Drift fishing is a very effective technique for steelhead and every salmon species – kings, pink salmon, coho, chum. One of the keys to drift fishing is getting your lure down to the bottom of the river where the majority of the biters are.
There are several types of weights to get your lure down to where you want it. The 2 most popular types for drift fishing are the slinky and the pencil lead weight.
You’ll often see either used when people side drift for salmon or steelhead, as well as the traditional drift fishing.
Today I’ll go over some of the reasons you might choose one over the other.
Slinkies are pieces of lead shot that have been put inside a bit of parachute tubing. You can buy them pre-made or make them yourself.
They can be long or short, thick or thin. Which one to use depends on how much weight you need.
The advantages of this type of weight are:
- Slides well over rocks
- Considered more stealthy when fishing (they are black and don’t make as much noise when bouncing against rocks)
- You don’t have to touch the lead (unless you make them yourself)
The disadvantages are:
- Limited to the sizes and amount you brought with you
- More expensive
- More time consuming to prep (if you make them)
Pencil lead weight is a continuous length of lead, often sold in a coil. It comes in a few different diameters and can be hollow or solid.
To fish with it you uncoil a length, and cut it from the coil. Then flatten one end, and punch a hole in it. While you can use different tools for these steps (and I do when preparing the weights at home), you can be by on the water with a single lead punch tool.
The advantages of this weight is:
- Easy to adjust weight on the water (i.e. can quickly clip off half an inch if you need to)
- Can make more of a specific size on the water (assuming you brought the coil and tool)
The disadvantages are:
- Handling the lead with your hands
- Hangs up between rocks easier
Even though I list off several pros/cons about the 2 different types of weight, in the end I believe it is mostly about personal preference. It is a rare fishing situation where you couldn’t make either work fine.
Personally I go for the pencil lead weight due to the cost and easy of adapting on the water.
Please try both and develop you own preference on what you want to make your standard weight.