Wolframite the “devourer of tin” may seem like an odd thing to read about in a bass magazine article but here we are in fact doing just that.  Wolframite, a mineral that hinders the smelting of tin in the extraction process does in fact have a place in fishing.  That place you ask? It’s in every bass angler’s arsenal of fishing weights. 

Wolframite is composed of Wolfram aka Tungsten.  Tungsten, one of the rarest elements on Earth is valued greatly as a fishing weight because of its high density.  As the heaviest element known to be biologically functional, Tungsten has a density near that of gold.  This allows a nice transfer of vibration to signal what’s on the floor of the lake or that ever so light nibble by a bass.

The manufacturing of tungsten fishing weights is not an easy process.  Tungsten, from the Swedish words tung sten meaning “heavy stone” melts at 6192 degrees Fahrenheit or 3695 Kelvin.  The refining procedures for shaping and producing the weights we all cherish is anything less than easy.  The health risk of inhaling the dust is fairly significant and The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has set an exposure limit of 5 mg/m3 over an 8-hour work day and a 10 mg/m3 exposure over a short-term limit.  The over exposure is known to cause cancer and other health issues.

Wolfram aka Tungsten

May 2021, Volume 125

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The most selective of anglers may think they have to have their brand due to its purity or density.  Well even that won’t fly with Tungsten.  Tungsten isn’t simply melted together and poured to form a weight like lead.  Rather it is “sintered” together.  This means the tungsten dust or powder is compacted together in its desired form with other impurity metal powder that will melt at lower temperatures.  These metals are usually various mixtures of copper, nickel, tin, lead, or iron.  This is why even the most pure of tungsten weights will usually only be 97% or 97.5% pure tungsten.  So just because you buy a bigger name brand, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting more pure metal.

With an estimated 80% of the raw material reserves of Tungsten on Earth being in China the majority of manufactured products from the “heavy stone” mineral comes from the Peoples’ Republic as well.  Almost all tungsten weights made come from China.  The weights are imported by various companies and resold to anglers through various name brands. 

The various brands are then sold at retailers for prices that reflect several things, but mostly what anglers are willing to pay for the product.  Name recognition goes a long way no doubt but maybe shouldn’t be the sole driving force behind your tungsten selection process.  We would encourage you to try several brands and decide on a brand you are comfortable with for price and performance. 

Most will find tungsten is similar to sugar, as long as the tea is sweet no one cares what brand sugar you use.  So as you shop for Tungsten we encourage you to find a retailer you can support that is local and part of the Louisiana Bass Fishing Community, and perhaps even a brand of tungsten that supports the local tackle companies as well!  There are several brands such as Shongaloo Outdoors, Bryant’s Custom Jigs, Southern Punch, and many others in our great state who offer the same tungsten product you can get in the big box store, usually from the same suppliers of the name brands, and almost always for less.  So for all your Geaux Bassin’ needs, remember to SHOP LOCAL and support your local Bassin’ community!

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Shongaloo Outdoors offers 97% pure tungsten products and is owned 100% by Louisiana residents and contributors to the Louisiana Bass Fishing Community.  Consider sourcing your tungsten from local companies that source it from the same overseas countries as the big name brands.

Southern Punch offers 97% pure tungsten products and is owned 100% by a Louisiana resident and contributor to the Louisiana Bass Fishing Community.  Consider sourcing your tungsten from local companies that source it from the same overseas countries as the big name brands.