Sea fishing weights (also know as leads, sinkers or plunders) have two main purposes: to provide weight to allow a cast to be performed and to anchor the rig and bait to the sea floor. Despite these two fairly simple jobs, choosing the correct weight that can both maximise casting distance and keep a bait on the seabed can require some thought.
Weights and Casting
Obviously a weight needs to be within the casting rating of a fishing rod, with the typical casting weights for the main types of rod shown in the panel to the right. Most weights are bomb or torpedo shaped as this provides the optimal aerodynamic shape to fly through the air and attain maximum casting distance. Choosing the correct weight to use depends to a certain extent on personal preference: one angler may cast at his or her maximum extent with a 4oz weight, whereas another angler may use an identical rod, reel and line and yet reach their maximum distances using a 6oz weight. However, an important fact to remember is that these rated casting weights for rods do not take into account the bait and other terminal tackle used in the rig, which can add considerable weight to the overall rig. Furthermore, weather conditions play a part with anglers often finding that increasing the weight of the lead being used makes it easier to cast into a head wind.
Making Weights Stay Put
When fishing on a clean beach in weak tidal conditions it can be advantageous to use a weight which will move around a little and hopefully roll into a gully or indentation where sources of food will gather and fish will feed. When fishing rockier ground the weight needs to stay put as allowing it to move will see it inevitably roll into a snag. The same is true when fishing in a strong tidal flow where a moving weight may end up washed back onto the beach! Choosing the right weight is key here: plain weights will move around and are perfect for the clean beach/weak tide situation, whereas grip weights are designed to remain anchored to the seabed and stay where the angler casts them.
Plain weights: As the name implies plain weights are completely bare and simply shaped like a bomb or torpedo. These are generally the cheapest and most readily available type of weight. Plain weights are used for general fishing on sandy and shingle seabeds where they will roll and move in the tide – hopefully finding the previously mentioned food and feeding fish holding gully or channel. Furthermore, a bait being dragged along the seabed is more tempting to inquisitive flatfish such as flounder and plaice. Overall, plain weights are regularly used by anglers fishing clean ground and are the most common type of sea fishing weight. Plain weights are available to buy from Sea Angling Shop by clicking here.
Grip leads: Grip leads are weights which have metal wires protruding from them which grip the seabed and anchor the weight in place. This is an advantage in rocky areas as it stops the weight from rolling around where it will inevitably get snagged. These weights are the only choice when casting onto a sandy area surrounded by rocks or rough ground, and even on sandy beaches grip leads need to be used when the tide is running hard and a plain lead will not hold onto the bottom. Grip leads are designed so that the wires which hold the seabed fold inwards when the weight is retrieved and therefore allow it to be reeled in easily. Fixed wire weights are a type of weight where the wires do not fold back in but are set in place and are used in the strongest tides where the strength of the tide is too strong for a standard grip lead. Grip leads are essential for holding the seabed in strong tides and it is the grip wires that do the work – a 4oz grip weight will hold the seabed better than a plain weight of double the weight. Grip weights are available to buy from Sea Angling Shop by clicking here.
Additions to weights: There are a number of additions which are added to weights for additional functionality Weights designed by tackle companies such as Gemini have bait clips integrated into them, saving an angler from having to use a separate bait clip. There are also flat leads on the market which allow the tide to flow over them and hold the seabed without the need for wires, although it must be noted that they are not as good a shape for casting. Gemini also manufacturer an entire system for anglers to make their own weights or create their own combinations of weights to suit the situations they fish in – view it on Amazon by clicking here. There are also weights with freshwater fishing style feeders built into them which are designed to be packed with bait and release extra scent in the area which is being fished.
Other types of weight: Drilled bullets are spherical weights which, as the name suggests, have a hole drilled all of the way through. They have a number of uses in sea fishing but are most commonly used by anglers to add weight when using a float fishing setup. However, smaller drilled bullets can be used to keep hooklengths nailed to the seabed when fishing for species which feed hard on the seabed such as Dover sole. Sea Angling Shop sells 1oz and 2oz drilled bullet weights which can be viewed by clicking here. Freshwater split shot should not be used in sea fishing as it is designed to be used with very light lines (1-6lb) and seriously damages heavier line. Tube weights are similar to drilled bullets but are cylindrical in shape and can be used to add weight to a lure, such as a jelly worm or soft plastic eel. These weights are streamlined so that they do not spoil or interfere with the action of the lure as it is being retrieved. Tube weights are sold at Sea Angling Shop in size 1oz, 1½oz and 2oz and can be viewed by clicking here.
Having the Right Weights for the Right Situation
Most anglers build up a selection of weights which they can use to suit the rod they are using and the situation they are fishing. A fishing session which starts off in calm weather may require the use of plain leads but a few hours later it may be necessary to switch to heavier grip leads when winds pick or the tide begins to grow in strength. Although weights are heavy and a pain to transport it is always a good idea to take plenty, as running out of weights will certainly bring a fishing session to an abrupt halt. Anglers fishing in rocky areas who are likely to lose a lot of gear to snags sometime use alternatives to purpose made weights to save money. Nuts and bolts, links of chain, pieces of scrap metal have all been used by sea anglers – but spark plugs are often the best alternative to weights made out of lead. It goes without saying that only the simplest of overhead casts should be used when using an unconventional weight like this – in fact it is probably only safe to use these kind of weights when no one else is fishing nearby.
Making and Buying Weights
Many anglers make their own weights when they can get hold of cheap scrap lead by using moulds that are widely available to buy online. This can be a good way of saving money and anglers can make enough weights in one session to see them through a whole season of fishing and avoid expensive trips to the tackle shop. Be aware that melting down lead is a potentially dangerous business and the correct safety gear and procedures should always be followed. See a range of fishing weight moulds and associated equipment on Amazon by clicking here.