Fishing Dictionary

Glossary of Fishing Related Words and Terms

A reference page containing an alphabetical list of words or other linguistic terms used by fishermen and anglers with specialised information about them including meanings

To help the beginner to angling to understand what his mates may be saying!

Fishing (also called Angling) is the sport of catching fish, freshwater or saltwater, typically with rod, line, and hook. Like hunting, fishing originated as a means of providing food for survival.

In its most basic form, fishing is throwing out a fishing line and pulling in the fish when it goes for your fishing bait or fishing lure. It sounds so plain and simple, however, throughout the history of fishing, various fishing disciplines have emerged that target specific fishing conditions and species of fish. These fishing variations have their own unique fishing equipment, know-how, and technical skills. The type of water in which they are done, the kind of fish you want to catch, as well as the kind of fishing equipment used are also determinants of these fishing disciplines.

Fishing is one of the most well-liked forms of recreation in the world. In fact in the United States it is secondary only to swimming as the most popular leisure activity and in the UK it is said there are more people goes fishing on a Saturday than go to football matches. People of all ages and both sexes get hooked up on fishing each year. They enjoy fishing in many variations – fly fishing, bait fishing, lure fishing, and many other fishing disciplines. Fishing can be done from the banks of rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and canals or from the deck of a fishing boat. You can fish alone or better yet with your family or a couple of friends for a nice bonding experience.

Fishing as a hobby or leisure activity is done with fishing tackle which includes the fishing rod, fishing reel, fishing line, fish hooks, and fishing lures or fishing baits. Each piece of equipment has its own features and characteristics and are designed based on different situations. Aside from knowing the equipment, there are so many categories, areas, specialties, and skills that you must know if you decide to go on this adventure. You can try to master them all, but you do not have to. It is a lot of work and will probably take almost half of your life in making yourself proficient on all there is to know about fishing. Whats important is that you have the ideas on the different aspects of fishing so that you will be able to determine which style, type, or technique best suits you.

Thank you to Edward from Crawley UK for this submission 14th April 2009

Action- description of the flexibility of a rod. Rods have a fast or slow action. Fast action rods are generally stiffer overall but bend more at the tip. These are often used in feeder fishing. Slow action rods are more flexible with some flexing their entire length. These are mainly float fishing rods.

Adipose fin– a small fleshy fin with no rays, located between the dorsal and caudal fins

Adjustable bankstick- a bankstick made with a hollow tubed rod that has a sliding insert that allows you to change the height

Affluent- a stream or river that flows into a larger one; a tributary

Air Bladder- a tough walled gas filled sac in the upper part of the body cavity of many bony fishes just beneath the vertebral column; its principal function is to offset the weight of heavier tissue such as bone. In some fishes used for sound production or respiration.

Albright knot- common knot used for tying the backing to fly line.

Alevin- the developmental life stage of young salmonids and trout that are between the egg and fry stage. The alevin has not absorbed its yolk sac and has not emerged from the spawning gravels

Algae- plant organisms found in both ponds and lakes.

Allcocks of Redditch- reel manufacturers

Amnesia fishing line- memory free solid monofilament line popular with carp and sea anglers

Anadromous- fish that ascend rivers to spawn – fish that migrate to the sea to grow and mature, and migrate back to fresh water to spawn and reproduce

Anal fin– the fin located on the ventral median line and behind the anus

Angler- one who fishes with a pole or rod and reel

Angling- term used for fishing. It is the sport of catching fish, freshwater or saltwater, typically with rod, line, and hook.

Anti fall back- A safety feature designed to prevent in-line lead weights from falling back towards the fish when the rod is raised. This can be something simple such as a split shot placed on the line somewhere above the hook, or a swivel tied between the hook and the lead.

Anti tangle lead- lead weight with a piece of silicone tubing through the centre projecting a centimetre either end to protect the line from abrasion

Anti-reverse- mechanism on the reel that prevents the spools of multipliers and fixed-spool reels from turning backwards

Aquaculture- The controlled cultivation and harvest of aquatic plants or animals such as edible marine algae, clams, oysters, and salmon

Arbor- the centre of a centrepin reels spool. The arbor can also be a knot

Arbor knot- knot used for tying backing to the arbor of the fly reel.

