How to Fish With Slip Sinkers

by Mandy Slake

Slip sinkers come in two basic types: sinkers with holes running through them or sinkers with a ring at the top. Slip sinkers are mainly used for bait fishing when you don't want the fish to feel the resistance of pulling the sinker along. If a fish feels resistance of a fixed sinker on the line, it may drop the bait. When a fish picks up the bait on a slip sinker rig and swims away, the line runs freely through the sinker.

Items you will need

  • Slip sinker
  • Swivel
Step 1

Select the sinker for the type of water you will be fishing. Slip sinkers come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Flat slip sinkers are designed to stay in place in heavy current, whereas teardrop or egg-shaped sinkers are designed for still water and tend to roll in current.

Step 2

Slide the slip sinker onto your line by threading the line through the hole or ring in the sinker.

Step 3

Tie a swivel on the end of the line. You want a swivel with rings that are large enough to prevent the swivel from slipping through the sinker. A swivel will also prevent line twist.

Step 4

Tie your leader onto the opposite end of the swivel. If you are using a floating bait, make the leader long enough so the bait floats up where the fish can find it. Tie the hook to the opposite end of the leader.

Step 5

Cast the sinker and bait or lure into a likely looking spot. Once the sinker hits the bottom, reel up the excess line, but leave a small amount of slack. When the line becomes tight, it means a fish has picked up the bait and is swimming away with it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some slip sinkers are designed so you can attach or remove them without cutting the line. You can also buy devices that allow you to switch slip sinkers quickly. These types of rigs usually require you to use a sinker with a ring rather than the hole-through-the-middle type.
  • Inspect the knot that attaches the swivel to the main line frequently. A sinker banging against the knot can damage the line, causing the knot to break when fighting a fish. You can protect the knot by slipping a rubber stopper or small plastic bead on the line before tying on the swivel.


  • "The Complete Guide to Freshwater Fishing"; Editors of Creative Publishing; 2002
  • "Fishing Basics: The Complete Illustrated Guide"; Gene Kugach; 1993