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10 Types Of Fishing Weights You Need To Know

Untangling the different shapes and styles of sinkers and how to use them

10 Types Of Fishing Weights You Need To Know

Sinkers come in all shapes and sizes. The best size for the day is fairly easy to determine, but the shape aspect can be a bit confusing.

We’ve talked often about the secret to becoming a better fisherman lying hidden in a thousand little differences in what the pros do. One of those little tricks is always having the right size, and shape sinker.

I once watched two commercial bait boats stringing up full double-length sabikis with sardines while I couldn’t get a bite. As it turned out I was using my standard 3-ounce “trout” or “trolling” sinker, while they were using 6-ounce flat “almond” weights. They could cast ahead of the boat, and drag their sabikis flat on the bottom which was the only place the sardines would bite. I was doing 90 percent of everything they were doing, but in this case 100 percent was required.

Let’s look at most of the sinkers Florida fishermen use, and when they should use them. Working from left to right:

fishing weights lined up according to size
These ten fishing weights are some of the most common options found in tackle shops, but which is the best for your intended catch?

1. The round clamp-on or split shot sinker is a dentist’s best friend. If you tell me you never closed one with your teeth, you were raised somewhere I’ve never even visited. This is usually used to carry a worm or cricket closer to a bream, but clamping one ten inches above a live shrimp has been the undoing of many a snook or tripletail.

2. Sinker #2 is the easiest and fastest fishing weight to deploy out there. Simply tie on a hook and place the line inside the slot in the sinker. Twist the rubber core, and you’re ready to drop. The cylindrical shape makes it easy to cast, but if you're bottom fishing, it’s going to roll with the tide.

3. The familiar bullet weight is commonly used to take a rubber worm or lizard to the bottom for a largemouth to suck up. I thought it was funny when my buddy, bass fanatic Kim Miller had every size from an 1/8-ounce to a 2-ounce in his tackle box. We pulled up to a grass bed one day, and hopped overboard to start wading a heavy bed of eel grass. Once I found myself a quarter mile from the boat, and a hundred yards from Kim and I finally figured out that my sinkers weren’t pulling my rubber worm down to the bottom, I knew I had to expand my inventory. I also really like a ¼-ounce bullet for under the chin of a ballyhoo to keep him swimming straight.

4. Egg sinkers are what make the famous “fishfinder rig” so effective. You can drag a mud minnow over the bottom eight inches behind a ½-ounce, or you can fish a live cigar minnow 20 feet behind a 16-ounce egg sinker for an eagle-eyed mutton. The famous “knocker rig” is nothing more than an egg sinker sliding all the way to a snelled hook. It works best with a bait lively enough to swim away from the sinker if you give him slack.

5. Trout sinkers are designed to have the least water resistance possible. That’s what makes them so good for fishing live shrimp under a cork, carrying a sabiki down to a school of bait, or ahead of a small spoon for a cooler full of Spanish mackerel. Build them as heavy as 6 pounds and you can get your wahoo lures moving up to 16 knots.

6. There may be no better sinker to hold your bait tight to the bottom than the flat almond or “no roll” sinker. It can be very effective at keeping a bait still, but if it comes off the bottom, its shape will cause it to rise higher in the water.




large fishing weights lined up on a cutting board
The last in our group (marked as +): Looking deeper and deeper for bottom fish or daytime swords? Get ready to spend on weights upwards of 5 pounds and $20 apiece.

7. The teardrop or bank sinker is the most popular sinker among offshore bottom fishermen. It has good current resistance, and rigged on a “chicken rig,” you can change sizes easily as current ebbs and flows.

8. The Dipsey is a good option with a live bait rigged on a dropper above it. The bait can swim circles all day, and the swivel will help cut down on the tangle.

9. The pyramid sinker does a great job in a current, and is the first choice of surf fishermen fishing a light to medium current. For bottom fishing inland, it’s hard to beat a pyramid if the bottom is relatively snag free. It rarely rolls, and usually holds in a running tide.

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10. The Sputnik has become more and more popular among surf fishermen, as it allows them to fish a much heavier surf or current. It also helps them fish multiple rods. Once a whiting or pompano grab a bait on a circle hook the unmoving “arm” sets the hook for you. The Sputnik must be fished on heavier tackle, as it can be difficult to “trip” the arms and retrieve your rig. FS

Published Florida Sportsman Magazine June 2022

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