Arlsey bomb- a pear shape lead weight developed by the late Dick Walker used for fishing

Artificial Baits- lures or flies made of wood, plastic, metal, feathers, or similar inert material

Attractor- this is an additive that is used with the bait or mixed with the groundbait. Flavour attractors can be sweet or spicy. Brasem is a good additive used for catching bream

Back shot- back shot can be the piece of shot placed up the line behind a sliding leger or feeder or is a piece of shot placed on the line behind a float to help keep it steady in windy conditions. The piece of shot is placed about a foot away from the float tip and is usually a piece of shot from the float rig so it doesnt sink

Back cast- the casting of line in a direction opposite to the direction the fly is intended to go. The backward counterpart of the forward cast which acts to create a bending action on the fly rod, setting up the conditions to generate the forward cast and present the fly.

Backing line- old line or string padding that is attached to a reel to fill up the spool before attaching the line

Backwater- an area of a river that is sometimes isolated

Bagging up- catching lots of fish during a fishing session

Bag limit- fishery restriction in the number of fish that an angler may retain, on a per trip or daily basis. Generally pertaining to trout.. Also known as Creel limit

Bail arm- the wire part of a fixed-spool reel that guides the line on the spool

Bait- anything used on the hook to entice and capture the fish

Bait band- used with boilies and pellets etc. A small elastic band that is wrapped around a bait and the hook is passed under the band or nicked through it so that the bait hangs from the side or the base of the hook. Bait bands are available in a variety of sizes to suit different sized baits

Bait boat- remote controlled boat used mainly for carp fishing by carp anglers or by specialist anglers to place both their baited rig and loose feed, such as boilies, accurately at distances unachievable by casting

Bait box- used for carrying your bait such as maggots

Bait-clip- a clip that holds the baited hook during the cast

Bait dropper- a device used to put hookbait samples down to the bottom of your swim. It is basically a cage with a door on the side held closed with a latch. When lowered down to the bottom the latch is pushed up and opens the cage door letting the bait fall out

Bait fish- any fish that is of primary prey to a larger fish

Bait needle- a needle that has had one side of the eye removed making a small hook. When used for baiting a hair rig you put the boilies or whatever bait you want to use onto this needle and then hook the hair rig loop onto the needle and pull the bait off the needle and onto the hair rig line. Then you put a bit of grass or boilie stop through the loop to hold the bait on, pull the bait down to it and your ready to go

Bait rocket- a rocket shaped device of different sizes used a lot by carp anglers for getting bait out to where they are fishing. The rocket is tied onto the end of your line then filled with boilies or other particle bait and cast out into your swim. When the rocket hits the water it flips upside down emptying out the contents

Baitrunner- especially used by carp or specimen anglers this is an open faced reel with a rear drag system that has a lever at the back. Line can be pulled off freely by a hooked fish and when the lever is activated the normal drag mechanism is engaged

Baitwell- a special well in a boat that holds the bait

Ball bearings- small metal balls added to the mechanical mechanism of high-quality reels to make the retrieve smoother. Normally the more ball bearings a reel has the higher quality.

Balling up- throwing in lots of balls of groundbait into your swim such as at the start of a bream fishing session

Balsa- type of wood floats used to be made of and still are in some cases, several lures are also manufactured from balsa wood. This wood is very light, yet highly buoyant

Bank- The ground next to a body of water.

Bank fishing- fishing from the bank of a river, lake or other water as opposed to fishing from a boat

Bankstick- a straight rod that is pointed at one end and is threaded at the other end. The pointed is pushed into the ground. and into the threaded end is screwed a rod rest, keepnet or bait alarm. A reed cutter can be screwed into a bankstick making it into a long handle. Also if sitting in a chair an angler can use two banksticks with a rod rest attached to each so that the rod is held off the ground at the right height for reaching

Barb- a sharp pointed raised burr cut in the hook just behind the point of a hook. To stop the bait or a fishing coming of the hook

Barbel- a hard fighting coarse fish species targeted by individuals or specialist anglers,seeBarbel

Barbless hooks- fish friendly hooks that are made without a barb. Easier to penetrate and easier to remove. As long as pressure is kept on the line when a fish is hooked the losing of the fish is minimised

Barbules- fleshy projections from the mouth of fish such as carp and barbel.

