Fishing Terms
Fisherman's Terminology
and Crazy Lingo

Are you interested in knowing what certain fishing terms actually mean?

This is the section to find and learn about the meanings of different fishing terminology, words and phrases.

This is like an encyclopedia of fishing lingo - a fisherman's dictionary.

The following list are a few of the most common fishing words and phrases along with their definitions. We will be periodically adding more angling terminology and definitions to the list.

If you happen to notice any fishing phrases that are not on the list, and you would like to see it included, then feel free to let us know. Tell us the word/phrase and your definition of it. If they're legitimate fishing terms, we will gladly add them.

Fishing: A Dictionary for Constant Anglers, Weekend Waders, and Artful Bobbers

Fishing Terms and Definitions


Action - The bend in a fishing rod when it loads up when hooked into fish.

Anadromous Waters - Inland waters, such as rivers and sloughs, that migrate from the ocean which are fishable.

Angler - Another name for Fisherman.

Angling - also see Fishing. To take fish by way of hand, or using a hook with live bait, dead bait, or artificial lures, which is attached to fishing line spooled on a reel and rod.

Artificial Bait - Looks, feels and smells just like live or dead bait, but is manufactured with either man made or natural materials, or a combination of both.

Artificial Lure - Something resembling a fish' food of prey, usually manufactured out of a man made materials to attract fish.


Bangin' - Technique of using a heavy type of jig or similar lure by allowing it to knock and bounce off of rocks along the bottom in the water.

Bait - Whatever kind of food/prey that fish feed on or are willing to try to eat.

Bait Ball - A large group of bait fish swimming tightly together.

Bronzeback - Smallmouth bass

Bucketmouth - Largemouth bass

Bulldoggin' - When a hooked fish tries swimming straight away or down to get away or hide and bury itself in cover without changing directions and jumping out of the water in an attempt to shake loose of the hook, as in just trying to break clean free with brute force.

Burn - or Burnin', means to retrieve a lure quite fast through the water.

Butt - Bottom end of a rod where the hand grip is.


Crankin' - To fish with a crankbait or similar type of lure and simply retrieving it with any variety of winding speeds or a variation of.


Dads - Crawdads, or replicas of. Because they contain a shell with pinchers, they are also referred to as crawfish or crayfish.

Dead Sticking - To cast out a lure or bait and allow it to sit in a desired target zone for a set amount of time before reeling it back. See dead stick fishing for tips and techniques for this finesse tactic.

Drift Fishing - Using the wind and current, or a trolling motor, to drift along the water with your fishing rods set out.


Eddy - A swift swirl of water that forms behind structure in the water, like rocks or wood pilings, due to the natural flow of current.


Fan Casting - Making multiple casts sweeping from one side to another in a circular or semi circular pattern.

Finessin' - Tactic that is often used with a deliberately slow retrieve and/or various rod popping techniques in order to entice sluggish fish to bite. See finesse fishing tips.

Fishing - also see Angling above. To take fish by way of hand, or using a hook with live bait, dead bait, or artificial lures, which is attached to fishing line spooled on a reel and rod.

Fishing Fanatic - A person who has a chronic addiction to the sport of angling. See freshwater fishing fanatic to help determine if you fall into this category of unique fishermen.

Float - Plastic or cork bobber.


Grabbling - Hand fishing, noodling.

Grand Slam - To catch three different species of fish in the same outing.


Hung up - To have your lure or bait caught on something in or out of the water. Sometimes your sinker can also be wedged under water structure like a rock pile.


Ice-Out - Period when warm water and warm weather begin to slush and melt iced over water.

Impoundment - Body of water formed within a section of a river or creek that has been dammed off, such as lakes and reservoirs.

Island - Body of land form within an area of water. Islands are often thought of as being visible above the waters surface, however, there are many islands below the surface which are also referred to as humps.


Jigging - Technique of dropping the rod tip to point downward, then sweeping the tip upward in a fast or slow motion to bring the lure shooting up in a neurotic fashion. By dropping the rod tip back down the lure is often meant to flutter back downward. Repeat.

