Making Your Own Sinkers is Fun and Simple

Few tasks give me as much pleasure as making my own tackle. Making sinkers came out of necessity rather than desire and I have never regretted starting this. If you loose sinkers in high numbers it is an economical decision to make your own. If you do not have access to or cannot find the exact sinkers you need it is a wise decision to make your own. I happen to have all these issues so I decided to learn how to pour my own sinkers. I am in no way supporting polluting our waterways with lead but when you fish in cover you loose sinkers and this helps reduce the cost of such fishing trips. Making your own sinkers allows you to design rigs that work for your specific conditions and needs. Fishing rivers demands exact presentations and with the correct sinker you can make it look easy. Here is my method of making sinkers that anyone can follow and with a few simple tools and techniques you can create your own sinkers.

Here's How I Do It

Step 1: For making sinkers you need a melting pot (here I am using a Lee Pro 4-20 pot) to melt the lead, some molds (I use Do-It molds only), safety glasses, particle mask and leather gloves. REMEMBER: Melting lead and casting lead objects can expose you and others in the area to lead, which is known to cause birth defects, other reproductive harm and cancer!!!! Protect yourself by using all available safety equipment. Never attempt this in a location without strong ventilation. The fumes coming off the melting lead are where all the damage is, so make sure you have good ventilation and moving air. Use a portable electric fan, if needed, to create proper ventilation. I do this outside and I still use the mask and glasses to ensure proper protection
Step 2: Choose a location that has a level solid surface that will not be damaged by any lead that may splatter or spill on it. Always have a good supply of pure lead on hand. Tire weights and other forms of lead can be filled with impurities that will keep you from creating a quality product. Make sure you use pure lead with no other additions to it. This is a great way to recycle all those old weights that you no longer use. I am using old decoy weights that I no longer use. Keep everything at close reaching distance and ensure that the power cord is easily accessible and out of the way in case an emergency arises. I always have multiple molds so I can pour many different styles and sizes of the sinkers I will be using. This a big endeavor for me so I maximize my time by pouring all sizes and types at the same time.
Step 3: For the Lee production pot I am using, the temperature adjustment is easy. When melting lead for making sinkers you are attempting to accomplish two task: melt the lead and keep it at a temperature that will allow you work with it easily. I usually turn the heat to a high setting to get the lead melted then I reduce the temperature once the entire pot is heated. The temperature should be hot enough to keep the lead in free flowing state but not hot enough to produce bubbles. Lead melts at 612 degrees so you need a strong heat source to keep lead in a good fluid state. You could use a thermometer to keep the temperature around 650 degrees but I have found them to be a luxury item that I break. I usually start at medium heat on my unit and adjust as needed. The air temperature will affect how the lead heats or cools so take that into consideration when heating your lead.
Step 4: Lead, even pure lead, will have impurities once it is melted. These will rise to the top as they are lighter than lead so you will need to scoop these out. I use a cooking spoon to collect and remove this material. You can see, in the photo, the impurities are a darker color than the lead and are easily collected. Cleaning these impurities will also extend the life of your melting pot as they will corrode the metal. Use caution when removing impurities! The lead is at least 600 degrees and it can cause serious damage. Use gloves and a long handled serving spoon to remove this. I also have a large metal can close to dump all the impurities into for disposal. Clean as much of this off the top as possible. You will also need to repeat this process each time you add lead or as you stir up the lead in the pot.
Step 5: My Lee production pot has an adjustable mold guide to quickly and accurately position any mold for pouring. If you choose to use it adjust it before you begin pouring sinkers. This is a neat feature but it does not work well with multiple molds of different sizes, so I rarely use it. The purpose of the guide is to reduce the time that the lead is exposed to the air. As lead is cooled it can dry in layers by reducing the time that lead is exposed to air the lead will remain at a constant temperature and produce a better sinker. If you are using a pot and ladle system position your mold so it as close as safely possible to the heat source. Also allow the ladle to heat up in the lead before you use it. As you add more lead to your pot allow ample time for the lead to heat to the correct temperature before use.
