Fishing Glossary A

A.C. Plug – A brand name of a large trout-imitating, jointed topwater lure made of wood.

acidity – The degree of sourness of a usually water soluble substance. Acidity is measured in pH, with 7 being neutral and 2 being a strong acid.

action – Measure of rod performance ranging from slow to fast and describes the elapse time from when the rod is flexed to when it returns to its straight configuration. Also refers to the strength of the rod, light, medium and heavy, with light being a limber rod and heavy a stout rod.

active fish – Fish that are feeding heavily and striking aggressively.

adipose fin – On some species, the fatty fin located between the dorsal and tail fin.

air bladder – A gas-filled sac in the upper part of the body cavity of many bony fishes. It is located just beneath the vertebral column; its principal function is to offset the weight of the heavier tissue such as bone.

algae – Simple plant organism (typically a single cell) commonly found in water.

alkalinity – Measure of the amount of acid neutralizing bases.

amur – A member of the carp family found in China’s Amur River. Commonly called a white amur or grass carp. These fish are highly effective weed eaters and are stocked to control nuisance weeds and algae. They can weigh up to 47 pounds.

anal fin – The unpaired fin that lies along the midline of the body beneath the anus, usually on the back half of the fish.

anchovy or anchovies – A species of  4- to 8-inch baitfish found in the ocean that is also a popular bait used for striped bass at places like Lake Powell, Lake Mead, Lake Mohave and Lake Pleasant but can be used for catfish as well.

angler – Person using a fishing pole or rod and reel to catch fish.

angleworm – Any live earthworm placed on a fishing hook.

angling – Usually refers to the recreational catching of fish (sport-fishing) by hook and line.

anti-reverse – System that prevents reels (typically bait casters) from spinning in reverse and causing tangles.

Apache trout – One of Arizona’s two native trout species. Body color is yellowish-gold, with dark, bold spots on dorsal and tail fin, and sparse body spotting that may extend below the lateral line. Purebred Apache trout are only found in the White Mountains of east-central Arizona. Although they are listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, it is legal to fish for them in certain prescribed waters.

artificial lures and flies – Means man-made devices intended as visual attractants for fish and does not include living or dead organisms or edible parts thereof, natural or prepared food stuffs, artificial salmon eggs, artificial corn, or artificial marshmallows.

attractant – Liquid, solid or power form of scent applied to fishing lures for increased productivity.

Fishing Glossary B

back cast (n.) or back-cast (v.) – Part of the cast in which the fishing rod (usually a fly rod) and the fishing line is moved from a position in front to one in back of the angler. There can be successive back casts as line is played out to increase the distance and accuracy of the cast.

backing – Any type of line used to partially fill a reel before the main fishing line is added; commonly used in fly-fishing or by bass anglers who use many of the newer thread-like or polymer lines.

backlash – An overrun of a revolving-spool reel, such as a bait-cast reel, which in turn causes the line to billow off the reel and tangle.

back-trolling – A method of boat control utilizing a motor to make a series of maneuvers in the presentation of a lure or bait. The most common back-troll method is using a front-mounted trolling motor to make the boat go backwards, while dragging or trolling the lure in front of the boat. Many back-troll methods, such as fishing for suspended crappies in winter or summer, involve a slow stop-and-go technique.

back-wash – Rough water resulting from boat wakes rebounding off fixed objects such as canyon walls, docks or anchored boats.

backwater – Shallow area of a river that is sometimes isolated, often being located behind a sand bar or other obstruction in the river. Large backwaters tat are isolated may be referred to as oxbows.

bag limit – Restriction in the number of fish an angler may retain, generally on a daily basis.

bail – Metal, semi-circular arm of an open-face spinning reel that engages the line after a cast.

bait – Can mean live bait or artificial bait, such as a lure.

baitcasting – Fishing with a revolving-spool reel and baitcasting rod, with the reel mounted on the topside of the rod.

