Lead barrel weights are easy to use and inexpensive but deadly to wildlife. Wild birds can swallow lead barrel weights along with gravel and suffer lead poisoning. The lead also poses a threat to humans. Because of the danger to wild birds and animals, fishing tackle makers now use an assortment of materials in place of lead.
Ceramic barrel weights are good replacement for lead shot sinkers. Ceramic barrel weights are easy to cast and don't snag on the bottom when reeling in your line. Another advantage of ceramic barrel weights is that they weigh one-third less under water than in the air so that you can use a larger weight without sinking your float. Ceramic barrel weights are usually pyramidal in shape and are molded using a pure earth material that won't pollute the water.
Bismuth is a brittle metal and fairly rare. Bismuth barrel weights made from bismuth usually is a bismuth tin alloy. Bismuth is twenty-five percent lighter than lead, bismuth weights will sink more slowly than a lead weight. This allows the fish more time to detect your lure and improves the chance of getting a strike. Bismuth barrel weights are safe for the environment and wildlife but cost more than lead barrel weights.
Natural granite barrel weights are a good choice because they look like a natural part of the environment. Shaped and polished into split shot, these barrel weights work well when placed next to glass beads which will vibrate as the lure is reeled in to attract bass. The natural stone weights are smaller than comparable lead weights because they absorb water and get heavier.
Granite nearly always is found in massive formations. Hard and enduring, the stone is popular in building and construction and in sculpture work. Stone Mountain in Georgia is one of the Earth's largest granite formations.
Stainless steel barrel weights come in bullet and egg shapes and an assortment of weights. These barrel weights are more sensitive than lead shot and the price is usually only about 20 cents more than for lead barrel weights. Stainless steel is often combined with ceramic material in fishing weights.
A real advantage of steel over lead for barrel weights is that steel sinkers retain their shape and last longer, while lead is malleable and deforms easily. The advantages are real, the costs comparable, and the environment is safer for wildlife.
Tungsten and tungsten nickel alloy barrel weights are very durable, harder than steel and 25 percent smaller than comparable lead weights. Tungsten and tungsten nickel alloy barrel weights are available as barrel weights, bullet weights and ball slip shot weights.
Tungsten has an atomic weight of 183.84 and a melting point of 3,422 degrees Centigrade, Which makes it extremely heavy and hard to cast. Tungsten barrel weights are sintered from tungsten powder rather cast. The powder is put into a mold and heat is applied until the particles adhere to each other.