When it comes to your fishing line setup, a sinker is imperative to get your bait or lure where it needs to go. If you're new to setting up your own rig, however, learning how to put a sinker on your fishing line can seem challenging.
In this guide, you'll learn the proper method of attaching a sinker to your line, and how to select the right sinker style and weight.
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What Is A Fishing Sinker? (Overview + Purpose)
Fishing sinkers are weights to help your line stay taut in the water, sink your bait or lure to the correct depths, and increase how far you're able to cast. They vary in weight and shape for different purposes, with lighter sinkers being ideal for shallow and still waters, and heavier weights being well-suited to fast currents and deep bodies of water.
Without a sinker, your line gets pulled by the current, making it harder to reach the right depths for certain fish to notice your bait or lure. Casts might land too close to your vessel or the shoreline, and a large amount of slack can enter the line—making it extremely difficult to reel in your catches.
How To Put Different Types Of Sinker Weights On Fishing Lines
Egg Shaped Fishing Sinkers
Mostly used for catfish, egg sinkers are ideal for casting and trolling waters with varied contours and vegetation. Due to their shape, snags are less likely. You can also use these sinkers for bass, trout, and other varieties along the bottom of a body of water.
To put an egg sinker on your fishing line, slip the line in through its center and secure with a swivel or split shot. Below that, you'll attach your leader, then your hook.
Split Shot Sinkers
This lightweight sinker is very versatile and a favorite among anglers due to its easy installation, removal, and relocation. They have a slit in the center that allows it to "grip" the line, which means threading isn't necessary. Rather, you use your fingers or pliers to fasten it to your line.
Split shot sinkers can add extra weight anywhere along your line, allowing for greater control of its placement in the water. Additionally, they can help hold larger weights at exactly the right spot on your fishing line.
Bell Fishing Sinkers
These fishing sinkers look like teardrops or bells, and are also known as bass casting sinker weights. Instead of feeding your line through the center, you'll thread it through a loop on top.
To attach a bell sinker to your fishing line, you can either secure it directly to the line and attach a leader with your hook below that, or attach the sinker to a leader off your line in a slip weight rig.
Both of these setups allow the sinker to pull the line deeply to the bottom while your bait or lure floats just off the floor.
Rubber Core Fishing Sinkers
These sinkers are similar to split-shots in how they look and attach to your line, but they're bigger and usually heavier. In the slot where the sinker clamps the line, you'll find a rubber coating that protects your fishing line from damage.
You can add rubber core fishing sinkers by first pressing your line into the rubber groove down the sinker's center. Next, twist the rubber tabs at either end in opposite directions. This will draw the fishing line down into the rubber core for a secure hold.
Like a teardrop or bell sinker, these have an eye where the line can be tied or threaded. As the name implies, they're shaped like pyramids, but the eye is at the base. This means the sinker will be upside-down once you cast.
Their shape allows for rapid sinking not just through water but into soft floors as well—which makes it an excellent choice for bottom fishing. Furthermore, the flat sides help prevent movement in fast waters.
One option is to attach your pyramid sinker to a swivel near the bottom of your fishing line, then attach your next swivel and leader line with a hook below. You can also use a three-way swivel so that the hook can float upwards off the bottom.
Bank Or Reef Sinkers
These sinkers are a bit of a crossover between egg and pyramid versions: they're teardrop-shaped but not rounded. Rather, they feature six flat sides that resist both currents and snags.
Setting up your line with a bank or reef sinker is very similar to other varieties: attach it to a swivel on your line (or tie it off), then attach your leader and hook below that. You can also thread your line through the eye and secure it with beads for an adjustable slip rig.
A favorite for anglers using live bait, walking sinkers look a bit like bent and flattened teardrops or a shape resembling shoehorns.
You can "walk it" over rocks and other normally challenging areas, dragging your live bait through the water to entice your next catch. For this reason, you might also hear them referred to as live bait rigs.
To add a walking sinker, simply pass your line through its eye. Secure with a swivel or split shot, then attach your hook or other desired elements of your rig.
Cone Sinkers And Bullet Shots
As the name would imply, bullet shots are extremely useful for gliding through water and vegetation, thanks to their narrow cone shape.
Because it is a sliding sinker, you thread your line through it and attach your lure and hook just below that.
A bullet shot is ideal when you'd like to use a walking sinker, but the underwater topography won't allow it (such as excessive weeds).
How To Choose The Right Fishing Sinker
People Also Ask (FAQs)
How heavy is a size 1 sinker?
A size 1 sinker will weigh 0.28 ounces, which is generally best for shallow waters where slow sinking is preferable.
When should I use weight on my fishing line?
You don't always need a sinker for fishing if the waters are shallow and calm—assuming your bait or lure is heavy enough to sink on its own, and the fish you're targeting are at that particular depth. Overall, it's better to use a sinker whenever possible.
How heavy should my sinker be?
Your sinker's weight depends on how deep your targeted fish swim and feed. If you're fishing in water with depths greater than 20 feet, consider using sinkers that weigh between 1/4 and 3/8 ounces. Fast-moving waters will also call for heavier sinkers.
How do I know what size sinker to use?
If you aren't sure how heavy your sinker should be, test with some split shots first. These are easy to remove and add, so you can adjust quickly between casts. Once you find the ideal number based on the current and depths, add up the split shots' weights and replace them (or some of them) with a more appropriate sinker, if desired.
The right sinker can increase the overall performance of your fishing rig by letting you cast farther, getting the bait or lure deep enough for fish to spot it, and minimizing snags or rolling along the bottom. Putting a sinker on your fishing line is relatively simple to do, and the proper setup can make all the difference in how many fish you catch on your next trip.