Leads have become an indispensable item in every freshwater angler’s tackle box and are used to perform a variety of functions. In float fishing they provide casting weight and, if the right amount of lead is selected, they cock the float enabling it to “ride’ the water with the required amount left above the surface.

Arlesey bomb

By far the most successful modern lead is the Arlesey bomb, designed by Richard Walker for casting baits 50 yards into Arlesey lake. Streamlined in shape, it is easily cast and the swivel in the top, through which the main line runs, creates minimum resistance. This swivel also ensures that if the tackle becomes twisted as it flies through the air, the twists in the line come out as the tackle sinks. The line also runs easily through the eye of the swivel no matter what the direction of pull.

The foldover or half moon lead is occasionally used in small sizes to replace split shot, but has more value as a casting weight for spinning and does not allow the line to become kinked by the strain this technique puts on it.

Coffin leads were designed to hold to the bottom in fast water—a job they performed very well. The length and shape of coffin leads, however, requires at least lin of line running through it and this sets up considerable resistance to the taking fish. To overcome this difficulty, a swivel may be placed at one end of the lead held in place by tapping it with a hammer. The line is then passed through the swivel. This reduces resistance while enabling the angler to keep the bait in one place in a fast current.


The plummet is another form of lead with a particular application. It is used by the angler to discover the depth of the water in which he intends to float fish.

The depth of the swim is ascertained by attaching the plummet, pushing the float up the line some 5ft, then casting into the swim. If the float sinks, push it farther up the line. If it lies flat it must be pushed down. When it has been adjusted correctly, the bait rests on the bottom when the plummet is removed. When the bait is presented off the bottom, it is vital that the angler knows the depth of his swim so the bait can be fished at the depth that he considers necessary or the depth fish demand.

Lead shot

No matter what its size, or how packed, it is the quality of lead shot that counts. The lead must be soft enough to open and close easily to make alteration of terminal tackle a quick and simple operation. Shot should be soft enough to be pinched onto the line.