Glossary of Fishing Terms

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Part of the cast in which the fishing rod is moved from a position in front to one in back of the angler; commonly used in fly-fishing.

A method of turning the reel handle in reverse to allow a fish to take line without using drag. Commonly used with spinning reels and casting reels that feature an anti-reverse on/off switch.

A method of turning the reel handle in reverse to allow a fish to take line without using drag. Commonly used with spinning reels and casting reels that feature an anti-reverse on/off switch.

Any type of line used to partially fill the reel before the main fishing line is added; commonly used in fly-fishing.

backing down
Moving a large boat rapidly in reverse to stay in position when fighting offshore game fish.

An overrun of a revolving-spool reel, which in turn causes the line to billow off the reel and tangle. See anti-backlash.

A specific method of boat control that runs the boat stern-first to make a series of maneuvers in the presentation of a trailing lure or bait.

Rough water resulting from boat wakes rebounding off fixed objects such as a seawall, anchored boat, jump ramp, etc.

Water held or pushed back by, or as if by, a dam or current.

backwater pool
Pool, separated from a channel and created by an obstruction such as a bar, root wad or boulder; a body of water controlled by some downstream channel feature; a cove or flooded depression with access to the main stream.

Anything natural or prepared used to catch fish, such as live bait, cut bait, prepared bait, stripbait, etc. Not lures, which are manufactured, although use is permissible in descriptive terms such as crankbait, spinnerbait, etc.

bait angler
One who fishes with live, dead or prepared bait.

Originally named for the revolving-spool 3 used specifically to cast bait in the days (mid-1800s) before lures were developed for casting. Today, any revolving-spool 3 or the act of casting with such 3, regardless of the bait or lure used.

Any small fish used for bait.

A method of fishing using any form of baitfish: He used a special bait-fishing bottom rig to take the trophy.

baitholder hook
A special hook that, in addition to the barb at the end of the point, has one or more barbs on the shank of the hook to help hold bait in place.

A type of rig that uses a special long sinker on a wire designed to slide over the bottom and not snag.

A special well in a boat to hold bait, commonly found in saltwater boats. (Avoid the redundant live baitwell. The correct term is livewell. See livewell.

1. A species of Atlantic Ocean halfbeak with a longer lower jaw than upper jaw. Commonly rigged and used for bait. 2. A slang term often referring to any of the species of halfbeaks used for offshore trolling bait or the lures (often soft plastichat) imitate these pelagic fish.

bank fishing
A method of fishing by casting from an area on a bank of water.

A sharp projection on a fishing hook to hold a hooked fish.

A slender, fleshy “whisker” on the lip, jaw or elsewhere on the head of some fishes; contains sensory cells, including taste.

A hook manufactured without a barb, or one made by cutting off, filing off or depressing the barb. Style of hook recommended for catch-and-release fishing.

A regional name for yellow bass.

An instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure.

A voracious saltwater fish found in both the Atlantic and Pacific. ’Cuda or ’cudas is acceptable on second reference, but avoid excessive usage.

A native Australian saltwater coastal fish (lungfish) closely related to snook.

A common reference for a number of freshwater and saltwater species sought as game fish. The largemouth and smallmouth bass are members of the sunfish family, although this reference would not be made unless appropriate. Sunfish members correctly called bass include Roanoke, shadow, Ozark, rock, redeye, smallmouth, Suwannee, spotted, largemouth and Guadalupe bass. True bass include Atlantic and Pacific saltwater species, of which more than 30 exist, along with related members of grouper and other species. Striped bass, white perch, white bass and yellow bass are members of the temperate bass family Percichthyidae.

Describes fish on a spawning redd: There are some bedding fish.

bed-load sediment
That part of a stream’s total sediment load moved along the bottom by running water.

bell sinker
A bell-shaped fishing weight.

Stowage or living space beneath a boat’s deck. Either belowdecks or below deck is correct, not belowdeck.

