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 in place under the water. 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.
Fishing Rods and Casting Weight
All fishing rods have a casting weight – the minimum and maximum weights which the rod is capable of casting. The typical casting weights for the main type of fishing rods used by UK anglers are listen below.
It is very important that weights used fall between these figures. Using a weight that is too light will mean that casting distance is reduced, while using a weight which is too heavy can be dangerous and can seriously damage (and even snap) a fishing rod.
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.
Types of Fishing Weight
Most weights are bomb or torpedo shaped as this provides the optimal aerodynamic shape to fly through the air and attain maximum casting distance, although other shapes of weight are used in sea fishing.
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 by anglers where there is little tide and the weight will stay in place. Alternatively anglers fishing on sandy seabeds may want the weight to roll and move around – hopefully finding a fish holding gully or channel where food accumulates. Overall, plain weights are regularly used by anglers fishing clean ground and are overall the most common type of sea fishing weight, especially in 4oz, 5oz and 6oz weights. 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.
Swivel weights: These are simply plain weights which have a swivel built into them. They are commonly used in freshwater fishing but in their larger sizes they can also be used in sea fishing. As stated above plain weights can be allowed to roll around on the seabed to find gullies and other fish holding features. Swivel weights are specifically designed for this type of fishing as the swivel which is built into the design eliminates line twist being transferred upwards into the main line as the weight rolls around. Swivel weights are most common in sizes 1oz – 3oz meaning they are mostly used by anglers using bass rods to fish in places where there is a low level of tidal flow, such as estuaries, harbours and sheltered coves.
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. 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. Breakaway’s lead lifts can be added to weights to allow them to rise up in the water as they are reeled in and avoid snags – view at Sea Angling Shop by clicking here.
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 drilled bullet weights in a range of sizes which can be viewed by clicking here. Tube and barrel 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. Barrel leads are sold at Sea Angling Shop in size 1oz and 2oz and can be viewed by clicking here. Watchgrip weights are a ring shaped weight with spiked points circling around each side. These weights grip the seabed well but also kick up sand and sediment as they move across the seabed, attracting flatfish species such as plaice, brill, turbot and flounder. Watchgrip weights are mostly used by anglers fishing from a boat on the drift, although shore anglers can also use this type of weight successfully from the shore.
Having the Right Weights for the Right Situation
Most anglers have 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 end. 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.