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Tungsten, Not Just for Bass Fishing

If you’re like me, bass are your favorite target, but you appreciate the value of other fish. Sometimes relaxing and soaking a bottom rig for catfish is a day well spent, and crappie and bluegill are some of the best table fare that swims. 

Due to tungsten’s high density, tungsten weights provide extra heft with more stealth. Their smaller size also helps them come through cover better—and more stealth with fewer snags catches more fish of any species. Here are a few ideas for using your tungsten next time you aren’t taking a bass trip.


Bluegill and crappie are easiest to catch in the warmer months, but they can still be caught in deeper water before they gear up for the spawn in the early season and before the onset of winter in the late season. Variations of the Drop Shot are a good way to target them when they set up in deep water. You can catch them with a simple finesse Drop Shot, Carolina Rig, or, a standby for many crappie guides, the Kentucky Rig.

The K-Rig is just a Drop Shot with two baits extending off of dropper loops above the weight. It’s often called a perch rig and sold premade where I’m from (the Great Lakes region). No matter what species you want to target with that popular rig or any of its variations, using a tungsten drop shot weight allows you to get just as deep as you would with a lead weight and reduces the risk of spooking the fish because of its smaller profile. The smaller profile comes in handy when you need something to slide easily through brush as well. You know the old adage: if you aren’t getting hung up, you aren’t crappie fishing.


Catfish aren’t exactly difficult to find or catch, but they’re certainly finicky about the way a bait feels and will often test a bait by picking it up and dropping it several times before committing. The K-Rig is popular for catfish too because it allows for fishing above structure, but the dropper loops attached to the hook also ensure that the fish feels no resistance when it takes the bait. A simple Carolina Rig is also popular for catfish because they can run with it without feeling resistance. The smaller profile of tungsten can save you some snags here too.

With either of those rigs, a large weight can be necessary to hold a big live bait in the strike zone or keep the rig stationary when river fishing. The size of tungsten works in your favor again here. Not only do 1-ounce and larger lead weights take up a lot of room in a tackle box, their extra surface area catches in rocks and timber more easily.

Walleye and Trout

I lump these two together because they’re both cold-water species. If you’ve never considered a Drop Shot for walleye, you could be missing out. Many of the soft plastic baits that are made with walleye in mind are ideal for the Drop Shot because they’re small and extra flexible. In addition to the benefits I’ve already mentioned for using tungsten with a drop shot, there is the sensitivity factor. Walleye congregate near rocks and areas where one bottom type transitions to another. A tungsten weight will help you determine what kind of rock you’re fishing as well as hang up less often.

As far as trout go, fishing for wild trout in little streams calls for light tackle, and small tungsten weights are the perfect way to downsize. If you’re chasing much larger steelhead trout, you’ll benefit from the same type of downsizing. Steelhead are notoriously line shy and favor tiny baits. Drifting a small jig or clump of salmon roe under a slip float is one of the most common tactics for steelhead, and counter-weighting with tungsten is a great way to keep your presentation subtle while ensuring that the slip float stands up straight and goes under easily.


- Lily Rex is a lifelong multi-species angler and writer from Indiana. You can follow her on Instagram @feministfisherman

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