They sound the same, and some could argue, they mean the same. But when you’re talking lure presentation, there seems a difference between “sink rate” and those descriptions of a lure’s “fall rate.”

I don’t mean to split hairs. Bill Siemantel (Big Bass Zone, p 217) speaks of “fall rate” in discussing swimbaits that drop the through the water column more slowly, and as he puts it, “The longer it takes for a swimbait to the hit the bottom in a given water depth, the slower you can retrieve the lure without fouling or snagging it.”


However, I also know Bill as a stickler for precision. And when he speaks of specific swimbaits or other sinking lures, I think he really wants to know a lure’s actual “sink rate” which might be 1-, 2- 5-feet per two, five or whatever number of seconds. That’s an actual “rate” and is critical to lure control.

For other lures, the issue is much more subjective. Over the years, the concept of a “slow fall” has been much harder to define and is far less precise. It the emerging years of the flipping technique, Dee Thomas often used a half-ounce or heavier jig head, which, at the time, seemed inordinately heavy for such shallow fishing—and certainly at odds with the conventional tackle in use at the time.

But David Myers, who co-authored Fenwick’s “The Whole Flippin’ Story” explained that when you factor in the longer, heavier rod and 20-pound test mono, under angler control (vertically was his desire) the jig descends more slowly.

Fast forward to the great Day of the Senko and the same factors are in play. The Senko does fall slowly and quivers on the way down. Other less salty baits, however, fall even more slowly, and some require a weighted hook or other method to get a matching sink rate.

But the unweighted Senko is neither a coverage nor contour bait. It has a lot more riding on the placement of its initial fall and our desire (or hope) that it is close to where bass will see it—if not immediately, within a couple of lift-and-fall maneuverings.

For most contour fishing, however, if the bait does not elicit a bite “on a slow fall,” which is both vague and which changes with line diameter, weight in use and the number, size and configuration of the bait’s appendages, it seems less essential. In fact, it might be unnecessary most days to wait for a lure to hit the bottom.

Thus in my mind, that only emphasizes the difference between an arbitrary fall rate of a lure and the precision of a sink rate, so we need to look at the terms as two different issues.

Still, I’d be interested in your take…


6 Responses to “Fall rate or sink rate: not the same thing”

I agree with you George. There is a difference. But, my difference is different than yours. Fall rate has to do with something falling in the atmosphere. Things “fall” from the sky while things in the water sink.

Both of these terms are explained in units of length/time. It’s just one is in air and the other in atmosphere. 🙂


by George Kramer

It’s that whole fishing jargon thing that has me, Terry.

The fall rate is how fast I’m going when I hit the water after falling off the boat or bank, and my sink rate is how fast I go to the bottom….

Geo your getting into physic’s, Body weight of Lure (Mass) with density of water will equal fall rate. Take a 3/8 sinker against a 6 inch Swimbait of equal weight, which well fall the fastest?

by George Kramer

My contention is not the science, it’s that “fish talk” is imprecise, and that fishermen need to make sure of the context when talking with each other. If they understand, then it’s all good.

Alex, I think Kent Brown knows exactly what you’re talking about. 🙂