The 10 Types of Fishing Weights: How and When to Use Them

For anglers of all experience levels, having a decent selection of fishing weights is important. However, with so many different sizes and shapes on the market, it may be difficult …

For anglers of all experience levels, having a decent selection of fishing weights is important. However, with so many different sizes and shapes on the market, it may be difficult to know which weight is needed for each fishing trip.

This article takes a closer look at the 10 different types of fishing weights and how you should use them. We’ll cover everything from the common split shot weights to the more unusual coin weights so you can determine which are the best fishing weights for your favorite types of fishing.

Bullet Weights
Fishing bullet weights are small cylindrical or tear-drop-shaped sinkers that are used to control the depth at which a fishing lure or bait is presented to fish. They come in various sizes and weights, ranging from 1/32 oz to as much as 4 oz.

1. Bullet Weights

As one of the more commonly used types of fishing weights with bass fishing, the bullet weight is shaped as you would imagine from its namesake. These elongated fishing weights are cone-shaped which is similar to a bullet in shape and size, and have a hole through the center for your fishing line to pass through.

Bullet weights are outstanding when fishing in heavy vegetation or around thick sunken weeds. They are commonly used with bass fishing, especially if you are using soft plastic lures and artificial baits, and can be a very useful bank sinker for shore anglers too.

These fishing weights are an excellent choice for children, as well as beginner anglers of any age, making them arguably the best fishing weight to start with. They are very user-friendly and won’t get snagged in vegetation as easily as some other weights can. You also don’t need to know any special knots to secure these fishing weights to your fishing line, and they can work with a wide variety of different rigs, lures, and baits.

You have a couple of options when attaching your bullet sinker to the line. You can leave it moving around, which can be useful in some situations, or you can secure the fishing weight to the line and prevent it from sliding. 

This is most easily done using a toothpick that you wedge into the hole of the weight after the fishing line has passed through and then break off the excess. The size is such that the toothpick acts like a cork in a bottle and holds the fishing weight on the fishing line in that fixed position.

Egg Weights
Egg weights are oval-shaped sinkers used to make soft plastic baits sink to a desired depth. They are incorporated into the bait for a natural presentation and the weight determines the rate of descent.

2. Egg Weights

Similar to bullet sinkers, egg sinkers are another very common fishing weight to use with bass and other species of fish. This type of fishing weight is perfect when you want your line to be able to move through the fishing weight freely, which allows floating lures and baits to be adjusted in their height from the bottom of the lake.

Using egg sinkers is suitable when you want to keep your lure down towards the bottom when you want to target deep water species, but you also want a good amount of movement in order to feel nibbles and bites. This may take some trial and error in finding the right size fishing weight since one that is too big will not allow you to feel bites, and one that is too small won’t keep your lure in the right spot.

A sliding egg sinker is your best fishing weight when fishing without a rig, or when using a simple Carolina rig that has some versatility to it. You can adjust the amount of slide egg sinkers have by using a plastic bead, which also acts as a way to protect the line from fraying and breaking due to friction.

Rubber Core Sinkers Weights
Rubber core sinkers are fishing weights with a rubber core encased in metal or lead. They are used for bottom fishing and are known for reducing line damage and noise, and come in various sizes and weights.

3. Rubber-Core Sinkers

Rubber core weights are somewhat less common, but are extremely versatile and can be very useful. They are heavy, dense, and very quick to attach to your line which helps get your lure back down into a hotspot without having to hassle with multiple split shot weights or other options to get onto the line.

Rubber core weights can be attached pretty much on the fly, and won’t require any re-rigging or re-tying of your line. In fact, these clasp-on weights can get any lure, bait, or rig down to the bottom in record time so you don’t miss out on some aggressive strikes from fish in that spot or passing through.

While these fishing weights can be great for getting your lure down to the bottom in record time, they also have a few drawbacks you need to keep in mind. Since they will be falling rapidly, they can get snagged in vegetation or weeds. They also have a habit of twisting since they are attached to the line in a clasp-on presentation instead of as an in-line weight. 

