-filament lines, braided lines etc.

Note: twisting the line in rubber core sinkers doesn't weaken it - imagine how lines are twisted in various knots, for example. Also, split-shot sinkers nick the line and that is much severe damage to the line than few twists in rubber core.

No roll sinkers

no-roll-fishing-weightsNo roll sinkers are any fishing weights that are flat and heavy enough in order to prevent strong current and waves in tumbling and rolling them on the bottom. This way, fishing lines are not twisted due to currents, waves and other similar conditions. However, if you do have problems with lines being twisted, use swivels AND no roll sinkers.

Lines can be threaded through the hole in the middle of the sinker, or there can be a brass loop.

Note: on rocky and similar bottoms, they get stuck more easily than other similar sinkers. Also, in strong currents, one needs to use heavier no roll sinkers to stay in one position.

Anyway, these are nice all-round sinkers.

Bullet sinkers

bullet-shaped-fishing-weightsBullet sinkers are bullet-shaped fishing weights, hence the name, of course.

This shape allows the fishing rig to glide through weeds and bounce off rocks and other obstacles. In order to improve 'bouncing' effect, some bullet fishing weights have hollow bottoms, that allows front end of one sinker to slide into the bottom end of another sinker, thus creating home-made no-snagg sinkers.

Coin sinkers

coin-fishing-weightCoin sinkers are general fishing sinkers in the form of coin. They have good no-roll properties and when retrieved they tend to glide, reducing the chance of snag.

On the other hand, just as ordinary no-roll sinkers, they are not so good on rocky and similar bottoms.

Dipsey sinkers

snap-lock-dipsey-sinkerDipsey sinkers (sometimes called dipsy sinkers) are ovate, bell or egg-shaped fishing weigths that are attached to the fishing line with a loop of brass wire - usually, they have swivel embedded into the body to decrease line twisting.

Some dipsey fishing weights have some form of 'snapping' mechanism - this simplifies adding or removing sinkers, which can be of great help when searching for game fish on different positions and depths.

Cushion sinkers

round-cushion-fishing-sinkerCushion sinkers are rounded flat sinkers that resemble cushions. They are very similar in appearance to coin sinkers and they share with them all good and bad characteristics:

- they have good no roll properties
- they glide when retrieved
- they get stuck easily on rocky and similar bottoms.

Bank sinkers

fishing-sinker-mBank sinkers are long and ovate and have a small hole at the top for the fishing line.

They are one of the most common fishing weights around - they hold bottom well, they don't snag very often on rocky bottom (depending on the size of sinker), they have good casting distance etc.

Flat bank sinkers

flat-bank-sinkerFlat bank sinkers are very similar to ordinary bank sinkers, except they are flat in appearance in order to improve no roll properties for fishing in strong currents and waves.

Torpedo sinkers or torpedo divers

torpedo-diver-sinkerTorpedo sinkers or torpedo divers are broad group of fishing weights used for positioning bait or lures during trolling.

Torpedo divers usually have a loop on the top side of the elongated body with the stabilizing fin on the end. This fin can be used to guide line to the left or to the right in order to cover more area since more trolling lines can be used without danger of lines getting entangled.

Some torpedo divers are colored and shaped like 'normal' fishing lures and equipped with strong hooks - such torpedo divers are used as both torpedo divers for line positioning and as lures. Downside of such combinations is that when boat slows down they can drop on the bottom and get stuck more easily than ordinary torpedo divers.

torpedo-sinkerTorpedo sinkers are elongated oval fishing weights with loop on one or both ends of the sinker. They are also used for positioning trolling line at desired depths, but can be used in more ways (on the end of the line, few sinkers directly on the line spaced at needed intervals etc). Also, some torpedo sinkers can have swivels embedded to decrease line twisting and for easier removing, if necessary (especially if swivels have some sort of snapping clip).

Breakaway sinkers

breakaway-fishing-weightBreakaway sinkers (also known as sputnik or spider sinkers) are mostly egg shaped fishing weights with addition of holding wires.

Wires increase holding force since they dig themselves into the bottom or get their grip among rocks or even sea weed. When pulled with sufficient force, wires snap backward releasing the sinker.

Some of the breakaway fishing weights have swivels embedded into the body to decrease twisting of the line.

Also, to improve holding strength without increasing the weight of such sinkers, central wire used for attaching the line can be made somewhat longer - hence the 'long tail' and 'short tail' versions of breakaway sinkers.

Tip: to increase force needed for holding wires to snap and release the sinker, wrap a rubber band around wires.


In many circumstances, shape choice depends on personal preferences of fisherman, although some sinkers are better on certain types of terrain - for example, barrel or egg sinkers perform relatively OK on rocky bottoms, while other sinkers can get stuck more easily when compared with barrel/egg sinkers.

Fishing Weights - Material

For a long time, lead was material of choice for fishing sinkers - it is very dense metal, corrosion resistant, it melts on low temperature and casts easily. Unfortunately, lead is also toxic metal, so it is more and more banned in many countries for fishing.

Many manufacturers now offer fishing sinkers (often also called 'lead') made from brass, steel, tungsten, bismuth, ceramics, various composites, sandsinkers etc.

One must note the density of these materials in order to understand sinking rate dependency of fishing weights on fishing weights materials: lead (Pb) 11.34 g/cm3, steel ~7.9 g/cm3, bismuth (Bi) 9.78 g/cm3, tungsten (W) 19.25 g/cm3, copper (Cu) 8.96 g/cm3, zinc (Zn) 7.14 g/cm3 etc. Obviously, when in water, objects have certain buoyancy depending on their volume and that is around 1 g/cm3 (approximately - density of water) - when in water, sinkers weight 'feels' like 1 g/cm3 less. That is why, sinkers made out of tungsten 'lose' least 'weight' due to high density of tungsten (also known as wolfram - W). Sinkers made out of cloth and sand - sandsinkers - have least density and although they can be great for casting, they are not appropriate when higher sinking rate is required due to large size required.

Fishing sinkers that are not made out of lead are less toxic to environment, but they are also generally several times costlier than lead sinkers.

Fishing Weights - Line Position

Position on the line depends on fishing technique and fishing rig, but generally can be under the hook, above the hook, or on the line, even far away from the hook(s) - especially on trolling rigs.


Here are some of the most popular fishing sinkers and our reviews and recommendations, sorted according to the article's added or modified date:

eagle-claw-split-shot-sinker-assortment-1mEagle Claw Split Shot Sinker Assortment is set of 78 or 124 split shot fishing sinkers. Sinkers come in plastic selector case and in different sizes.

bullet-weights-rubber-grip-sinker-kit-45-pieces-1mBullet Weights Rubber Grip Sinker Kit (45 Pieces) comes in convenient plastic box suitable for carrying around in backpack or tackle box. Rubber grip or rubber core sinkers are suitable for fast weight adjustment of fishing line, without damaging the line.

bullet-weights-ultra-steel-bullet-weights-sinker-kit-1mBullet Weights Ultra Steel Bullet Weights Sinker Kit (Natural, 60 Piece Kit) is non-lead fishing sinkers kit. It contains 60 well finished weights, weighing from 1/16 ounce (around 1.8g) to 1/2 ounce (around 14g). Great sinkers kit for areas that prohibit usage of lead sinkers at acceptable price.

south-bend-pyramid-sinker-1mSouth Bend Pyramid Sinker is package of 5 lead pyramid fishing weights weighing 3 ounces (85g) each.

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