By Capt. Joe Kent
While writing the fishing report each day for the Galveston Daily News, there are many questions that readers ask about fishing and fishing equipment. One question that crops up fairly often has to do with fishing weights.
The inquiries are generated by anglers who shop at tackle stores or bait shops and see a wide variety of weights on the shelves and are curious as to how to distinguish between the choices. Another common question about weights has to do with a recommendation of what weight or weights should be used for a particular type of fishing.
Hopefully this article will shed some light on those questions and provide some useful information about how and when to use the various weights.
Browsing around the fishing weight displays in tackle shops can be a confusing adventure, as most of the larger operations have dozens of different types on display with only a few being popular with fishermen.
Determine Your Use
Before getting into the various weights available, let’s address a basic question. For what type of fishing is the weight designed? Casting for trout and reds involves different types of weights than say surf fishing or offshore fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Pier fishing also has its unique type of weights.
For most types of fishing, the objective is to get your bait down with the least amount of weight. Currents, wave action and wind all effect the choice of weights.
When viewing the choices of weights at most tackle stores there are several that stand out and for purposes of this article we will focus on the most popular along the upper Texas coast.
Pier and Bank Fishing
For bank and pier fishermen who cast baits with a double drop leader and weight at the bottom, the most popular are the bank sinker, pyramid and bell weights. All come in varied sizes and are designed to get the rig (leader, hooks and weight) to the bottom quickly before the “trash fish” attack on the way down is successful.
This type of fishing is great for pan fish and is the most convenient and popular style when fishing from piers, rock groins and jetties with dead bait.
When using live bait, other weights are the answer and again the objective is to get your bait out there and to a depth where the fish are feeding. This is much more challenging than just getting your baits to the bottom.
Current strength is the key to choosing the right weight and just as important, the type of weight. When fishing for most game fish, whether from a pier, wading or a boat, a slip weight is the best choice. Slip weights include egg weights and the easily changeable rubber grip weights and pinch weights. All are found in various sizes and again the choice is determined by where you want your bait in relation to the current flow.
Another of the detachable weights is the split shot which is easily attached and removed from fishing lines and is one of the smaller weights. This weight is popular with anglers free-lining bait with little resistance.
One weight that gets more attention or curiosity than most is the odd looking surf fishing bait called the Sputnik. The name comes from its resembling a satellite with antennas. This bait is popular with surf fishermen as it digs into the sand and is not nearly as affected by wave action and tidal flow as other weights. It also is popular with anglers fishing rocky or debris filled areas, as the wire protrusions we call antennas are much more easily removed from being stuck in the rocks or debris.
Finally, we deal with offshore weights. While heavy pyramid, bank and egg weights are popular for getting baits down to the reef fish, the trolling weights have been found to move the rigs faster to the bottom. The reason is their slim design that does not displace as much water as other bottom weights.
While there is a desirable and proper weight out there for whatever your choice of fishing, remember the key to all of this is to get your bait to its desired location with the least amount of resistance.