If you want to send your lure or bait deeper into the lower water column to take advantage of a group of suspended fish, rubber core sinkers are an outstanding option. They should always be in your tackle box for the just-in-case moments.

Pyramid Sinkers Weights
Pyramid weights are triangular fishing sinkers used in saltwater fishing. They bury in the sand, have a low profile, come in various sizes and weights, and are commonly used in surf fishing or from an anchored boat.

4. Pyramid Weights

As you may have guessed from the name, pyramid weights have a unique triangle shape to them with a pointed tip. This is your best fishing weight for getting your lure to the bottom of a deep lake quickly and keeping it there even in heavy currents.

Your line will be able to freely slide through the pyramid sinker, while the shape of the fishing weight will remain on the bottom even with some current. This makes a pyramid weight great for use at a tributary, dam, or other areas where some water current is present.

Pyramid weights are normally used by shore fishermen and not so much by boaters, however, their versatility can make them useful in a wide range of situations. It may take some trial and error on your part to get the hang of using one, but you may eventually find out that having pyramid sinkers on your rig is a better option than using split shots or other more commonly available sinkers.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that pyramid fishing weights can be on the pricey side, making them a bit less used than the more affordable options. It’s not uncommon for some larger pyramid sinkers to run $20 or higher, with the lower-end weights being around $10. 

Split Shot Weights Sinkers
Split-shot weights are small round sinkers used to control the depth of a bait or lure in fishing. They have a split in the middle for easy adjustment and can be used in freshwater or saltwater fishing for a delicate presentation.

5. Split-Shot

The split shot weights are probably the most common weight around today used in almost any fishing scenario, and it’s next to impossible to find an angler that doesn’t have a good amount of these weights in their tackle box at any given time. Not only are these lead weights highly affordable, but they are easy to add and remove as you want to adjust the weight on your line.

These weights, also sometimes called claw sinkers or worm weights, are very versatile and fully reusable, combined with the lower price and large amount you get in a packet and you have a weight that can be used for almost any situation imaginable. 

Split shot sinkers can be attached directly to the hook, placed on the line, added to a spinnerbait or blade, attached to swivels, and more. You can add them to one side or the other of a rig and add a bit of a spin to your presentation, or balance them out for a uniform presentation.

Attaching these extra-weight lead sinkers to your line is relatively simple and quick, though it will require the use of a small pair of pliers. Split shot sinkers are clamshell-type weights, which means they are slightly opened when you get them. Simply place the split shots on the fishing line and close it tightly with the pliers so it grabs on. 

If you’re looking for some of the best fishing weights around, consider reaching for a split shot when you want to target fish typically found in both freshwater and when deep sea fishing.

Coin Weights Sinkers
Flat or coin weights, also known as disk weights, are flat, circular-shaped fishing sinkers that are easy to manipulate and can be quickly added or removed from the line without the need for tying knots. They are used in freshwater and saltwater fishing for a subtle presentation.

6. Flat or Coin Weight

Coin weights are relatively uncommon, but can be highly useful for shore anglers or any fisherman that goes for the sit-and-wait method. These fishing weights are commonly used with bobber or float fishing, and can be a great way to keep your lure or bait in one spot while you wait for an indication of a bite with your float or bobber.

Due to their shape, coin weights won’t easily be moved around by the current, tide, or movement of any fish or other animals in the water making them great for surf fishing. They also allow your line to move freely giving you a choice of depth for your lure or weight as it floats up from the weight.

Coin weights can be used for both freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing, and are most useful in areas with a decent current or tide that would constantly roll or drag other fishing weights. Rivers are an excellent area to use a coin weight, as are tidal zones and active rock pools, or when doing some light-line surf fishing.

Pencil Weights Sinkers
Pencil sinkers are cylindrical weights that come in various sizes and weights and are commonly used for freshwater fishing for species like catfish, bass, and panfish.

