Anglers Guide to Fishing Sinkers [Weight Chart]

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Written By Russ Egan

Russ is a professional fisherman with over 20 years of experience. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ comprehensively tests and reviews all his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. There is nothing he prefers than heading down to his local tackle store, buying the latest fishing reel, and taking it to the water to test.


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A fishing sinker weight chart provides guidelines for selecting the appropriate sinker weight based on factors like target species, fishing technique, water depth, and current. It helps anglers choose the right weight for optimal bait presentation and casting distance while minimizing line drag.

Fishing Sinker Weight Chart

Sinker SizeWeight (oz)Diameter (in)
1 1/41.251.25
1 1/21.51.37
1 3/41.751.50

Sinker Size Selection Chart

Sinker SizeTypical Usage
1/64Ultralight fishing, small lures, and small live baits
1/32Light fishing, small lures, and small live baits
1/16Light fishing, small to medium lures, and live baits
1/8General fishing, medium lures, and live baits
1/4General fishing, medium to large lures, and live baits
3/8Casting and bottom fishing, larger lures, and live baits
1/2Surf fishing, trolling, and large live baits
3/4Surf fishing, trolling, and heavy currents
1Deep-sea fishing, heavy currents, and large live baits
1.5Deep-sea fishing, strong currents, and large live baits
2Deep-sea fishing, extreme currents, and large live baits

Types of Fishing Sinkers

When to Use Each Sinker

Sinker TypeWhen to Use
Egg SinkerWhen fishing in moderate currents, wanting to maintain contact with the bottom, and keeping a more natural presentation. Ideal for catfish and other bottom-dwelling species.
Split Shot SinkerWhen adding small amounts of weight for finesse presentations, usually for live bait or smaller lures. Best for panfish, trout, and crappie in calm waters with little or no current.
Bullet Weight SinkerPrimarily used for Texas and Carolina rigging soft plastics for bass fishing. Provides a weedless presentation and can be used to cast long distances.
Bank SinkerWhen fishing in heavy currents, rocky or snag-prone areas. The tapered shape helps reduce the chances of getting snagged. Best for targeting bottom-dwelling fish in rivers and strong currents.
Pyramid SinkerWhen surf fishing or fishing in sandy, muddy, or soft bottoms. The shape helps the sinker dig into the bottom and hold its position in strong currents. Ideal for saltwater species like striped bass, redfish, and pompano.
No-roll SinkerWhen fishing in current and needing a sinker that stays in place on the bottom. Best for catfish, carp, and other bottom-feeding fish in rivers.
Drop Shot SinkerWhen using a drop shot rig for vertical presentations. This sinker is designed to be easily adjustable and provides a finesse approach to targeting suspended fish like bass, perch, and walleye.
Trolling SinkerWhen trolling with live bait or lures to achieve specific depths or to keep the bait near the bottom. Ideal for targeting salmon, trout, and other deep-water species.
Bell/Claw SinkerWhen ice fishing or fishing in areas with thick vegetation. The unique shape helps prevent the sinker from getting caught in the weeds or ice.

Split shot sinkers

A split shot sinker is a small and versatile piece of fishing equipment that I often use to help me catch a variety of fish. It’s a small, round lead or tungsten weight with a split down the middle, which allows me to attach it to my fishing line easily. With a pair of pliers, I can open up the split, place the line inside, and clamp it closed again, securing the sinker in place.

I find split shot sinkers particularly useful when I need to add weight to my line without tying additional knots.

Another great thing about split shot sinkers is that they’re easy to adjust. If I need to change the depth at which my bait or lure is presented, I can slide the sinker up or down my line. I can also add multiple split shot sinkers to my line to increase the weight or create a specific presentation for targeting certain species.

split shot sinker

Egg sinkers

An egg sinker is a small, egg-shaped weight made of lead, brass, or tungsten. It’s designed to slide freely on the fishing line, which helps me maintain a natural bait presentation to the fish.

I highly recommend using an egg sinker when I want to fish on or near the bottom, such as when targeting species like catfish, bass, or walleye. The egg sinker’s shape allows it to glide through weeds and rocks with minimal snagging, making it perfect for fishing in areas with heavy cover or structure.

Another situation where an egg sinker is advantageous is when fishing in currents. The streamlined design of the egg sinker helps reduce the drag on my line, allowing my bait to drift more naturally in the current, ultimately increasing my chances of enticing a bite.

I also like to use egg sinkers to detect subtle bites from finicky fish. Since the egg sinker can slide freely on the line, I can feel even the slightest nibbles, as there is less resistance between the fish and my rod tip.

egg sinker

Bank sinkers

A bank sinker gets its name from its most common use – fishing in rivers and banks.

The bank sinker has a streamlined, almost oval shape, allowing it to glide through water and weeds with minimal resistance. The design also helps me avoid snagging my line on rocks, debris, or aquatic plants.

I find that the bank sinker is an excellent choice for bottom fishing in rivers, streams, and lakes. Its ability to slide effortlessly through underwater obstacles makes it ideal for targeting bottom-dwelling species like catfish, carp, and walleye. The bank sinker is also great for drift fishing, which involves letting the current carry my bait naturally downstream. This technique is particularly effective when targeting salmon or steelhead.

bank sinker

Pyramid sinkers

A pyramid sinker is a type of fishing weight that gets its name from its shape, which resembles a pyramid. It has a wide, flat base with tapered sides that meet at a point. At the top is an eyelet where I can easily attach my fishing line.