Bass- sea fish – a very popular game fish in the USA

Bay- indentation in the shoreline of a river, lake or other body of water

Bead- beads are small plastic balls with a hole through the centre for the line to go through. Placed on the line before and after weights they are used as a buffer to protect the line when casting or striking

Bed chair- a padded folding chair carp anglers use, can be unfolded into a bed

Big chuck- To make a very long distance cast

Birds nests- tangled fishing line often caused by the main line coming off the spool to quickly

Bite alarm- many types available.. An electronic device that beeps when movement of your line is detected. Notifies you when you are otherwise occupied that a fish has taken your bait. Similar in shape to a rod rest with a V shape for sitting the rod into

Bite or biting- when fish has had or is having a go at your bait

Bivvy- a domed shaped tent that has a large opening at the front so that you can fish from under it. Mainly used by carp or specimen anglers

Blank- this has two meanings. The first meaning is used in rod building. It describes a section of the rod with no rod rings etc. The second meaning is the day we all have at sometimes, when you do not catch any fish at all

Blind cast- casting to no particular area

Block end feeder- sometimes called a maggot feeder. This is used on your line to carry groundbait or hookbait offerings into your swim. Maggots are the main type of bait used. The block end feeder is a plastic tube device with holes drilled into the sides, blocked at one end with a cap at the other that opens to insert bait or groundbait. They vary in size from 2 centimetres in length upwards with the average being 50 centimetres. The amount of holes in the feeder control the speed at which the groundbait or hookbait escapes

Blood knot- the most common knot for tying lines to the hooks, flies and lures and also used to tie two lines together

Bloodworm- seeBloodworm and Joker- bloodworm is the small reddish larva of the midge fly. Used mainly as a hook bait on small wire hooks but also used along withJokerand added to groundbait. This bait can be the difference between catching and blanking on days when bites are few. An ideal bait for use on canals.

Bobber- a float fixed to the line that holds the bait or lure at a set depth

Bobbin- used to hold the spool of thread as the fly is tied

Bodied waggler- a bodied waggler is a float with a buoyant bulb near the bottom of the float that increases the amount of shot needs to set it

Boilie- boilies are round balls of commercial or home made bait. They are made in various sizes and colours with different ingredients and flavour additives to suit the fish expected to be caught. Boilies are mainly used by carp or specimen anglers

Boilie hair stop- boilies can be used with a hair rig. To keep the boilies on the hair rig you can use something called a boilie hair stop. This is simply a tiny piece of plastic with bulbs at each end like a small dumbbell. A piece of grass can be used to do the same thing

Boilie throwing stick- a throwing stick is 30 to 45 centimetres long. They come in different lengths for different distances. They are slightly curved with an open channel at the end. The boilies are placed into this channel and you hold it with one hand behind you with the channel opening pointing forwards and in one quick movement, swing it out towards the water in front of you throwing the boilies into your swim

Bolt Rig- a bolt rig is a fishing rig normally associated with fishing for big carp and specimen anglers – a ledger rig with a short (ish) hooklength. When the fish takes the bait the hooklength straightens out and the the fish feels the weight of the lead and bolts off, causing the fish to hook itself

Boom- a boom is made of wire and used when sea fishing. Attached to the main line it holds the hook trace out from the main fishing line to help prevent tangling

Bottom feeder- refers to a bottom feeding fish such as a bream, tench, carp and catfish

Bottom fish- fish that spend most of their lives at the bottom of the water such as tench, bream, carp and catfish

Bottom fishing- fishing with the baited hook on the water bed for fish such as bream, tench, carp and catfish

Brackish- water that is mostly fresh, with some salt. The far ends of tidal creeks are mostly brackish, supporting sometimes fresh and saltwater fish