baitfish – Small fish, such as threadfin shad, that are often eaten by predatory fish, such as largemouth bass. This can refer to the fish that predators feed upon, or the kids of fish we place on a hook to catch a sport-fish. The use of bait fish is often regulated, so be sure to check the latest fishing regulations.

baitwell – A special well or livewell in a boat to hold bait.

bank-fishing, bank-fish – A method of fishing by casting from an area on a bank of water.

bass – A common reference for a number of freshwater and saltwater species sought as game fish. The largemouth and smallmouth bass are actually members of the sunfish family, although they are commonly referred to as bass. Striped bass, white bass, and yellow bass are all members of the perch family and are often referred to as true bass family.

Bass Assassin – A brand of soft-plastic jerkbait.

bass boat – A design of shallow-drafting boat developed for modern, competitive bass fishing.

bar – Long, shallow ridge in a body of water.

barb – A sharp projection on a fishing hook that holds a hooked fish.

barbless – A hook manufactured without a barb, or one made barbless by cutting it off, filing it off or flattening the barb (typically with pliers).

bay – Major indentation in the shoreline of a lake or reservoir.

bead-headed midges – A type of fly used for fly-fishing.

bedding – In fishing, this term refers to bedding fish during the spawning period.

bell sinker – A bell-shaped fishing weight.

Belly Boat – A trademark for a brand of rubber inner tube boat used for fishing in quiet water.

benthic – Occurring at or near the bottom of a body of water.

biology – The study of living things.

bite – When a fish takes or touches a bait so that the fisherman feels it.

bite indicator ­­– A device which activates or signals when a fish is on the line. It can be as simple as a bell placed on the line between two fishing pole guides that rings when a fish either nibbles or takes the bait. There are commercially made bite indicators as well. Bite indicators are often used by those bottom-fishing for catfish and carp.

biomass – The aggregate amount of living matter or a specific species within a specific habitat, or the total number of a specific species in a specific habitat.

black bass – Common term used to describe several types of bass of the sunfish family, including the largemouth and smallmouth bass.

blind cast – Casting at no particular target.

bluebird skies – A term used to describe bright, sunny, blue sky conditions that often make catching fish tough.

bluegill or bluegills – A common species of sunfish. Not synonymous with sunfish or panfish.

bobber – 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 (strike indicator). A variation is called a slip-bobber or slip-float, where the line runs freely through the bobber and there is a stop on the line for the predetermined depth.

bottom feeder or bottom-fish – A bottom-feeding fish, such as a catfish or carp. Refers to a fish that feeds predominantly on the bottom, not just one that is sometimes caught on the bottom, such as a largemouth bass or trout.

bow-fishing – Using a bow and arrow, typically with a reel attached to the bow, to harvest fish.

Bomber Long “A” – A brand name of crankbait.

bucketmouth – A slang term for largemouth bass, aka bigmouth bass.

brackish – Water of intermediate salinity between seawater and freshwater.

break – Distinct variation in otherwise constant stretches of cover, structure, or bottom type. Basically anything that “breaks up” the underwater terrain.

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

broodfish – A large sexually mature fish capable of breeding. In hatcheries, these are the large egg-producing fish.

brookie, brookies, brook trout – A species of trout stocked in selected waters in Arizona’s high country (they are not native to the state).

brownie – Term can refer to a smallmouth bass or a brown trout.

brown trout – A nonnative species of trout stocked in some of Arizona’s high elevation trout waters. Sometimes referred to as a German brown.

brushline – The inside or the outside edge of a stretch of brush.

brush pile – Usually refers to a mass of small- to medium-sized tree limbs lying in the water. Brush piles may be only one of two feet across, or they may be extremely large; they may be visible or submerged. They can be created by Mother Nature or be man made. They typically attract fish, and fishermen.

buffalofish – A heavy bodied carp-like fish that can weigh up to 39 pounds that are found in some of the Salt River chain of lakes.