Step 6: I always begin my sinker making section by pouring some ingot blocks. This serves the purpose of creating blocks of lead that are pure and ready  for use but it also allows me to gauge my lead temperature and flow rate settings. Ingot pouring is usually done while I am waiting for the molds to cool. So I am constantly checking my lead pour rates to get the most consistent pour. For me the lead ingots do not have to be pretty as they are a functional item not a fashion item. Here I am using a Lee ingot mold that creates one-half and one pound ingots. You can also use a cast iron corn bread muffin pan, if you can find one. These ingots can be cast out of anything as long as it will hold up to the heat and allow the lead to be removed easily. Tin cans are not a good choice as they will melt and contaminate your lead.
Step 7: Pour rates that are not correct will produce sinkers that are not smooth or have cracks in them. Always our a few sample sinkers to warm up the mold and use these to evaluate the flow rate. On this unit the flow rate is adjusted by the screw at the top of the unit. If the sinkers are drying with rolls or cracks increase the flow. If the cavity opening is filling before the cavity decrease the flow rate. I can not provide any real data here all I can do is say try it and find out what works best. If you are using a pot and ladle use this opportunity to adjust the heat of the pot to achieve the quality of sinker that you desire. The smoother and prettier the finish the better the pour rate is. I also adjust the temperature setting to match the flow rate setting. By this I mean that I adjust the temperature to create a solid flow yet not clog the tip at the same time.
Step 8: Fill the cavity until the lead is flowing out the top. This is also one of the things you will develop a feel for. As you see some of the cavities are fuller than others but this does not matter. All you need to be concerned with is the fact that the cavity is full and the sinker is complete. Do not let the lead fill to the point that it covers up the cavity next to the one you are pouring in as this will keep you from filling the adjoining cavity.
Step 9: After pouring the sinkers, I place the mold on it side so it cannot come open and allow the mold to cold before I open it. Usually a few minutes is all that is needed to accomplish this. Once open the sinkers should look like these. Notice how the filling of the cavities forms a fill cavity bulb that is called a sprue. The sinkers could be either side of the mold so open it close to the table with the fill cavity down, this way if a sinker does come out it will fall on the table and not on the ground.
Step 10: Using gloves I remove the sinkers from the mold. The sprue (the extra bulbous shape at the end of the sinker) on the end can be removed using side cutting pliers or end nippers. On larger sized sinkers you can break the sprue off easier than cutting it. Cut the sprue as close to the body of the sinker as possible without damaging the sinker. Be careful when you cut the sprue off as it will fly away from the cutting surface. I try holding my hand around the sinker and the sprue to control both the sinker and the sprue from flying away.
Step 11: Once the sprue has been removed from the sinker they are now complete. Congratulations you have now created your own sinkers! With good equipment and proper technique you can easily and safely produce sinkers for yourself. If you have ever had to buy sinkers you know the cost associated with it and the cost of the equipment will easily pay for itself. Here are some bank sinkers that are cleaned and ready for use. Notice how you can easily read the size and the sinkers are rather smooth in texture, you too can achieve these results.
Step 12: In just a couple of hours I produced all these sinkers and ingots. Once you get started it really takes not time to produce quality products. once created these can be sold or used as needed. With a couple of these sessions you can produce enough sinkers to last for a year long season. Just imagine the money you have saved just by pouring your own sinkers. From amberjacks to zebra fish sinkers can be used to catch it and by pouring your own you now have more money to spend on other items.

Products Used

  • Do It Molds
    Do It Bank sinker mold was used here
    Molds for lure and sinker creation with all the supporting products

The High Points.....

  • Safety first, follow all the rules
  • Heat the lead
  • Pour some practice sinkers
  • Cut off the sprue from the sinker