How to Pick the Right Sinker Weight

Sinker weights are an essential tool for getting and keeping your bait in front of their fish you’re targeting, and choosing the right weight is critical.

There are many different types of sinker weights. In this article, we’ll break down how to pick the right sinker weight for different situations.

Factors for Choosing a Sinker Weight

Using the wrong sinker weight can foil what would be an otherwise excellent fishing trip. It is true that fish don’t usually care what kind of fishing weight you use. They really just care about the food or bait that you’re offering them.

But using the wrong fishing sinker weight can mean not getting to the bottom where your target fish are or your bait drifting too far away in a strong current.

Many anglers will overlook the importance of choosing the right sinker weight, but it’s as essential as selecting the right bait or lure. The most successful anglers understand when and how to take advantage of the correct fishing weights in all situations.

Types of Sinker Weights

There are several options for sinker weights, depending on your needs. Each one will provide unique benefits depending on the type of fishing you’re doing and what fish you’re targeting.

Here are the most common ones to be aware of:

  • Split-Shots – The most versatile sinker weight is the split shot. Split shot sinkers are designed with ears or wings so that you can crimp them onto any part of your line. They’re easily removed and reused with pliers.
  • Sliding Sinkers – Egg or barrel sinkers are the most common type of sliding sinker. Sliding sinkers are commonly threaded onto the line and followed by a barrel or barrel-snap swivel.
  • Rubber-Core Sinkers – When you need to add weight to your line quickly and need something more substantial than a split-shot, a rubber-core sinker works well.
  • Walking Sinkers – This type of sinker is best for “walking” along the bottom while trolling.
  • Worm Weights – This cone-shaped sinker is threaded onto your line and slides easily through weeds and other obstructions.
  • Dipsy and Bank Sinkers – You can also use these types of sinker weights for stationary fishing.
  • No-Roll Sinkers – No-roll sinkers are flat and shaped like a coin or disc. These sinker weights lay flat on the bottom and are best for stationary fishing.
  • Pencil Sinker – These pencil-shaped sinkers are best for use in rivers and streams, and their shape prevents snagging.
  • Trolling Sinkers – Trolling sinkers are streamlined weights with a loop on each end. They’re often used with a swivel to prevent twisting.
  • Insert Weights – These weights are nail-shaped, and you can insert them into soft lures or natural baits for more fish-appeal.
  • Drop Shot Sinker – Drop shots are ball-shaped sinkers that allow for quick adjustments in weight.
  • Hook Weights – Hook weights are slender pill-shaped weights that you can easily pinch into place on hooks.
  • Pyramid Sinker – These sinkers have a tip that points down and flat sides. The eye hole is on the what would normally be considered the “bottom” of the pyramid.
  • Casting Sinkers – This sinker is teardrop shaped. The eye swivels so your line doesn’t get twisted. These sinkers are normally used to “add some weight” to allow for longer casting when you have light weight lures and baits.

It’s a good idea to keep a variety of these sinker weights in your tackle box. Choosing the right sinker weight for different situations can have a strong positive effect on your success.

You may also need to change sinker weights while you fish if conditions change or you find the weight isn’t giving the results for which you hoped.

Water Depth

The depth of the water you’re fishing is a deciding factor on which fishing weight you should use. In general, you should use a lighter weight sinker in shallower water, and deeper water requires heavier weight.

For shallow water, a ⅛-ounce weight works well to create a slow-falling lure action. In deeper water that is up to 20 feet, it’s best to use between ¼ to ⅜-ounce fishing weights.

Keep in mind the exact depth you want to go to and where the fish hang out in the water column. In water that is 20 feet or deeper, you’ll want to up your weight to about ½ ounce if you’re going to reach fish that are sitting at the bottom.

It would be best if you also considered the vegetation of the area in which you are fishing. If you need to reach fish that are beneath a canopy of thick vegetation, you’ll want to use an even heavier weight. A one to two-ounce weight will work well here.

If the vegetation isn’t especially dense, a ½-ounce will likely work.

Keep in mind that the heavier the sinker weight you use, the harder it will be to detect bites. It’s a good idea to always go with the lightest fishing sinker weight you can that will still get you to the depth you want to reach..

Wind and Tidal Movement

Tidal movement and strong winds will play a role in the fishing sinkers you choose. Wind and tidal movement can change your cast, the fall of your bait, and can blow and bend your line.

A Choppy Lake on a Windy Day

In general, the stronger the current and wind, the heavier the weight you’ll want to use.

Line Diameter

In rougher conditions, heavier sinker weights can help give you more control. But sometimes the wind and current can affect your line and rod, which can affect how well your sinker keeps the bait in position.

In these cases, your sinker weight choice may not be enough to keep your bait in place. Reducing the diameter of your line can reduce the effects of the wind and current on your bait.

By reducing the diameter of your line and increasing the weight of your sinker, you can get better control in these conditions.

Examine the way your line and bait are reacting to your conditions and adjust accordingly. Don’t just pay attention to your fishing weight. Pay attention to how the sinker weight, the bait, and your line are working together.

Size of Bait/Lure

Consider the type of bait you’re using, the action you’d like it to perform, and the size of your bait when choosing your sinker weight.

When using a bait that you want to glide slowly to the bottom, heavier weight can make it fall too fast. It’s best to use a lighter weight with this sort of bait to preserve the action that attracts fish.

When you’re using a type of bait that you want to drag across the bottom, a heavier weight will help accomplish this. As always, though, don’t go too heavy that you can’t correctly feel bites.

Use your best judgment when deciding on which sinker weight to pair with your bait. Consider the action that attracts the fish you’re targeting and how fast your bait should fall. Don’t be afraid to also experiment.

Type of Fishing (Boat vs. Bank)

You’ll need different fishing weights depending on whether you’ll be doing some boat fishing or bank fishing.

When fishing from a boat in a strong current, the main goal of your sinker is to get the bait to the bottom and hold it in place.

For bank fishing, your sinker weight’s primary goal is to allow you to cast light bait at a great distance so that it reaches an area where the fish will be feeding.

The difference in these main goals means you’ll need different sinker weights to accomplish what you’re trying to do.

Tips for Selecting the Correct Sinker Weight

While fish don’t give much attention to the sinker weight you choose, the effect a sinker weight can have on your bait presentation can be the difference between success and failure.

The different types of sinkers and their weight options offer a variety of uses, and it’s critical to understand what you need your sinker to do before choosing one. Selecting the right sinker weight will produce the best results.

These are our top tips for how to pick the right sinker weight:

  • Consider the conditions you’re fishing in. Is it windy? Is there a strong current?
  • Think about the type of fishing you’ll be doing. Will you be fishing in a boat or bank fishing?
  • Decide what weight will put your bait in the right strike zone. How deep do you need it to go?
  • Select the lightest possible weight that will help you achieve your goal. A weight that is too light won’t reach the proper strike zone or distance. But a weight that is too heavy will make it difficult to feel when a fish is biting, and the fish may feel the weight before it’s properly hooked.
  • Be prepared with lots of options on hand to choose from, and be ready to change sinker weights as needed while fishing.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new combinations and tactics.

Keeping a wide selection of sinker weights on hand will be helpful as you get used to choosing the right sinker weight for different conditions and fish.

Changing weights often can be a pain, but there are several distinctive types that allow for simple changes by pinching them on and off with pliers.