Fishing Weights, Bobbers and Sinkers

Learn about the different types of fishing weights, bobbers, sinkers and swivels, and how to use them properly for a successful catch.


Weights and sinkers are usually made of lead, and can be as small as a BB size or as heavy as a few ounces. The tiny BB shaped ones are called split-shot. They have a groove in the middle that you can slide your line into and then you pinch the weight shut. The soft lead will deform in your fingers or you can use your fishing pliers to really crimp it down. Oftentimes just a single split shot will provide all the weight you need to get a bait to the bottom.

Other types of sinkers include cones for rigging with a worm hook carolina style, inline or egg sinkers, which you can thread your line though to make bottom rigs, or pyramid sinkers, which are heavier and used in surf fishing.

Some anglers now use tungsten fishing weights instead of lead. It’s nice and dense like lead and virtually indestructible, but more expensive.


Fishing bobbers attach to your line and keep it on the surface until a fish strikes. You can set the depth of your baited hook by attaching the bobber that much higher up the line. The bait will be suspended at that depth. When a fish strikes, the bobber goes under, giving you a visual clue that it’s time to set the hook.

Floats are more streamlined fishing bobbers and tend to be more sensitive. A specialized bobber called a popping cork is used when fishing for redfish and speckled trout. It’s a bobber on a short piece of wire between two beads. When the angler pulls back sharply, the cork pops on the surface, making a sound similar to baitfish feeding, which attracts the redfish and trout.


Swivels are used to join two parts of your line so that the far end can spin freely. This keeps it from twisting and causing problems on the spool. Snaps are swivels with a closure on one end that locks securely. If you tie a snap to the end of your main line, you can quickly attach hooks that have been snelled to a leader with a loop at the end. Or if you tie a swivel, or three-way swivel to the end of your line, you can quickly attach leaders with a snap at the end for trolling lures or baits. Some lures dance and spin so much that they call for swivels in order to move freely.


Terminal tackle is a catch-all term for fishing weights and swivels and everything else you might tie to your fishing line that isn’t a hook or lure. This includes weights to help sink your fishing line, bobbers, and floats that make it float, and snaps and swivels, which make connections easier and keep your line from twisting into a snarled mess. We’ll deal with weights first.

Now that you’ve got all this tackle, it’s time for a tackle box. Go to the Tackle Box Section for more information.