Fishing weights are an important component in any angler's tackle box. Unlike sinkers that are mainly used for bait fishing, weights are primarily teamed with soft plastics and lures. Weights influence a bait's action and let you work them near bottom. This fishing weights guide is an overview of the standard weights used in freshwater fishing.
Tungsten Screw-in Worm Weights from Bullet Weights
Heavy Metal: Weight Materials
Before detailing the different styles of weights available, it's worth explaining the types of metals used. For the longest time lead was the main material. However, other metals are replacing lead as environmentally-friendly options and to follow fishing laws or lead bans. Here's a look at some other metals.
Tungsten has gained a lot of popularity recently for a few reasons. First, tungsten uses about 50% less material than lead for the same amount of weight. This means a 1-ounce tungsten sinker has a smaller profile, letting it penetrate weeds easier. Second, tungsten is more dense than lead. This trait equates to more sensitivity when fishing on bottom. It transmits vibrations differently depending on if you're fishing in mud, rock or wood.
Brass is another well-known weight material. Commonly used with Carolina rigs, this metal is quite dense. Polished brass is also shiny and can add flash as an attractant to your offerings. Tin, bismuth and steel are other common lead alternatives.
Types of Weights
Here's a listing of the common weights used in freshwater fishing.
Worm Weights -- Loved by bass anglers, worm weights are cone or bullet shaped and designed to easily slip through weeds. The weights feature a hole through their center to hold the fishing line. Rigged directly in front of soft-plastic baits such as a worms or craws, worm weights can be fixed in place ("pegged") or allowed to slide on the line.
A worm weight also features a concave bottom so that it hugs tight to the plastic when rigged. To peg basic worm weights use a toothpick or a specially designed peg, like Tru-Tungsten Smart Peg or Bullet Weight T-Stops. An alternative is buying weights with screws or hooks to fasten the weight to the plastic. Examples include Bullet Weights Screw-in Sinker Weights or their Tungsten Screw-in Worm Weights.
Tube Weight -- Tubes are one of the most popular soft-plastics today. Although often fished on a jig head, tubes can be rigged weedless and this is where a tube weight shines. Tube weights are designed to pass through and onto an off-set hook and rest inside the tube body. This rig is excellent for fishing tubes around wood and thin weeds, or for skipping baits. XPS has a variety of tube weights available in standard models, including one with rattles.
Drop Weights -- Drop-shot rigs are a great finesse and deep water presentation for bass and walleye. Drop weights come in a variety of sizes. Round shaped weights are the most common, while thin, cylindrical ones are more snag resistant.
Drop weights feature a tapered line-gripping eye. Pull the line upwards after passing it through the eye, and the pinch holds the line in place. Drop shotting requires a controlled and precise presentation; given this fact, consider purchasing a weight kit. This way you'll have a variety of options to customize your presentation in different fishing conditions.
Carolina Weight -- As already noted, Carolina rig weights have traditionally been made of brass. Carolina weights are often used to fish deeper water or on extremely long casts. The rig is tied with the brass weight in front of a glass bead and then a stopper, or ticker. You can purchase separate components or buy a pre-rigged set-up, like Bass Pro Shops Carolina Shortcut Rig or Kalin's Carolina Clacker Rig.
The rig emits a loud clicking sound underwater as the three components make contact when pulled along the bottom. Due to its dense nature, brass transmits vibrations, letting you "feel" the bottom. Over time you'll learn to distinguish between hard- or soft-bottom areas using this presentation.
Tungsten is an alternative to brass for a Carolina rig. Glass beads may break if teamed with tungsten. An alternative to glass are Tru-Tungsten's Force Beads that are specifically designed to be fished with tungsten weights and will emit a lot of noise underwater.
Flipping Weights -- Although many anglers use worm or bullet weights as a default option for flipping, there are alternatives. Tru-Tungsten Brauer's Flippin' Weights are one example. These models resemble a cross between a bullet and an egg shaped weight, resulting in a sleek profile that slips through weeds and easily punches mats. Additionally, the weights feature insert-free technology so you don't have to use toothpicks. Simply use a Tru-Tungsten Smart Peg to keep the weight in place. These pegs are made to recess into the weight for improved line protection and make it easy to adjust the location of the weight on the line.
Finesse Weights -- Finesse weights are cylindrical with a line guide through their center. Used as an alternative for Carolina and Texas rigging, the weight's profile lets them easily pass through heavy cover and over rocks. Weights are pegged at a fixed position on the line using specialty stops. Bass Pro Shops XPS Finesse Weight Kit offers a good assortment of weights and T-Stops.
Inline Fishing Weights -- Inline weights are for trolling. Common pieces of terminal tackle for walleye anglers, these weights help you troll a spinner rig or a crawler harness at a specific depth. The nose of the weight is tied to the line and the rig or harness is attached via a snap swivel. The weight's thin profile keep baits tracking straight. This reduces line twist and helps you control the trajectory of baits when trolling multiple lines. Bass Pro Shops' Fish Weight Inline Fishing Weights come in a variety of colors, letting you match the weight to your lure for added attraction.
Nail Weights -- These thin, nail-like weights insert into soft-plastic baits, like jerkbaits, sticks or finesse worms. The weights feature ridges to prevent them from slipping out of the plastic. Two examples are Bass Pro Shops Bait Weights and Lunker City Slug-Go Insert Weights. Given the limited space they take up in your tackle box, consider carrying a few of these weights on hand. They can be used to balance a rigged jerkbait for a natural-looking fall. Another option is tail-weighting finesse worms for a tail-first, fall that can trigger hits from shy, following fish.
Suspend Strips and Dot Weights -- Do you own a minnowbait or crankbait that you wish sunk or suspended when you stopped retrieving it? Well, the answer to your conundrum lies in Storm's Suspendot and SuspenStrips Weights. These sticky dots and strips let you modify your lures for a customized action. The weights have an adhesive that holds them to the bait, yet are easily removed to return the bait to its original form.
In addition to profile and mass, other features should be considered when buying weights. To start, some weights come painted. It's good practice to have at least a selection of black colored weights, but other hues are worth carrying. A mix of natural and hot colors will help create a consistent look to your presentations.
Consider investing in painted weights featuring a heavy duty coating. Quality weights will be more expensive, but the coating keeps weights looking new when fishing around rocks that cause cheap paint to quickly chip off.
Some weights also feature rattles for added attraction and are mainly found in tube and worm weights. If after bass, you should carry weights with and without rattles. In stained water rattles help fish hone in on your presentation, while if fishing a tough bite or when a subtle presentation is needed, weights without rattles are often a better option.
It's a fact that many sport fish relate to bottom. One of the best ways to get your artificial baits to them is using the appropriate weight. With such a variety of options to choose, there's no shortage of weights to use when trying to fool your finned quarry.