I love using pyramid sinkers when I’m surf fishing, as they’re perfect for this type of environment. The flat base and pyramid shape help the sinker dig into the sandy bottom, providing excellent holding power in strong currents and waves. This prevents my bait from being washed away or dragged around, allowing it to remain in the strike zone longer.

Pyramid sinkers are great for fishing in areas with a lot of underwater vegetation, as the shape helps to prevent snagging on plants and debris. When fishing from a boat or pier, I find them useful for casting long distances due to their aerodynamic design.

I highly recommend using pyramid sinkers for surf fishing, casting long distances, and fishing in areas with strong currents or underwater vegetation.

pyramid sinker

Bullet weights

A bullet sinker is a type of fishing weight with a sleek, streamlined shape resembling a bullet. This design allows the sinker to slide through the water with minimal resistance, and it usually has a hole running through the center for threading the fishing line.

I find bullet sinkers particularly useful when fishing in areas with a lot of cover, such as submerged logs, rocks, or dense vegetation. Their smooth, tapered design helps to reduce the chances of getting snagged or tangled in underwater obstacles, allowing me to present my bait more effectively and reduce the risk of losing my gear.

Bullet sinkers are also great for use with Texas or Carolina rigs when targeting bass or other bottom-dwelling species. The streamlined shape of the bullet sinker allows it to glide through the water, making it easier to feel subtle bites and detect when my bait has reached the bottom. This increased sensitivity helps me accurately set the hook and land more fish.

bullet sinkers

Bell sinkers

A bell sinker, also known as a dipsey sinker, is a type of fishing weight shaped like a bell, featuring a rounded bottom and a tapered top. It typically has a small loop or eye at the top where I can tie my fishing line or attach a snap swivel.

I’ve found that bell sinkers work well in various fishing situations, making them a valuable addition to my tackle box. Their rounded design allows them to glide smoothly over the bottom when I’m fishing in areas with rocks, gravel, or other hard surfaces. This helps to minimize the risk of snagging and losing my gear, while still keeping my bait close to the bottom where many fish species like to feed.

Bell sinkers also work well when I’m drift fishing or trolling. Their rounded shape helps maintain consistent contact with the bottom, providing better bait presentation and reducing the chance of my line getting tangled in underwater structures.

I recommend using bell sinkers for fishing in rocky or hard-bottom areas, drift fishing, and trolling.

bell sinker

No-roll sinkers

A no-roll sinker has a flat, elongated shape and a hole through the center for threading the fishing line. Its unique design ensures it lies flat on the bottom and resists rolling, which can be especially useful in certain situations.

I’ve discovered that no-roll sinkers are particularly effective when fishing in areas with strong currents or on slopes, where other sinkers might be prone to rolling or being dragged along the bottom. By staying in place, the no-roll sinker allows my bait to remain stationary in the strike zone, increasing my chances of attracting and hooking fish.

Another scenario in which I find no-roll sinkers advantageous is using live bait, as the sinker’s stationary nature allows the bait to move more naturally in the current, making it more appealing to predatory fish. Additionally, because no-roll sinkers lie flat on the bottom, they are less likely to get snagged on rocks, vegetation, or other underwater structures.

I use no-roll sinkers when fishing in areas with strong currents, on slopes, or using live bait.

no-roll sinker

Trolling sinkers

A trolling sinker is specifically designed for trolling, a technique where a baited line is slowly pulled behind a moving boat.

Trolling sinkers are typically cylindrical or torpedo-shaped, with a hole through the center to thread the fishing line. Some trolling sinkers also have a built-in swivel to help prevent line twists. The streamlined design allows the sinker to cut through the water with minimal resistance, ensuring my bait’s smooth and consistent presentation.

I find trolling sinkers particularly useful when I’m targeting fish species known to be more active at specific depths or when suspended in the water column. By adjusting the amount of line I let out and the speed of the boat, I can fine-tune the depth at which my bait is presented, increasing my chances of success.

Trolling sinkers also provide stability to my bait presentation in rougher waters or when dealing with strong currents.

trolling sinker

Fish Species Sinker Recommendations

Not every sinker suits every rig setup and the fish species you are targeting. Here is my guide to sinkers based on the fish.

Fish SpeciesRecommended Sinker TypeRecommended Sinker Size
Largemouth BassBullet Weight Sinker1/16 – 1/2 oz
Smallmouth BassDrop Shot Sinker1/8 – 3/8 oz
CatfishNo-roll Sinker1/2 – 4 oz depending on current
TroutSplit Shot Sinker1/64 – 1/8 oz
CrappieSplit Shot Sinker1/64 – 1/8 oz
WalleyeDrop Shot Sinker1/4 – 1/2 oz
Northern PikeEgg Sinker1/4 – 3/4 oz
SalmonTrolling Sinker1 – 6 oz depending on depth
RedfishPyramid Sinker1 – 4 oz depending on current
Striped BassPyramid Sinker1 – 6 oz depending on current

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