The primary fishing weight for bass fishing is the bullet-shaped worm weight; this is used for Texas and Carolina rigging. The composition of this weight from the start has been lead—and why not, it is cheap, effective and abundant. This meant anglers' wouldn't have to worry about losing these weights when their rig got snagged on brush or wedged in between rocks. The issue with lead though, (in theory) is the health and environmental issues it poses.
Tungsten weights emerged on the fishing scene several years ago and have taken the market by storm, as there are now more than handful of companies that offer tungsten worm weights, flipping weights and drop-shot weights for anglers to choose from.
The main benefit with tungsten is its denser, meaning you can use a larger amount of with a smaller profile than what lead offers. Tungsten is also harder than lead, meaning the angler gains a better "feel" to what lies beneath. The downside, despite the availability of tungsten is increasing, it is still more expensive than lead.
In between the original lead weights and today's tungsten choices, brass has become an option for bass anglers to choose from—especially when they were employing a Carolina-rig. Why brass? Well the noise it emitted when bounced off a bead on a C-rig was louder than lead could produce.
Today, many anglers may only rely on one weight option, but for me I rely on all three, here are the scenarios where I employ each:
Lead: For me, lead still has a place in my boat; I do like fishing a 1/4-ounce weight in front of my tube. Why? Well it is a confidence thing for me. Also when pre-fishing or fishing around rock, where sinkers can become lodged easily, lead can be used, so you don't break the bank account by losing your valuable tungsten weights.
Tungsten: Like many other bass angler's, my primary choice for weights is tungsten. When flipping heavy cover, I like to use a 1/2-, 3/4- or even 1-ounce weight to get through the cover. With tungsten weights I can increase the weight and reduce the profile allowing it to penetrate dense weeds and cover faster and more effectively.
Brass: As I mentioned above, brass is a great choice when Carolina-rigging and this is my preference. Some companies offer pre-rigged brass weight and bead options, such as this model by Eagle Claw.