Jug Fishing - Using a jug such as a milk jug or soda bottle with line tied to it and a baited hook. Set the jug out in the water and wait for it to start bobbing.



Leader - An extension of line containing a hook or lure which is attached to the main line.

Limbline - A line tied to the limb of a tree, with a baited hook tied to the other and set into the water.

Lunker - Term used when classifying an exceptionally large sized fish. Most often stated for a largemouth bass weighing at least 13 pounds, although, many consider a largemouth weighing 10 pounds or more as being a lunker.



Noob - Rookie. Somebody that is new, or fairly new, to the sport or any other activity.

Noodling - Handfishing, fishing bare handed. Most popular for catching catfish, however, other species of fish are also targeted this way too. See catfish noodling to learn more about this crazy technique.


Open Face Reel - A reel without a cover or encasing surrounding the line on the spool, such as a spinning reel.


Pegging - An alternative way other than using a stopper to hold a bullet weight in place on fishing line. This consists of breaking off a tooth pick into the head of the sinker. See our Texas Rigging tips section for a demonstration.

PFD - Personal floating device, life jacket.

Pig - A trailer used behind the hook of a jig or even spinnerbaits sometimes.

Pilons - Structure usually constructed of concrete or wood used to support bridges, piers and docks. Also known as pillars.

Playing Fish - Reeling a fish in as you wear it down in order to properly land it.

Plug - Any type of artificial swimming lure such as crankbaits, jerkbaits, stick baits, poppers, lipless crankbaits, etc.

Poacher - An individual who takes fish or other species of game against what the laws and regulations allow for.

Pork - See Pig above.

Presentation - The business end of your fishing tackle; baited hook or lure.



Riprap - Rocks and boulders that run along the waters edge and shoreline in a continuous and consistent manner.

Run 'n Gun - Moving quickly along the water while making multiple casts and retrieves without spending much time in any one spot. Also moving from one fishing spot to another and to another after just a few casts.


School - A small or large group of fish.

"Set" the Hook - To swing the rod tip in a direction that immediately gathers any slack in the line, forcing the hook to follow and penetrates the fish' mouth.

Sinker - Weight attached to fishing line used to get the bait or lure down in the water.

Slab - A large sized fish, mostly big panfish such as bluegills and crappies are called slabs.

Slow Roll - Technique used by slowly retrieving a lure, most commonly with spinnerbaits.

Smallie - Smallmouth bass

Snag - When a lure or bait is caught or hung up in some type of structure.

Spawn - The reproduction cycle that fish go through - building a nest, laying eggs, and guarding the nest until the eggs hatch.

Stick ups - Old brush or timber that is slightly exposed above the waters surface.

Still fishing -

Strike - When a fish attacks, bites, or attempts to bite it's prey, bait or a lure.

Suspended - When fish are positioned anywhere withing the mid section of water - not on/near the bottom, nor the top of the water column.


Test - The strength at which equipment has been tested to perform at it's maximum before it becomes weak, most often associated with the strength that fishing line has been tested at per pound before reaching a weakening or breaking point.

Trailer - Usually a soft plastic bait added to the back hook at the end of a lure to add to its profile for added attraction for enticing fish, most commonly added to jigs and spinnerbaits.

Trailer Hook - An extra hook added to a lures existing hook. Most often used on buzzbaits and swimbaits when fish are biting just short of the lure.

Treble Hook - A hook with three hook points extended from a single shaft.

Trophy Fish - An exceptionally large fish.

Trotline - A long line that has multiple shorter lines with hooks attached across it.




Walk The Dog - Top water fishing technique using a stickbait that is retrieved in a back and forth sweeping motion across the surface of the water.

Whiskerfish - Catfish



Yo-yoing - Like the jigging technique - using the rod by dropping the tip downward to allow the lure to flutter down, then sweeping the rod tip upward to shoot the lure buck upwards a few feet, then repeat.


Zooplankton - Tiny organisms floating in waters that juvenile fish feed on.

Are you looking for a specific word or phrase? Don't see it here? Do you have any fishing terms that you want to add?

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