Any of a number of worldwide species of big-game fish principally taken while offshore trolling, such as sailfish, black marlin, blue marlin, striped marlin, white marlin, longbill spearfish and shortbill spearfish. See marlin and spearfish.

Bimini knot
A specific knot used with light-3 and big-game angling because of its 100-percent knot strength.

Bimini start
The process of starting a fishing tournament by having all the boats line up side by side at a given spot then, at a prescribed signal, having all 6 race to their desired fishing spots. See shotgun start.

biological diversity
The variety of life and its processes, including the variety in genes, species, ecosystems and the ecological processes. Also biodiversity.

bird's nest
A tangle in a fishing line inside a reel.

black bass
Includes redeye, smallmouth, Suwannee, spotted, largemouth and Guadalupe bass.

black grub
Black spots on the skin of fishes caused by larval stages of trematodes. Synonym: black-spot disease.

blackfin tuna
One of several species of tuna. See tuna.

Regional name for tautog; also may refer to orca in the Pacific Northwest. See tautog.

A species of rockfish.

blackmouth salmon
A colloquial term for immature chinook salmon.

Casting to no specific target.

A northern coastal flats saltwater worm used whole or in pieces for saltwater fishing.

A severe wind storm that blows over trees and structures. The toppled trees also are called the blowdown.

bluefin tuna
One of several species of tuna. See tuna.

A species of saltwater game fish. Blue(s) is acceptable on second reference. See game fish.

A small species of sunfish. Not synonymous with sunfish or panfish. See sunfish.

blue-slime disease
A skin condition of fish associated with a deficiency of biotin in the diet. See blue slime.

A float attached to the line under which a hook and sometimes a sinker hang. The bobber holds the bait or lure at a predetermined depth and also signals the strike of a fish.

A device that holds a spool of thread; used in fly-tying.

Boldt Decision
A U.S. District Court decision awarding 50 percent of all anadromous fisheries in Washington state to Indian tribal fishing.

Species of shallow-water tropical fish highly prized by light-3 anglers and fly-fishers.

A member of the Scombridae family including both Atlantic and Pacific species such as the Pacific, striped and Atlantic bonitos.

Fish having a bony skeleton; all fish except sharks, rays, skates, hagfish and lampreys.

bottom bumper
Any lure that bounces along or comes in contact with the bottom.

bottom feeder
A fish, crayfish, turtle or other animal that scavenges for food. Used for fish that typically feed on the bottom and not species that happen to take bait on the bottom.

Species of large, toothed freshwater fish found in the South, Midwest and Great Lakes region; also commonly called dogfish, grinnel or mudfish. See dogfish.

Usually a bass-fishing term denoting an underwater ledge in which shallow water drops off rapidly into deep water.

A fish lost when the line breaks, as opposed to losing fish when the hook breaks, straightens or pulls out.

A smallmouth bass.

A large fish capable of breeding.

Adult fish retained by hatcheries for spawning.

brook trout
Native char of eastern North America, widely distributed in cold lakes and flowing waters. Also found in western states and South America as a result of stocking. See trout, char.

A brook trout.

brown trout
A common trout native to Europe but introduced into many parts of the world.

Either a smallmouth bass (commonly a brown color in some parts of the country) or a brown trout. Acceptable on second reference for the species (brown trout or smallmouth bass).

Common skirt material used to enhance the fish-attracting appearance of in-line spinners, spinnerbaits and jigs. Bucktail streamers also are used by fly-fishers. See leadhead.

bumping board
A special L-shaped board on which a bass is placed for accurate measurement in tournament fishing.

A mossbunker or menhaden fish used for bait or chum.

A round or spherical navigational marker.

A freshwater fish of the cod family, Gadidae. Also called eelpout and lawyers.

A small saltwater fish.

A leadhead lure with a rotating propeller, usually used on the surface of the water in bass fishing. See leadhead.

The catch of species other than the one(s) targeted. Typically applies to unwanted, discarded catch of commercial fishermen, whether using trammel nets, gill nets, long lines or trawls. See bykill.