Glossary of Fishing Terms

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s curve
Fly-fishing term, describing slack cast into the leader to create a drag-free float.

Common nickname in Louisiana for crappie.

A family of large, colorful freshwater and anadromous fish that includes salmon, trout, whitefishes, graylings and chars. Widely distributed in waters of the arctic and north temperate zones of the Northern Hemisphere; found in many fresh and salt waters of northern North America, Europe, Asia and New Zealand. Of great economic importance, supporting sport fisheries and commercial fisheries.

sand spike
Accessory driven into the sand and used to hold a rod while surf-fishing.

A 1, closely related but a separate species to the walleye.

A hybrid created by breeding a sauger and a walleye.

A common name for gar.

A young cod or haddock, freshly caught. The term is more often used in restaurants and fish markets than among anglers.

An oar used at the stern of a boat.

Using a sculling oar to row a boat.

sea bass
Any of dozens of the sea bass family, including grouper and some perch. Most are Atlantic species.

sea bream
A member of the porgy family.

sea trout
Common term for several species of freshwater trout that have access to the sea and run into the open ocean. Often, rainbow trout, brook trout and brown trout do this when located in coastal areas.

A general term for several species of seaperches (along with surfperches in the surfperch family

A family of about a dozen species; often caught but seldom sought by surf anglers. Also known as blowfish.

sea-run trout
Freshwater trout that spend part of their lives in the sea, including rainbow (commonly called steelhead, cutthroat, brown and occasionally brook.

Several species of a true saltwater coastal fish, members of the drum family, which include seatrout, silver seatrout, spotted seatrout and weakfish (often called grey seatrout). See spotted seatrout and weakfish.

An anchor/anchor-line connection.

A baitfish and a game-1. American and hickory shad are coastal game species; gizzard, threadfin and others are forage fish and bait1.

shadow bass
One of several species of sunfish such as rock bass and Ozark bass.

shark, sharks
Includes many species sought by saltwater anglers; for example, mako, dusky, tiger, thresher, blacktip, whitetip, lemon and blue.

shear pin
A pin that runs through the shaft and hub of an outboard engine propeller; designed to break under shock pressure to prevent breakage of the prop or damage to the engine.

Freshwater game fish of the Far North. Its proper name is inconnu.

A member of the wrasse family, which includes wrasse, hogfish, razor fish and others. California sheephead is a different species from sheepshead and is found only on the Pacific Coast.

A member of the Porgy genus, which includes sea bream and pinfish, found in fresh water (in the Great Lakes and inland lakes) and along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

A member of the shiner group often used for bait.

shooting line
In fly-casting, letting the energy of a forward cast pull slack line, thus increasing its distance.

Casting from the shore, as opposed to casting from a boat.

Fishing from shore, as opposed to fishing from a boat or by wading.

The technique of casting and fishing when the fish are spotted first.

A type of hook, usually with a uniform, perfect bend, extra strong wire, long point, large gap and open eye for closing onto a lure.

A steelhead strain developed in a hatchery in Skamania, Wash. See steelhead.

Trolling bait that skips on the surface. Usually a live or prepared natural bait.

A skipjack herring or skipjack tuna. A common species of tuna and a term used in some areas for bluefish. Skipjack is acceptable on second reference.

A method of using small lures and casting them hard and at a low angle to the water.

Any larger-than-usual flat-sided fish, particularly crappie. 2. A term used in British Columbia and Alaska for chinook salmon weighing 40 to 50 or more pounds. 3. A heavy fillet of fish.

slack water
Water that is not moving; a period at the turn of the tide when there is little or no horizontal motion of the tidal water; also called slack tide.

slime stick
Colloquial term for Pacific barracuda, which carries a heavy coating of mucous.

A cork (bobber or float) that is rigged to slide along the line, stopped by a tiny stop or bead.

A knot that deliberately slips under pressure; usually a loop knot.

A sinker designed to slip on the line.

A method of striking a fish with a fly rod in which the line is allowed to slide through the guides (slip) as the rod is pulled to one side to set the hook.

A fishing size limit where the angler may keep fish larger than a minimum length but smaller than an upper limit length.

Shallow backwater or slack water, usually part of a swamp, bog or marsh, but in fishing terms fishable water; often a stream. Pronounced slew.

smallmouth bass
A member of the sunfish family, a popular game fish. Also called smallmouth. See black bass.

Small fishes found in the Pacific, Atlantic and fresh water.

A young salmon at the stage when it leaves fresh water and descends to the ocean.

Jerking an unbaited weighted or unweighted hook through the water to catch fish.

A popular saltwater game fish; member of the snook family.

sockeye salmon
A member of the Salmonidae family, native to the Pacific Coast.

Solunar Tables
Game activity tables, developed by John Alden Knight, that list periods when game and fish are most active based on the positions of the sun and moon.

A deep-bodied coastal fish found in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the Gulf of Mexico; often caught by anglers.

