We remember putting a chain of lead "split-shot" on the fishing line, clamping them in place with our recently-formed adult teeth. Kids-fishing-barefoot seemed to go perfectly with not carrying a pliers. When mom saw us biting the lead shot "on" she'd scream, horrified at the prospect of cracked teeth. We'll concede that going lead-free takes some of the fun away because, with the lead-free split shot, a pliers is mandatory. Not to dispair, you can still fish barefoot and get hollered at for that.
JigZilla™, by Hildebrandt, (shown here) is a fishing lure which has a weighted 'head' constructed of pure tin. The same company's Glass-Master lure (shown below the fold) has a weighted head molded of pure bismuth. What both of these new products have in common is that their heads are made of something very dense but far less toxic than the lead that was formerly used to make such tackle. Other tackle retailers, and there are many of them, offer cast glass, stainless steel, ceramic, densified polymer, or even tungsten, which is heavier than lead, for making weighted tackle. And why, might you ask, does this make a difference? Because lost or disgarded lead weights and lures are commonly ingested by loons, eagles, osprey, ducks, and other water birds, causing serious harm.
So well recognized is the wildlife hazard, that several US states have moved to ban the sale of lead fishing weights and lures. There are even organized "tackle exchanges" where anglers can swap for or buy alternatives (we highly recommend this link for an overview of the issue and solutions). WIth so many design alternatives, its a perfect example of how doing the little things can make a big difference. Fisher's are always looking for an excuse to try new tackle; so, if you happen to have a fishing buddy or a relative, and you're looking for an affordable present for them, lead free tackle is it.