Braided line- or braid for short is a low diameter, low stretch fishing line, made by braiding together several strands of man made fibre. Used primarily as very strong hook length material when targeting big carp or specimen fish. Braided line is very strong yet supple and has the advantage of blending in with the river or lake bottom

Bread crumb- bread crumb is ground up bread and is the best and cheapest base for any groundbait. Bread crumb is very fluffy and clouds the water very well which is ideal if fishing using bread punch. When adding water give it time to be absorbed

Bread flake- bread flake is piece of bread torn from the loaf that is pinched onto the hook as hookbait. White bread is best as hookbait

Bread punch- a bread punch is a small tube type device. There are many different sizes of bread punches for different hook sizes. The bread punch is pushed down onto a slice of fresh bread and a bit of bread is cut out. This bit of bread is placed onto the hook as hookbait. Bread punch is a great bait for all fish but especially roachBreaking strain- this is the measurement of line strength. The point at which the fishing line breaks is the breaking strain, the dead weight needed to break a line usually stated in pounds (lb) or kilograms (kg). The age of the line or knots in the line can lower this measurement so its a good idea to change your line regularly

Bream- species of freshwater fish, seeBream

Brolly- short nickname for an umbrella

Bucketmouth- in the USA a slang term for largemouth bass, bigmouth bass – in the UK a term referring to someone who uses foul language, swearing.

Bucktail- (USA) a type of fishing lure

Bulk Shot- split shot put onto the line together, bulked into a group

Bumped off- Lost a fish during the fight due to the hook pulling out

Bung- this is a small conical piece of plastic with an attachment at the end that elastic can be tied to. The bung fits inside a section of a pole, usually the second or third section and the elastic is tied to this thus anchoring it

Butt- the butt is end of the handle section of a rod

Butt pad- a cup type pad on a belt worn around the midriff that protects the holder from the butt of the rod whilst fighting fish

Buzzers- Electronic bite indication alarms used mainly by carp fishermen

Caddis- a general name for the dozens of subspecies of caddis flies found in trout streams all over the world. Also known as a sedge, they are characterized by a tent-like wing. Caddis have four stages of development, from egg to larva to pupa to adult

Cage Feeder- a cage feeder is a weighted cylindrical tube made from wire mesh. Used by fixing to the mainline, usually by way of a swivel, and filling with groundbait and casting to the are you are fishing. The groundbait attracts the fish. Used for fishing on the bottom for bottom feeders such as bream, carp, barbel and tench

Canal-a man made waterway used for navigation. A canal can also called a Cut

Carnivorous- meaning – feeding on animal tissue

Carp rod- Carp rods are made specifically for catching carp. They are made to be strong to cope with the larger carp, yet have a good constant test curve. They are usually around 11 feet long. Carp rods are usually made with carbon fibre or with a carbon / fibreglass composition. They also usually have a fixed, screw reel seat. The most common test curves for carp rods, are between 1.5 lbs. up to 3.5 lbs

Carp sack- a carp sack are a specialised bag designed to hold a carp in the water in place of a keepnet. They are made of a material that is designed not to harm any fish placed in it. The sack is designed to help keep fish calm by covering the fishes head and eyes. It is placed back down under the water, and is tethered to the bank

Carp sling- this is a specialised sling used for weighing fish. It is designed to weigh one fish at a time. The material used in making the carp sling is also designed to reduce the amount of protective slime that is removed from the carp. These can be a separate sling or incorporated into special carp landing net heads. These special carp net heads arms are designed to fold up together over the fish. The net can then be removed and act as the sling

Cast- 1. to send a bait, lure or imitation fly out onto the water by using a rod and reel.

2. a cast can be the wormlike secretion above ground covering the worm hole made by lugworms, lobworms and other worms

Casters- casters are the chrysalis form of a maggot. They are approximately 1 cm long and .3 cm wide. They are shaped like a rounded capsule. The colour of casters varies between light and dark brown. They are a great hook bait for catching roach

Casting- to send a bait, lure or imitation fly out onto the water by using a rod and reel.