bumping – Refers to the act of making a lure hit an object, such as a log, tree or rock, in a controlled manner (either intentionally or unintentionally), which can get the attention of a fish and result in a strike.

bullet sinker – A cone-shaped piece of lead, zinc or steel of varying weights that slides up and down the line.

buzzbait – Top-water bait with large, propeller-type blades that churn the water during a retrieve. Usually comprised of a leadhead, a rigid hook and a wire that supports one of more blades. Typically has a plastic skirt like a spinnerbait.

buzzing – Retrieving a spinnerbait or buzzbait along the water’s surface to create a splash effect to resemble a wounded baitfish.

Fishing Glossary C

caddis fly – an aquatic insect of major importance, along with the mayfly and stonefly, for the trout fly-fisherman. A caddis fly is characterized by swept-back wings; also an insect that goes through a complete metamorphosis much like a butterfly. A caddis worm is the larva of a caddis fly.

California rig or California-rigged – A method of deep-water fishing in which a plastic worm is placed at the end of a leader trailing behind a sinker.

cane pole – A pole of natural cane, often made from Calcutta or Tonkin bamboo, used for fishing. No reel is used; the line is tied to the pole. Extremely effective for fishing small, narrow streams or creeks. Those fishing with such a rig are said to be cane-poling.

cartop or cartopper – Refers to a boat small enough to be carried on the top of a car and hand-launched, especially at fisheries with limited or no boat launching facilities.

Carolina rig or Carolina-rigged – A special rig in which an exposed or hidden hook is used with a soft plastic lure placed 2 to 3 feet behind an egg or barrel sinker and swivel. Used primarily for deep fishing with heavier weights than a Texas rig. This rig is most commonly used with a plastic worm or lizard, but can be used with floating crankbaits and other lures.

A variation on this theme is using a lighter, spinning outfit with a split shot placed on the line 12 to 30 inches above the hook, with a small worm or lizard (4 to 6 inches) rigged Texas style. This style can be used in shallow or deep water, and is especially good for use in the clear, Western reservoirs, or when it is appropriate to down-size, such as in winter.

carp – A member of the minnow family, introduced to the United States in the late 1800s. Typically refers to common carp originally from Europe and not grass carp (amur), which are from Asia.

catch-and-release – Refers to catching a fish and immediately releasing it. Many anglers practice catch-and-release as a way to help conserve the resource. In some waters, such as certain small trout streams, the state fishing regulations actually require anglers to catch-and-release.

catfish – A term for any of the many species of catfish, including black, blue, flathead, channel and yellow species. Fishing for catfish can be called catfishing and a person who fishes for catfish is a catfisherman (both one word).

channel – The bed of a stream or river. This can also refer to a submerged stream or river channel in a reservoir.

chugger – Topwater plug with a dished-out, concave or cupped head designed to make a splash when pulled sharply. The act of systematically working the lure across the surface is called “chugging.”

chum – To throw chum (typically cut up pieces of bait fish or other bait) overboard to attract fish. A chum line is the trail of bait or scent in the water that attracts game fish.

clarity – Refers to the depth you are able to see an object, such as your lure, under the water.

clearwater – Describes a lake or stream with good visibility.

cold front – A weather condition accompanied by high, clear skies, and a sudden drop in temperature.

coldwater fishery – Refers to waters typically in the higher elevations that can be predominately trout fisheries.

cosmic clock – The sun’s seasonal effect on water and weather conditions relating to barometric pressure, wind, and cloud cover.

cove – An indentation along a shoreline. A very small indentation a few feet or so across is often referred to as a “pocket cove.”

cover – Natural or manmade objects on the bottom of lakes, rivers, or impoundments, especially those that influence fish behavior. Examples include stick-ups, tree lines, stumps, rocks, logs, pilings, docks, and weed patches.

cowbells – A flashing, multi-bladed lure that resembles a small school of bait fish that is commonly used to troll for trout.

crankbait – Any of a wide number of hard plastic or wooden lures that dive when retrieved (cranked with a reel) through the water. Crank or cranks are slang terms for these baits.

crappie or crappies – Two species, white and black, are popular game fish. In Arizona, white crappies are only found in Lake Pleasant.

crayfish or crawfish – A small crustacean found in freshwater. Crayfish are not native to Arizona. Also called crawdads.

creel limit – The daily number of fish an angler can keep in possession as set by state regulations. Can vary from water to water, so be sure to check the fishing regulations.

