Use of Lead Fishing Tackle on Inland Waters

On this page:

Fish Lead-Free to Protect Maine's Loons and Other Wildlife

Fishing lead-free is better for our wildlife and the health of our lakes. Ingested lead fishing tackle is the second leading cause of death for adult common loons (12.2%) of which there are around 4,300 adults across the state. Keeping lead sinkers and jigs out of Maine waters will increase the survival of these birds and will allow for continued population growth of this species across the northeast.

MDIFW is proudly partnered with Maine Audubon to help anglers switch to lead-free tackle.

Back to top

Understanding the Law Regarding the Sale and Use of Lead Sinkers and Lead Jigs

The sale and use of lead sinkers and unpainted lead jigs less than 2.5 inches long and/or weighing less than 1 ounce is currently prohibited.

Beginning September 1, 2024, the SALE of painted lead jigs less than 2.5 inches long and/or weighing less than 1 ounce is prohibited; and beginning September 1, 2026, the USE of painted lead jigs less than 2.5 inches long and/or weighing less than 1 ounce is prohibited.

The prohibited USE of lead sinkers and jigs is interpreted to apply to all inland waters and not to tidal waters.

"Lead sinker" means a device that contains lead that is designed to be attached to a fishing line and intended to sink the line.

"Lead sinker" and "lead jigs" do not include artificial lures, weighted line, or weighted flies.

The measurement of the lead sinker or lead jig shall include all components that are permanently manufactured to the lead itself. This does not include any additional items that have been added to the original manufactured device.

Back to top

Lead-Free Options

Non-toxic tackle comes in many metal choices, and modern metal alloys offer several advantages:

  • They are environmentally safe.
  • They have more sound-producing qualities to call in those fish and up your catch.
  • Tungsten is denser and harder than lead, which allows the angler to "feel" the bait more effectively.
  • Tackle made from tin, bismuth, and steel alloys are lighter than lead, and many anglers have reported good success using lighter baits and lures because they have a more natural appearance and presentation.
  • Any fishing tackle containing zinc is not recommended because it is also toxic to wildlife.

Learn where to buy lead-free tackle in Maine.

Back to top

Other Ways to Help Maine's Loons

  • Obey the no-wake law within 200 feet of shore.
  • Dispose of fishing line so it does not get tangled up on a loon's feet or bill.
  • Watch loons from a distance. If a loon is showing stress behaviors, leave the area. Learn about loon stress behaviors.
  • If you see a loon on a nest, keep your distance and watch with binoculars.

For more information, please visit

Back to top