Sinkers come in a variety of weights, sizes and shapes, including balls, eggs, barrels and bullets. Each type and weight of sinker is designed for a specific type of fishing experience.
Many lead sinkers look like solid metal balls or eggs. A closer inspection reveals many are cut (so-called split shot) so the fisherman can pinch it around her line. Others include an eyelet to thread the line through.
Some are meant to sink like a rock in deep water, while others are designed for trolling (trailing your line and bait slowly through the water).
Lead in the environment is a potential threat to waterfowl as they have a habit of ingesting sinkers and lead shot, and some jurisdictions prohibit certain lead sinkers. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends against making lead sinkers at home because of the risk imposed by airborne particles.
Lead is only one of several materials used in making fishing sinkers. Steel and brass are also used for sinkers.
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