September 2, 2010

What's Your Opinion On Lead Fishing Tackle?

This issue never seems to really go away - to ban or not to ban lead in fishing tackle.
Image Courtesy

Seems there's some good arguments for:
An estimated 10 million to 20 million birds and other animals die each year from lead poisoning in the United States. This occurs when animals scavenge on carcasses shot and contaminated with lead bullet fragments, or pick up and eat spent lead-shot pellets or lost fishing weights, mistaking them for food or grit. Some animals die a painful death from lead poisoning while others suffer for years from its debilitating effects.
Full Article Here:

And some good arguments against:
The petition was presented with the aim of reducing bird deaths caused by the ingestion of lead sinkers and jigheads; however, a study conducted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service found that less than 1 percent of all waterfowl and other birds such as eagles are killed by lead sinker ingestion.
Full Article Here:

Me? I try not to use anything blatantly made from lead if I can help it. I stopped using lead split shot a few years ago, now opting for tin. I also don't use leadcore fly lines, so it's easy for me to make a decision like that.

On the flip side I also primarily fish for trout, not say...catfish, where giant lead weights are commonly used to get the bait down in the water column where it needs to be. If I did, I might have a much different point of view.  I also don't hunt, and lead in ammo is included in this debate.

I don't know...we took lead out of paint years ago, at least until the overseas factories tried to sneak it back into children's toys.  Other than the potential price ramifications, or maybe some sort of "Big Brother is controlling us" complex, why not remove it from fishing tackle too?

I'd love to hear what you think, your thoughts are welcomed in the comments section below.


  1. Show me something as effective as removable lead split shot, and I'll use it. I haven't found anything yet. Of course, I might be more concerned if the rivers I fish were pristine or if the area witnessed any decline in its avian population, but the truth is that the streams are already poisoned with enough PCBs and heavy metals to make the impact of lead sinkers of absolutely no consequence. Additionally, recent years seem to have seen an increase in the waterfowl population, which is dependent on these fisheries. I've also seen the first bald eagles nesting locally that I've seen in my lifetime. Of course, it could be I'm just an ignorant SOB that refuses to change.

  2. I'm not certain how theses estimates are done, either for or against lead. And like you mentioned I to only fish for trout, and almost never add weight.

    But if I were one the fishers who used weights, I would let them make the decision, based on some facts, to use or not.

    We have a lot of regs out there now.

  3. I use led! Just havent found anything that cheep or heavy, led has its places, if im fishing shallower water I dont need it I keep a yellow jar of Super doux handy, but when its time to go past 8 feet... to led nuggets

  4. I fish mainly for trout (with a little Shad thrown in for good measure) and use a BB sized splitshot once in a while, only because its the same container of shot I've had in my tackle box for the last 30 years or so. I think it's a debate that will go on for some time unless somebody makes a law that bans it.


  5. Here in Vermont, we can't use lead sinkers that are 1/2 ounce or less. I'm okay with that but...the majority of my summertime fishing is trolling the lake with down-riggers.
    Down-riggers require heavy lead weights, sometimes 12 pounds or more to get down as deep as 75+ feet while trolling. I also enjoy trolling with lead-core line and "lite-bite" slide divers which have a heave lead weight in them.
    The way I read the "Proposed Federal Ban..." I would no longer be able to use any of the products I've mentioned. I fully OPPOSE the "proposed" ban as it is currently written.
    For more information visit:

    Fish on, fish H8 me.

  6. I've been using nontoxic fishing weights for a few years - it has no effect on my catch rate.

    The same is not true for non-toxic shot - I use it only when required by law. It's 2-3x more expensive than lead, and significantly less effective, until you get into very high dollar tungsten-iron mixes.

  7. I have no problem but with a lead ban if it supported by pure, unbiased facts.

    Pure, unbiased facts have NEVER been offered in this discussion!

    10 -20 million birds dead? Come on.

    But, we all know it IS toxic and is bad for all living things.

    The cynical part of me (the BIG part) just doesn't believe any of the crap being spewed forth by either side.

    OK - off my soapbox .

  8. @BKill - Tough call. There probably are alternatives to lead split, just very cost prohibitive. Until that barrier goes down, there's a lot of folks in your boat.

    @Brk Trt - Your last sentence rings so true. It's actually the only reason why I have problems sorting this out myself. I don't like lead, but I also don't like being told what I can or can't do.

    @Big - Keep doing what you're doing man. I always figured you didn't use lead, but instead black magic or something - considering all those nice fish your bring in.

    @Shoreman - I wonder how many people are like you with the really old container of split shot in their tackle boxes. I still have one myself that is at least 15 years old.

    @RD - We're all entitled to our own opinions, glad you voiced your viewpoint here. I can definitely see how this would impeded trolling.

    @Swampthing - Just out of curiousity, what kind of non-toxic weights do you use - steel?

    @Wolfy - (Unfortunately) seems to be the way everything is these days - with a special interest slant. Interestingly, I got an email from Cabela's yesterday urging everyone to petition the EPA on this. Wonder what their stake in lead-based tackle amounts to (in $)...