Crickhopper – A brand of plastic lure resembling a grasshopper commonly used for trout and sometimes, for smallmouth bass.

culling – A method of removing and releasing lighter-weight fish from a livewell so the heaviest or tournament limit is retained.

Curly Tail – A trademark for a brand of curved-tail soft-plastic lures.

curly-tailed grub – A curved-tail soft plastic bait often fitted on a jighead.

cutthroat trout or cutthroat – A species of salmonid characterized by a red or orange slash under the throat. They are stocked in Big Lake in the White Mountains and are not native to Arizona. Also called “cutts.”

Fishing Glossary D

dabbing – Working a lure up and down in the same spot a dozen or more times in a bush, or beside a tree or other structure.

damselfly – A small member of the dragonfly family.

dapping – A method of fly-fishing in which the fly is allowed to skip or dance on the water while line and leader are held above the water from a high rod.

Dardevle – A trademark for a brand of spoons typically used for trout and northern pike fishing.

deadfall – A tree that has fallen into the water.

deer-hair bug – A floating fly-rodding lure made from hollow deer hair and used principally for bass and panfish.

depthfinder, depth recorder, or depth sounder – A sonar device used to read the bottom structure, determine depth, and in some cases actually locate fish. Also called a fishfinder.

Devle Dog – A trademark for a brand of fishing lure.

desert sucker – A native Arizona fish typically found in rivers and streams that can weigh over four pounds.

die-off – Refers to having many fish die at the same time, quite often baitfish; also referred to as a fish kill.

dillys – A type of small earthworm popular for catching sunfish and trout.

dink – A small bass, usually under 6 to 8 inches long (also called a subcatchable).

dip bait – A smelly paste-type bait primarily used for catfish.

dip net – A net with a handle used to capture baitfish.

disgorger – Device for removing hooks deeply embedded in the throat of fish.

dissolved oxygen – The amount of free (usable) oxygen in water. Usually designated in parts per million.

dobsonfly – A large aquatic insect, the larva of which is the popular hellgrammite bait.

doll Fly – A trademark for a brand of chenille-bodied, hackle-wrapped jig.

doodlesock or doodlesocking – A method of cane-pole or long-pole fishing in which a lure or bait is repeatedly dipped and dragged through likely fish structures. Used in largemouth bass and crappie fishing. Very effective when fish are holding tight to cover.

dorsal fin – A median fin located along the back of a fish. It is usually supported by rays, which sometimes gives the fin a fan- or sail-like appearance. There may be two or more dorsal fins.

doughball – A ball of bait made from bread or specially prepared dough used for bait-fishing. Commonly used for carp.

downlake, downriver, downshore, and downstream, downcurrent – All terms referring to directions.

drag – Device on fishing reels that allows line to pay out under pressure, even though the reel is engaged; set correctly, it ensures against line breakage.

drawdown – Lowering a lake level for a specific purpose.

drift-boating, drift-fishing – Techniques used to fish by drifting with the current, sometimes in a drift boat.

drop-off – A sudden increase in depth, often created by washes, small creek channels, canyons, pinnacles, and other submerged topographic features.

drop shot – A tackle rigging technique employing a hook tied to the line from four-inches to four-feet above the sinker. The hook is attached using a Palomar knot and the weight is attached to the tag line from the knot. The hook is set at a 90-degree angle to the line, typically with the hook point pointing upward toward the pole. Typical drop shot baits are small, usually 4-inches or less.

dry fly – A fly which floats on the surface of the water by means of hackle (feather) fibers. An angler employing this technique is said to be dry-fly fishing.

