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Tadpole or Guppy Weights?

Do you fish Tadpole Divers or Guppy Weights? This is a question I’m asked commonly. My answer surprises some folks when I simply say both!

The fact is while both Tadpole Divers and Guppy Weights achieve similar trolling goals, I tend to use them for different purposes and at different times.


Tadpole Divers are unique in that they achieve their depth two ways. Because these divers are negatively buoyant, they sink and achieve depth based on the size used, trolling lead selected and also the trolling speed. The Tadpole Diver however also features a diving lip similar to a crankbait that allows these devices to achieve greater depths than other in-line trolling weights.

One of the biggest advantages of the Tadpole is they can be used to reach significant depth without having to play out excessively long trolling leads. Any avid troller will tell you that it’s critical to target fish at the depths they are found, but it is also important to achieve those depths with the least amount of trolling lead practical. Keeping trolling leads manageable speeds up the process of both setting lines and fighting fish.

This simple illustration shows one of the more common ways that Tadpole Divers are used. In addition to spinner rigs like pictured here, Tadpole divers fish exceptionally well in combination with spoons for targeting walleye, trout and salmon.

Tadpole Divers come in four sizes including the No. 1, 2, 3 and Magnum. When targeting fish in the top 20 feet of the water column, I depend mostly on the No. 1 size when trolling at speeds of 1.5 MPH or less and the No. 2 size when trolling at speeds up to 2.5 MPH.

The No. 3 gets the nod when I’m targeting fish in the low to mid 30 foot range and the Magnum is useful for targeting fish as deep as 50 feet. The Precision Trolling Data app provides comprehensive depth data for all four sizes of the Tadpole Divers.

The second advantage of the Tadpole Diver is the unique trip mechanism. A simple cross-lok snap is tied to the fishing line and attached to the tow arm of the Tadpole. When the snap slides into the elbow of the tow arm the diver engages and will dive much like a crankbait. When a fish strikes and is hooked, the snap slides to the forward position on the tow arm and the Tadpole is transformed from a diving weight to an in-line weight.

This simple and flawless trip mechanism allows anglers to fight the fish instead of the trolling weight. For most trolling applications I recommend using a fluorocarbon leader about 60 to 72 inches in length for fishing Tadpoles.

I routinely use Tadpoles for fishing spinner rigs for walleye, trolling small spoons for walleye and also for trolling spoons in the spring time when targeting coho salmon and brown trout.


The Guppy Weights can be fished either as an in-line weight with a leader attached to the back of the Guppy or as a Snap Weight by adding an OR16 Snap Weight Clip. The Snap Weight option allows the Guppy to be placed on the line anywhere between the lure and rod tip.

Using the Snap Weight option allows anglers to separate the weight from their bait or lure. This option is critically important when fishing in clear waters where fish tend to be more spooky.

Guppy Weights come in several sizes including 1/2, 1, 1.5, 2 and 3 ounce models. The 1/2, 1, 1.5 and 2.0 sizes are included in the Precision Trolling Data app.

Because Guppy Weights achieve depth based on their weight, leader length and trolling speed these in-line sinkers are most efficient at slower trolling speeds. I tend to use Guppy Weights as an in-line weight most often when targeting fish near the surface. The lighter sizes of the Guppy Weights are ideal for targeting walleye, steelhead, brown trout or other species found within the top 10 feet.

For every rule in fishing there is an exception to that rule. When fish show up on bottom, combining the Snap Weight version of the Guppy with diving crankbaits is an excellent option for getting these lures deeper while at the same time keeping trolling leads manageable.

The Guppy Weight is ideal for targeting walleye, steelhead, coho and brown trout found near the surface. When using the Snap Weight in combination with diving crankbaits this trolling strategy works exceptionally well for targeting bottom loving walleye, brown trout and lake trout.


Precision Trolling Data recently released the 50 Plus 2 Method designed to provide specific depths for anglers who fish select crankbaits in combination with the two ounce Snap Weight. To date 16 popular crankbaits have been tested with the two ounce Snap Weight at two popular trolling speeds. A list of the 16 baits currently available with this data can be found on the web page.

The 50 Plus 2 Method involves controlling specific variables including lead length, Snap Weight size, dropper or secondary lead lengths and trolling speed. This system is based on letting out a fixed lead length of 50 feet and then attaching a two ounce Snap Weight to the line. Once the Snap Weight is attached, additional “dropper” or secondary leads can be deployed out to a total lead length of 150 feet.

This data is based on two popular trolling speeds including 1.5 and 2.5 MPH, making it useful for a wide range of trolling applications.


Both Guppy Weights and Snap Weights function best when fished in combination with monofilament line. The OR16 Snap Weight Clip was designed for use with monofilament lines. To use this line clip with super braids, the line can be double wrapped around the jaw of the clip to prevent the clip from sliding on the braid and damaging the rubber pads.


Guppy Weights, Snap Weights and Tadpole Divers are all useful trolling aids. Understanding how these products function helps anglers get the most from these in-line and diving weights.

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