Lead-Free Sales

For a growing number of anglers and retailers, lead weights are no longer an option for fishing. Whether you agree or disagree with the current political or environmental stance on lead and lead weights, they are illegal to even possess on many waters now. The list of areas that lead is banned in will, with all likelihood, continue to grow and so will the need for you to assist your customers in changing out their lead weights to lead alternatives.

There are alternatives to lead, and as a retailer you need to ensure you are stocked up on them whether you are located in a lead-free zone or not. If you are not up to date on the current offerings that are out there and their differences from lead, this article will hopefully assist in educating you so you can educate your customers.

Waterfowl hunters have been using bismuth (actually it is a bismuth-tin mixture), for years as a lead alternative in their shotgun loads and many anglers are now using it as a lead weight alternative. To achieve the same weight needed in lead, a bismuth weight would be larger size due to its lighter mass – it is approximately seventy-five percent lighter than lead. Bismuth is also more expensive than lead as well, but that is expected to come down as the demand for it grows. Overall, bismuth seems to be the least likely alternative anglers are turning to, though that trend could change.

Brass weights have been around for years and is already a staple of many bass anglers as it provides more sensitivity and creates more sound than lead. The unique sound given off by brass and a glass or plastic bead combination is highly sought after for Carolina riggers. Many panfish anglers include brass in their tackle boxes already as well because brass has one quality lead will never have: it gives an added flash when shined which many anglers rely on to attract spooky fish and in stained waters. Brass can also be painted like lead, adding even more options to an angler’s presentation.

Steel is another alternative that many anglers are looking to, much like waterfowlers have been forced to do. Steel weights generally offer a larger profile than a lead weight due to the difference in their masses and will cost you and the angler more. Steel also can be painted like brass and will add a unique sound when bounced off of structure. Like brass, steel also offers an increase in sensitivity over lead weights though it costs more.

Tungsten appears to be the leading non-lead alternative many anglers are turning to recently. Tungsten’s biggest complaint in the fishing market is its cost, something that many anglers will balk at when comparing it to their favorite lead weights. Tungsten though has a few clear-cut advantages: it is much denser than lead, making tungsten weights much smaller in size than an equally weighing lead weight. Tungsten also produces the most sensitive bites of the lead alternatives; many anglers will find the need to retrain themselves on when to set the hook due to the increased feel they have with tungsten when they first switch over from lead. Tungsten can be painted like the other lead alternatives, and produces even more noise than brass underwater when paired with a glass or plastic bead. One selling point many retailers point out and anglers are noticing is that due to tungsten’s higher mass and smaller sizes, anglers are getting hung up less in structure than they would using a similarly weighted lead weight. While this will not cut down on the overall cost of tungsten, they are breaking off less and losing fewer weights.

Whether we the fishing community like it or not, lead may become a piece of our history and something to only tell the future generations of anglers about. There are alternatives out there, and many of you are already carrying them, but some of you are still attempting to hold on to the past. If you haven’t started stocking these lead alternatives yet you may want to contact your suppliers now and get a few options on the shelves for your customers and some for you to try on your local waters. Be prepared to have customers balk at the price differences between lead and the lead alternatives. This is where your fishing knowledge will come in handy as you can share your own firsthand experiences in fishing with them and help ease the pain of the increased cost.

If you are already stocking these lead alternatives, due to necessity of living in a lead-free state or just to give your anglers something else to buy, what successes have you found? What concerns do you have with the price increases over lead? Are your anglers buying less because of the increased cost or have they re-budgeted their fishing allowance to allow for this increase in cost? Share your thoughts and experiences with us all on our Facebook page or in our LinkedIn group.