Fishing Glossary E

earthworm – A common term for any of the many different fishing worms, including night crawlers (two words), garden worms, leaf worms, dillys, and red wigglers.

edge – The borders created by a change in the structure or vegetation in a lake. Examples are edges of tree lines, weed lines, and the edges of a drop-off.

egg sinker – An egg-shaped fishing weight with a hole through the center for the line to pass through.

electro-fishing, electro-fish, electro-shocking – A term used to describe using electrical current to temporarily stun fish, typically during fish surveys.

eutrophic – Highly fertile waters characterized by warm, nutrient-rich shallow basins.

eyelets – The eyelets are the line guides or rings on a fishing rod through which line is passed.

Fishing Glossary F

false-casting, false-cast – Fly-casting line in the air (not touching the water) to increase length of line and perfect accuracy to the target.

fan cast – Making a series of casts only a few degrees apart to cover a half circle (more or less). Often used to locate actively feeding fish.

feeding times – Certain times of day when fish are most active. These are often associated with the position of the sun and moon and are referred to as solunar tables.

filamentous algae – Type of algae characterized by long chains of attached cells that give it a stringy feel and appearance.

fillet – A method of using a sharp knife to separate the meaty portion of the fish from the bones and skeleton and/or skin for human consumption.

finesse fishing – An angling technique characterized by the use of light tackle – line, rods, reels and artificial baits. It is often productive in clear, fairly uncluttered water, like many of our western impoundments.

fingerling – A young fish about a finger long, usually 2 inches or so in length.

fisherman – One who engages in fishing for sport or occupation, or for food.

fishery – A term used for a lake, river or stream where people can catch fish, or even a particular kind of fish, such as a bass or trout fishery.

fishhook – A barbed or barbless hook used for catching fish. For fish hook sizes, always use numerals: No. 2, No. 4 etc.

flat – In fishing, a shallow section of water where game fish feed or spawn.

flipping – A method of fishing by which the lure is swung, not cast, to the target or structure, often with as little disturbance of the water as possible. This technique is often used for placing baits strategically in thick cover, such as bushes, trees and stick-ups.

flipping stick – Heavy action fishing rod (usually a baitcasting rod and reel), 7 to 8 feet long, designed for bass fishing using the flipping and or pitching techniques.

Florida rig – Very similar to the Texas rig, the only difference is the weight is secured by “screwing” it into the bait.

float tube – A special fishing tube in which an inner tube is covered by a casing fitted with a seat to allow an angler to float free.

floating or float fishing – To traverse a river, stream or lake by some type of watercraft while fishing, most commonly in a tube, raft, canoe, or kayak.

flutterbait ­– Any type of bait that is cast and then allowed to “flutter” down, resembles a dying bait fish. Typically used in bass fishing.

fly, flies – A natural insect used by fish as food or an imitation of a natural insect used by fly-anglers.

fly-casting, fly-cast – A method for a fly-fishermen to cast flies to fish or to spots likely to hold fish.

fly line, fly-line (adj.) – A line specifically designed to be used with fly-fishing tackle and a fly rod, the act of which would be termed fly-rodding.

foul-hook – To hook a fish other than in the mouth where it should take a bait or lure.

forage – Small baitfish, crayfish and other creatures that bass or other predator fish eat. Term may also be used in the sense of bass actively looking for food (foraging).

free spool, or free-spool (v.) – A reel that allows line to feed freely to the fish or current, or the method of feeding line without drag or resistance to fish or current.

freshwater – A term referring to bodies of water that do not have salt.

front – Weather system that causes changes in temperature, cloud cover, precipitation, wind and barometric pressure.

fry – Immature fish from the time they hatch to the time they become fingerlings.