7. Pencil Sinkers

Shaped similarly to a pencil or pen, these unique sinkers are a common choice when salmon or trout fishing. Depending on the material your pencil fishing sinker is made from, they can either be relatively affordable, or highly valuable with some pencil sinkers costing $30 or more.

For anglers that want to work with the current in rivers and other salmon or lake trout habitats, a pencil fishing sinker is the number one choice. Due to their shape, they can sink to the bottom quickly and are not prone to snagging on rocks, vegetation, or sunken logs

The metal loop your line runs through gives you a full range of freedom when it comes to the depth you want your fishing bait or lures to float up from the sinker. This gives you full control over working the lower or mid ranges of the water column for large salmon or steelhead.

There is no science involved in adding or removing a pencil sinker, which makes them a valuable addition to any tackle box. They include a small wire loop for you to run your line through, or can be attached to a swivel or clasp to keep them in a single spot on your line between your main and leader.

Walking Weights Sinkers
Walking sinkers are fishing weights used in saltwater fishing, particularly surf fishing, to move along the bottom and keep the bait in the strike zone. They come in various sizes and weights and are ideal for fishing in areas with strong currents or tidal movements.

8. Walking Sinkers

When asked, many anglers will say these fishing sinkers are shaped like a banana, though others say they look more like a tamale or chili pepper. Either way, you look at it, these oblong and slightly curved fishing weights are quite unique and can be extremely useful when using live bait.

If you love trolling your nightcrawlers, shad, or minnows, walking sinkers should be your number one choice in fishing weights. Their shape prevents getting snagged on rocks and vegetation and allows you to move them through the water without having to stop and remedy a hang-up.

A walking sinker will have the line run through a small hole toward the top. From here, you can add a swivel to make it easier to add them to your leader line with your favorite live bait or lure. While these fishing weights can be used with some lures, walking sinkers work best with, and were originally made for trolling extremely slowly with live baits.

Drop Shot Weights Sinkers
Drop shot sinkers are small weights used in the finesse fishing technique called “drop shot.” They are attached to the bottom of the line and used to fish effectively in deep water and around structure, and come in various sizes and weights for versatility.

9. Drop-Shot Sinkers

Shaped like a small ball with a wire loop for your line on top, these fishing sinkers are quick and easy to add and remove without having to deconstruct your entire rig. Due to their shape and higher density, a drop shot sinker will sink quickly and can be great for getting your rig down to the bottom in a short amount of time.

When using a drop shot sinker, you would normally set up your leader with your fishing hook and lure with the drop shot weight anywhere from 6 to 8 inches above. This helps get your presentation down toward the bottom of the water while allowing the bait or lure to float above where target fish can easily see and strike it. These fishing weights are perfectly fit for use when fishing from shore or when fishing off a boat, so don’t be afraid to give them a try on your next fishing trip.

Like some other fishing weights on this list, drop shots can be somewhat costly, but their versatility and usefulness help make up for it. It’s not uncommon to find single fishing weights around the $5 price tag, with higher quality sinker material fishing weights running around $25 or higher.

Nail Weights Sinkers
Nail weights, also known as nail sinkers, are small, bullet-shaped fishing weights used in freshwater fishing and often in finesse techniques. They come in various sizes and weights, are ideal for fishing in clear water or around structure, and are commonly used for species like bass, panfish, and crappie.

10. Nail Weights

Perfectly suited for use with soft plastics in a high vegetation area, nail weights can easily get your bait down to the bottom without getting hung up in weeds or grasses. Due to the shape of these weights, and how they sink to the bottom and work with the current, these fishing weights are great for use with minnows and other live-action lures or baits.

For any largemouth bass anglers looking to use these fishing weights on a rig setup, consider adding them to a wacky rig. This combination creates the Neko rig which has been proven to be a game changer when fishing toward the bottom for big bass fish. 

Nail weights are very versatile and are the number one answer when you want to get a lot of realistic movement from a plastic worm.

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Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.
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