Casting arc- the path that a rod takes during the cast

Catapult- a catapult is a Y shaped form of sling shot. It is used to catapult (throw out) loose bait or groundbait to the area the angler is fishing

Catch and release- releasing a fish after it has been caught.

Caudal peduncle- the tapering portion of a fishs body between the posterior edge of the anal fin base and the base of the caudal fin.

Centrepin Reel- centrepin reels are fishing reels that have a vertical drum set upon a central pin that holds the line. Mainly used for river fishing because when trotting a good centrepin will spin freely and allow the float to pull line from the reel and flow steadily with the current of the river

Char- an excellent game fish that is a cousin of the trout family

Chemically etched- a process used in the manufacturing of hooks which gives a very sharp point.

Chick Pea- a particle bait used mainly by carp anglers

Chod Rig- The Chod is a pop up rig used to present bait over weedy or silty bottom lakes. Can be used for most species but a favourite for carp anglers. seeFishing the Chod

Chopped worm- chopped worm is simply what it says, bits of worm chopped up into small pieces and used as hookbait or in groundbait. Chopped worm is a great bait for catching perch.

Chum- 1. dog meat used as a carp bait 2. a groundbait of chopped fish etc used by sea anglers fishing from a boat – thrown over the side of the boat to attract fish such as when shark fishing. Also called rubby dubby.

Circle hook- normally used for sea fishing. A circular hook up to 16/0 size, very safe to handle. The fish hooks itself with this one, and the harder they pull, the more firmly the hook imbeds itself. Ideal for releasing fish, since the circle hook is seldom swallowed.

Coarse fish- all freshwater fish other than salmon and trout are coarse fish. The word Coarse as in coarse fish, is believed to have come from many years ago when fish other than salmon and trout were considered coarse to eat.

Coarse fishing-coarse fishing is is angling for coarse fish. It encompasses many different techniques and methods used to catch coarse fish. The major techniques classified under coarse fishing are; Ledgering, Float fishing, Pole fishing, Whip fishing, Lure fishing, Bait fishing etc

Cocktail- a cocktail is a term given when using two or more types of bait on the hook at the same time

Controller / Controller float- controllers are short and stubby, pre weighted fishing floats designed to present baits on the surface for carp fishing during warm weather when they are feeding on the top

Crack off- the snapping of the line when casting, resulting in the loss of end tackle

Crankbait- a crankbait is a plastic or wooden lure with a diving bill, that dives downward when retrieved that catches fish while you are reeling (cranking) it in.

Creek- a stream of water that is smaller than a river.

Creel- a wicker basket to keep tackle and fish, normally used by trout and salmon anglers

Creel Limit-the number of fish an angler can keep as set by the fishery rules. Also known as Bag limit

Crimps- are used to secure mono line or wire that cannot be tied

Crucian Carp- species of fish, seeCrucian Carp

Crystal waggler- crystal waggler is the name for a float that has been made out of transparent plastic.

Cut- a narrow body of water. A Cut is also another name for a canal

Current- the natural flow of water in a river or sea

Cycloid scales- smooth, flat, round scales that have concentric lines called circuli, found on trout, herring, and other fish

Dacron-is a synthetic material that is popular in the manufacture of braided line used in rig traces

Dam- fishing tackle producer. Also a Dam is used to hold water back.

Dam Quick- fishing reel manufacturers

Damselfly- it appears the same as the dragonfly, they are aquatic insects found in ponds and lakes and they are an important food for many species of fish

Dap- to fish with a fly bounced gently on the water

Dapping- a technique of presenting a fly on the surface of the water where the fly is connected to a short piece of line on a long rod. The fly is then touched on the surface of the water, immediately over a place where a fish might lie. A very little used fishing technique, its a method to eliminate drag and present the fly to fish that stay close to the bank of a river

Day ticket- payment by anglers to fish a fishery for a day

Descaling- the removal of fish scales prior to cooking

Deadbait- Deadbait is a dead fish used to catch predatory fish like Pike, Eel and Zander

Deadbaiting- is using a dead fish while angling to catch predatory fish like Pike, Eel and Zander