Fishing Glossary G

Gamakatsu – A brand name of hooks.

game fish or game-fish (adj.) Species of fish caught for sport that fights hard when hooked. In Arizona, includes trout of all species, bass of all species, catfish of all species, sunfish of all species, northern pike, walleye and yellow perch. Legal game fish are defined in statute. There are more fish sought for sport than are listed as game fish.

gear – Any tools used to catch fish, such as rod and reel, hook and line, nets, traps, spears and baits.

Gila trout – One of Arizona’s two native trout species. Gila trout had been extirpated (eliminated) from Arizona, but were reintroduced in the mid 1990s. They are listed as federally endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

gill – Respiratory organ of many aquatic animals, such as fish.

gill opening – an opening behind the head that connects the gill chamber to the exterior.

gill net, gill-net (v.) – A commercial (not sport-fishing) net used to harvest fish. So named because of the mesh sizes designed to catch the intended species by the gill. Commonly used by biologists when conducting fish surveys.

Gizit – A brand name of tube bait (the original).

grayline – The grayline on a fish finder lets you distinguish between strong and weak echoes. For instance, a soft, muddy or weedy bottom returns a weaker symbol, which is shown with a narrow or no gray line. A hard bottom returns a strong signal, which causes a wide and dark grayline.

grayling – A northern species of freshwater game fish; a member of the trout family. In Arizona, typically found at Lee Valley Lake in the White Mountains.

grub – A short, plastic type of worm, usually rigged with a weighed jig hook.

Fishing Glossary H

habitat – The natural environment where people, animals and plants live. In an aquatic environment, it includes the water, topography, structure and cover present in a lake.

handline – A fishing line used without a rod or reel; a line held in the hand.

hard bottom – Usually a type of bottom that you would not sink far, if at all, were you to walk on it and can consist of clay, gravel, rock or sand.

hawg – A slang term describing a large lunker-size or heavyweight bass weighing 4 pounds or more.

hellgramite — The larvae of the dobsonfly.

holding area – Structure that habitually attracts and holds bass.

holding station – Place on a lake where inactive fish spend most of their time.

honey hole – A slang term describing a specific hole, spot, or area containing big fish or lots of catchable fish.

Hopkins spoons – A brand name of spoon with a hammered appearance.

hump – An underwater island that generally rises gradually. Humps can often hold fish.

hydrology – The science dealing with the distribution, properties and circulation of water on land, in the soil, and in the atmosphere.

Fishing Glossary I

ichthyology – The science or study of fish.

IGFA – The International Game Fish Association.

inactive fish – Fish that are not in a feeding mood, sometimes referred to as having “lockjaw.” Examples of inactive times can be following a cold front, during a major weather change that causes a sudden rise or fall in the barometer.

in-line spinner – A spinner where the hook is on the same shaft, or line, as the spinner, such as a Mepps, Rooster Tail, Panther Martin or Vibrex spinner.

inside bend – The inside line of a grass bed or a creek channel.

isolated structure – A possible holding spot for fish, especially bass. Examples include a single submerged bush or rock pile on a point, a mid-lake hump, or a large tree that has fallen into the water.

Fishing Glossary J

jerkbait – A type of soft-plastic or hard-plastic bait resembling a bait fish that is typically fished in a series of quick jerks or is “ripped” to resemble a darting baitfish.

jig – A hook with a leadhead that is usually dressed with hair, silicone, plastic or bait.

jigging spoon – Refers to a spoon that is typically “jigged” or bounced off the bottom with a slight up-and-down motion of the rod or rod tip so the spoon resembles a dying shad or other baitfish.

jig-and-pig or jig-n-pig – Combination of a leadhead jig fitted with a pork trailer. Popular for flippin’ and pitchin’ fish-holding structure, such as submerged bushes and trees.

jig-fishing, jig-fish (v.) – The practice of using a jig to catch fish.

johnboat – A small flat-bottomed, square-fronted, shallow-draft boat that is popular with duck hunters and many anglers alike.