The mass of eggs produced by fish, amphibians, crustaceans, etc. To produce such a mass of eggs.

Two ocean species, one longbill (Atlantic Coast and the other shortbill (Pacific Coast, both members of the billfish family along with marlin and sailfish. 2. To fish with “spears” fired from spring-loaded guns.

speckled hind
One of the several hinds in the sea bass family; a popular tropical reef fish.

speckled trout
A colloquial name for brook trout and spotted seatrout.

To troll (drag a lure behind a boat at a rate of speed higher than usual.

Adult fish that have recently completed spawning.

A casting technique developed on the River Spey, Scotland. Do not confuse with spay.

spider trolling
Trolling with several rods.

spin casting
Sometimes called American spinning or closed-face spinning. Uses a fixed spool enclosed in a nose cone so the line leaving the reel’s nose cone comes out straight.

spin gear
Fixed spool-fishing gear used for spin casting or open-faced spinning 3.

spinner bait
A lure composed of a skirted, painted leadhead with hook from which a protruding top wire holds one or more rotating blades.

spinner fly
A feathered fly trailing a rotating/spinning bait.

spinning reel
A fixed spool reel of two general types: open-faced and closed-face.

split shot
A specialized type of sinker that resembles bird shot, partially split, which allows pinching onto a line.

sponge bait
Used in catching catfish.

spoon jig
A heavy, thick spoon or slab lure that in fresh water is used primarily for vertical jigging. In salt water it is used for surf casting the beach as well as vertical jigging over wrecks and reefs.

A flat, metal spoon-like lure, designed by Buck Perry, with the action of a plug or crankbait.

A structure fishing method using Spoonplugs and other lures.

sport fish
A fish sought by anglers.

A channel bass.

A minnow found in the Great Lakes and inland lakes.

spotted bass
Sometimes called Kentucky bass. See black bass.

spotted seatrout
A species of seatrout; a member with other seatrout and weakfish of the drum family found on the Atlantic Coast. Called a speck in the Chesapeake Bay region. In some areas, the word seatrout means both the spotted seatrout and the weakfish. See seatrout.

spotted sunfish
A freshwater species of sunfish.

spring-run fish
Anadromous fish that return to fresh water in the spring, migrate to spawning areas and spawn during late summer or early autumn.

A type of hook. See fishhook.

Largest member of the minnow group in North America.

A colloquial and common name for weakfish. Also called grey squeteague. Colloquial names for sand seatrout and silver seatrout are sand squeteague and silver squeteague, respectively. See weakfish and seatrout.

The drop lines that hooks are tied to on a trotline.

standing wave
A large wave that seems to stay in one place.

stand-up fishing
Fighting large fish while standing on a deck, often with rod belts/harnesses, but not sitting in a fighting chair.

star drag
A drag originally for big-game fishing reels but now also found on smaller bait-casting reels. Derives its name from the star-shaped drag adjustment control.

The right-hand side of a boat or (opposite of port)

A sea-run or lake-run rainbow trout, common in the Northwest, transplanted to the Great Lakes.

stick bait
A slender plug or topwater lure given action surface by an angler’s manipulation of the rod and reel.

Tips of trees and brush that “stick up” from the water and provide structure, primarily for bass fishing.

still fish
Fishing from one spot; primarily shore-fishing from a permanent location.

stinger hook
An additional hook placed on a lure or bait rig; also called trailer hook.

stink bait
An odoriferous prepared bait.

An aquatic insect important to the diet of trout. (The larvae are aquatic, not the adults).

stream incision
The cutting or eroding away of a stream bank.

A bait that consists of a strip of natural bait. Usually a bait that is cut from the belly of a fish.

striped bass
Species of the bass family, which includes white perch, white bass, yellow bass. Colloquially called rockfish and striper elsewhere in the Chesapeake Bay region.

A fly-fishing technique where line is pulled from a single-action reel, thus “stripped” from the reel.

Any material, plants or change in contour of the bottom of a lake or river providing orientation for fish.

structure spoon
A slab or jigging spoon typically jigged vertically in fresh water.

A family of large fish found in salt water and fresh water. A primitive bottom-feeding fish with a mostly cartilaginous skeleton.

General term for the dozens of species in the sucker family; often used as bait for pike and muskellunge.

Any of dozens of members of the sunfish family, including black bass. Popular sunfishes include rock bass, redbreast, green, pumpkinseed, warmouth, bluegill, longear and redear.

surf casting
Casting from the surf or beach. Often a general term implying surf fishing.

surf clam
Often used for bait by surf anglers.

Sliding one’s white-water boat across the face of a standing wave, similar to the action of a surfboard on an ocean wave.

Collective term for dozens of species of the surfperch family, all native to the Pacific Coast except for freshwater species. Popular bait for surf fishing.

A saltwater species also called broadbill or broadbill swordfish.