Dendrobaena- worm used as fishing bait, full name Dendrobaena veneta (also known as the European night crawler & Eisenia hortensis), is a very tough and particularly wriggly worm, making them ideal as worms for fishing

Diamond eye threader- the diamond eye threader is used to thread elastic through the top section of poles. It is made from one long length of very thin stainless steel wire folded in half. The two halves of the wire are twisted together into one length and at the folded end the wire is opened and shaped as a four sided diamond, with a thin point at the top. The elastic is put through the hole and the other end pulled all the way through the pole section thus threading the elastic

Disgorger- device for removing a hook from the mouth of fish or deeply embedded in the throat of fish

Double-tapered fly line-a fly line that is thicker on both ends and thinner in the middle. Double-tapered fly lines can be switched around as one end becomes worn.

Dorsal fin- the fin located on the back of fishes, and in front of the adipose fin, if such is present

Downrigger- a device fitted to a boat that uses a cable and a heavy weight to troll baits and lines at a set depthDrag- a device inside the reel, like a brake that puts pressure on the line being pulled from the reel

Dragonfly- a large predatory aquatic insect that usually matures in ponds and lakes

Drift fishing- fishing and drifting along with the wind and tide

Drogue- device dragged behind a boat to reduce speed, such as a bucket with the bottom cut out

Drop back- slackening of the main line indicating the fish has picked up the bait and moved towards the angler.

Dropfly- an artificial fly attached to a leader in angling

Drop-Off- a sudden increase in depth of the water.

Dropper- the secondary fly tied on the leader somewhere between the lead fly and the fly line: also, in coarse fishing, small shot (weight placed near the hook when float fishing)

Drop Shot Fishing- a technique of fishing, similar to spinning and jigging with a lure or baited hook, predominantly for Perch. seeDrop Shot Fishing

Dry fly- an artificial fly used to float on the water and to imitate an adult insect on the surface of the water

Dun- a stage of life in a mayflys lifecycle

Ebb tide-the outgoing or falling tide

Eddy- a section of moving water usually moving around an object under the water

Electrofishing- fishing by stunning fish with electric shock. As used when checking waters for fish count

Embryo- the early stages of development before an organism becomes self supporting

End tackle- the hook and lead used at the end of the main fishing line

Estuary- sheltered water, often with grass bottom or grassy shorelines, where juvenile fish have shelter, food and a chance to grow

Eyed- a hook with an enclosed loop on the shank for tying the line to

False cast-casting the fly line forward and back in the air as a means to lengthen the amount of line that extends out from the rod, to dry the fly or to modify the path of the line. In a false cast, the fly is not allowed to drop onto the water.

Fathom- measurement of water depth. Six feet of depth. Many nautical charts are marked in fathoms, not feet

Feather the line- term used for – after casting the angler slows down the spool of the reel with a finger to stop the line spilling from the reels spool too fast and getting tangled up

Feeder- this is a cylindrical container of various sizes for holding groundbait or free offerings of hook baits. They can be block end for holding loose offerings such as maggots or open end used for groundbait or cage feeder made from a mesh material used for groundbait.

Feeder rod- this is made for casting feeders which can be fairly heavy when filled with groundbait. These rods are generally from 9ft to 12 ft and made stronger and more stiffer than float rods.

Feeding on the top- this is a term used when fish are feeding on baits presented on top of the water – floating baits such as bread

Ferrule , ferrules- the end connections between multi-piece rod pieces. One is solid the other is hollow and the solid end fits inside the hollow end

Fibreglass- material used to make rods. Glass makes the rod less sensitive and more flexible, and reduces the chance of pulling a bait from a fishs mouth

Fin- the external membranous projecting part of a fish used in propelling or guiding the body.

Fingerling- a young fish in its first or second year of life

Fish- a creature that lives in water and has fins and gills. If you dont know what this is maybe you should learn before going fishing:)

Fish On- a hooked fish, shouted in a match when time is up, allowing for a period of time to land it

Fisherman / Fisherwoman- a man / woman who fishes as an occupation or for pleasure

Fishfinder / sonar- electronic devise usually used on board a boat to detect fish or objects under the water