Don’t Go Fishing Without Your Bullets

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By Louis Cahill

Air rifle pellets make cheap and effective weights for fly-fishing.

The thing I love about fly fishing is, there is always something to learn. I would have never thought of this simple fly fishing life-hack if I hadn’t fished in Argentina. Imported fishing gear is crazy expensive in many places overseas. The idea, that started as a money saver, actually has some performance benefits as well.

The idea is simple. Use the needle on your nippers to punch a hole in the nose of an air rifle pellet, then slip your leader through and retie. There is no chance of the weight falling off, or damaging your leader, like split shot can. Lots of anglers do this with cone heads, made for fly tying, but pellets are a fraction of the cost and work just as well. Personally, I like the idea of using lead and knowing it isn’t going to fall off in the river.

You can use the weight directly on the nose of the fly, with streamers for example, or place it above a blood knot anywhere on your leader. You can even use several at different points on your leader to sink the heavy butt section, which is effective for deep-water nymphing. You can use .22 cal for heavy weight or .177 cal for lighter weight. 

Pellets have gotten fancy since I was a kid. There are a lot of different types on the market now. I feel like the closer you get to the old-school pellets, the easier they are to work with. Some of the fancier new styles might require that you drill holes ahead of time. If you experiment, you’ll quickly find what works best for you.

I used pellets all week, while fishing streamers on high water. It was very effective and I never lost a pellet. Give it a try next time you need to get your flies down deep. You’ll save some money and you might find you like it better than split shot. I did.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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4 thoughts on “Don’t Go Fishing Without Your Bullets

  1. I like the idea. For some years now, I have been looking for very small bullet weights, without luck. This is a great idea. The thread on weights don’t cause weakness points in your tippet, like split shot does. They do cause you to do some planning ahead and lost fishing time, but well worth the price to keep lead out of the water.

  2. Bass Pro carries Winchester hollow point .177 caliber 500 count lead airgun pellets for $8 as of 2-2019. 9.7grains, is a touch over 1/50 of an ounce.

    SKU: 2095264

    Amazon carries Crosman Premier hollow point .22 caliber 500 count lead airgun pellets for about $15 as of 2-2019. 14.3 grains, is a touch over 1/32 of an ounce.

    PKG# LHP22A511

    Hollow points lead pellets should be easier to drill a hole into.

    The .177cal is the rough equivalent to a #BB size split shot. The .22cal is the rough equivalent to a #3/0 split shot.

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