Sea fishing weights (also known 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 listed 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 distances 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. 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 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 headwind.
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 a simple streamlined oval shape and have no additions or attachments added to them. They are generally the cheapest and most readily available type of sea fishing 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 and fish gather. They are also used to add weight to feathers, daylights and jelly lures. Overall, plain weights are the most commonly used type of weight in UK sea fishing. Plain weights are available to buy in 1oz to 6oz variations from Sea Angling Shop by clicking here.
Grip leads: Grip leads are weights that 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. Most 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 with foldable wires. 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 much heavier plain weight. Grip weights are available to buy from Sea Angling Shop by clicking here. Variations on grip weights include Gripper Bomb Weights which are a compact shape to maximise casting distance – click here to view.
Swivel weights: These are simply plain weights that have a swivel built into them. They are commonly used in freshwater fishing but in 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 lighter weights as 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 bays and coves. Swivel weights are available from Sea Angling Shop in 2oz, 3oz and 4oz weights by clicking here.
Watchgrip weights: This type of weight is ring-shaped with spiked points circling around each side. These weights are designed for fishing over sandy ground as they will grip the seabed. However, as they are reeled in they will kick up sand and sediment as they move across the seabed, attracting flatfish species such as plaice, brill, turbot and flounder. Watchgrip weights are used from the shore in the smaller sizes, but are available in much heavier weights for use when boat fishing. Watchgrip weights are available from Sea Angling Shop in 1oz – 4oz weights by clicking here.
Drilled Bullet Weights: 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. Smaller drilled bullets can be used to keep hooklengths on the seabed when fishing for species which feed 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.
Cylinder and Tube Weights: These type of weights are mostly used to add weight to light plastic lures such as jelly worms or soft plastic eel lures, although they can also be used to add weight to sea fishing float rigs. These weights are streamlined so that they do not spoil or interfere with the action of the lure as it is being pulled through the sea. Cylinder weights are sold at Sea Angling Shop in 1oz – 4oz weights (from 99p) and can be viewed by clicking here.
Additions to weights: There are a number of additions that can be 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 in their rigs. There are also now weights available 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 are one of the most popular additions and can be added to weights to allow them to rise up in the water as they are reeled in. This helps anglers get their rigs up and off the seabed and avoid snags – view Lead Lifts at Sea Angling Shop by clicking here.
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 sometimes use alternatives to purpose-made weights to save money. Nuts and bolts, links of chain, pieces of scrap metal and spark plugs can all be used instead of fishing weights. 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 this 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.