Lead fishing weights are highly toxic and contaminate our rivers, streams and lakes. Not only are they bad for the fish that we catch for sport and food, but lead sinkers kill birds and other aquatic species, such as insects that the fish depend on as a food source, as well.
Several states have begun banning the use of lead fishing sinkers and weights altogether in lakes and rivers. As a result of these bans, or possibly because of a continuing increase in conservation awareness, many companies have begun marketing lead alternatives and lead free fishing weights and sinkers. Many times these companies brand these fishing weights and sinkers as eco weights or eco fishing sinkers to let the consumer know that they are better for the environment and will not harm fish, birds, and other aquatic species. One of the largest concerns of state and wildlife agencies is the effect that lead sinkers have on bird populations. Loons for example, have been found to ingest lead sinkers, like split shot, and become ill and die.
Many eco weights on the market are created from alternative materials like tin, bismuth, iron, tungsten, brass and more. Often times these materials, like tungsten for example, are denser, harder and heavier than lead so it is actually advantageous to the angler to use it in place of lead. Other materials like brass beads work well to replace jig heads with. Not only are there real fishing advantages to using alternative lead materials like tungsten and brass, but the environmental advantage is an extra bonus.
Another great alternative to lead weights are the eco weights that South Bend, and other companies, manufacture. They are created from a harmless biodegradable compound so if the weight is lost under water it will eventually decompose and leave no harmful or toxic after effects. Since the weight is an organic compound it literally will leave no waste behind or have harmful effects on wildlife and fish.
Lead alternative or lead free fishing weights work just as well as lead weights in many cases and offer the angler peace of mind in knowing that they are not contributing to the pollution and intoxication of our fishing waterways. There are now lead free products on the market that have a distinct advantage over lead as well, such as tungsten putty that molds into the size and shape of weight that the angler wishes to use. With the way that many of our fisheries, lakes, rivers and stream are declining it is important that each and every one of us does our part to keep them clean. The availability of lead free fishing weights gives us the ability to do our part in taking greater responsibility for the environment, ecology, and nature.