Fishing Glossary

Confused by the fishing lingo found on this site? Looking for definitions of bass fishing terms?  Here they are!

Action - Measure of rod performance that describes the elapsed time between flexion and return to straight configuration; ranges from slow to fast, with slow being the most amount of flexion;  also refers to the strength of the rod (light, meduim and heavy) with light being a limber rod and heavy a stout rod; also refers to gear of reels.

Active Fish - Bass that are feeding heavily and striking aggressively.

Adaptation - Biological adjustment that increases fitness.

Algae - Simple plant organisms.

Alkalinity - Measure of the amount of acid neutralizing bases.

Alley - An opening between patches of emergent weeds; also the parallel space separating emergent weeds and the shoreline.

Amp - Measure of electrical current.

Amp Hour - Storage capacity measurement of a deep-cycle batter obtained by multiplying the current flow in amps by the hours that it's produced.

Angler - Person using pole or rod and reel to catch fish.

Anti-reverse - System that prevents reels from spinning in reverse.

Backlash - Tangle of line on a baitcasting reel due to spool overrun.

Backwater - Shallow area off a river.

Bag Limit - Restriction on the number of fish that an angler may harvest in a day.

Bail - Metal, semicircular arm on an open-face spinning reel that engages the line after a cast.

Bait - An artificial lure is usually what is meant even though bait can also mean live bait.

Baitcasting - Fishing with a revolving-spool reel and baitcasting rod; reel mounted on topside of rod.

Baitfish - Small fish often eaten by predators.

Bar - Long ridge in a body of water.

Basic Needs - Refers to the three survival requirements of bass: reproduction, security, and food.

Bay - Major indentation in the shoreline of a lake or reservoir.

Bite - When a fish takes or touches (or hammers) a bait so that the fisherman feels it. Also known as a hit, bump, or a strike.

Black Bass - Common term used to describe several types of bass, including the largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass.

Blank - Fishing rod without grip, guides or finish.

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.

Breakline - A line of abrupt change in depth, bottom type, or water clarity in the feature of otherwise uniform structure. A place where there is a sudden or drastic change in the depth of the water, or weed type. This may be the edge of a creek, a submerged cliff, or even a stand of submerged weeds.

Brushline - The inside or the outside edge of a stretch of brush.

Brushpile - Usually refers to a mass of small- to medium-sized tree limbs lying in the water. Brush piles may be only one or two feet across, or they may be extremely large and they may be visible or submerged. They can be created by Mother Nature or manmade. They usually hold fish. And fishermen.

Bumping - Refers to the act of making a lure hit an object such as a log, tree, or pier piling in a controlled manner. This is often done unintentionally, but can get the same reaction from the fish. Also, a lure making contact with the bottom.

Buzzbait - Topwater bait with large, propeller-type blades that churn the water during retrieve.  Comprised of a leadhead, rigid hook, and wire that supports one or more blades.

Buzzing - Retrieving a lure, such as a spinnerbait or buzzbait, at a rate fast enough to cause it to remain partially out of the water, causing a noisy disturbance. Sometimes called ripping or burning.

Cabbage - Any of several species of weeds, located above the surface or underwater, of the genus Potamogeton.

Carolina Rig - A style of terminal tackle normally used to keep a lure a foot or two (or more) off the bottom. This is most commonly used with a plastic worm, but is also used with floating crankbaits and other lures as well. A barrel slip sinker of 1/2- to 1-ounce is first slipped on the line and then a swivel is tied to the end of the line. A piece of line 18 to 30 inches long is then tied to the other end of the swivel and a hook or lure is tied to the end of this piece line. Rigged Texas style (weedless with the hook buried in the body of the bait), the combination is excellent for fishing ledges, points, sandbars, and humps.

Channel - The bed of a stream or river.

Chugger - Topwater plug with a dished-out (concave or "cupped") head designed to make a splash when pulled sharply.

Clarity - Refers to the depth you are able to see an object (such as your lure) under the water.

Cold Front - A weather condition accompanied by high, clear skies, and a sudden drop in temperature.

Contact Point - The deepest position on structure where a bass angler can first effectively present his lure to bass as they migrate from deep water.

Controlled Drift - The act of using an electric motor, drift sock, or oars to allow a drift to be accomplished at a certain speed and/or direction. This term is often called "drift fishing" by most anglers.

Coontail - Submerged aquatic plant of the hornwort family typically found in hard water; charactreized by stiff, forked leaves.

Cosmic Clock - The sun's seasonal effect on water and weather conditions relating to barometric pressure, wind, and cloud cover.

Count It Down - Timing a sinking lure to determine when it will reach a specified depth. This is accomplished by finding the rate of sinking of a lure in feet-per-second. Often used when fishing for suspended fish.

Cove - An indentation along a shoreline.

Cover - Natural or manmade objects on the bottom of lakes, rivers, or impoundments, especially those that influence fish behavior. Anything a fish can use to conceal itself. Examples include stick-ups, tree lines, stumps, rocks, logs, pilings, docks, weeds, boathouses, duck blinds, bushes, etc. (not to be confused with structure).

Crankbait - Typically, a lipped lure that dives under the surface during the retrieve.  So-called lipless crankbaits are thin, minnow-like lures that sink at a rate of about 1-foot per second.

Dabbling - Working a lure up and down in the same spot a dozen or more times in a bush or beside a tree.

Depthfinder - A sonar device, either a flasher unit or LCR recorder, used to read the bottom structure, determine depth, and in some cases actually spot the fish; also called a fishfinder.

Disgorger - Device for removing hooks deeply embedded in the throat of fish.

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.

Drop-Off - A sudden increase in depth, created by gulley washes, small creek channels, land points, and the general lay of the land.

Drop Shot - A hook tied directly to the line from four-inches to four-feet above the sinker. The hook is attached from the back side or opposite the point, with a simple Palomar knot with a tag end about four or five feet long. The weight hangs and the hook is at a 90-degree angle to the line with the hook point up. The hook can be 18 to 24 inches above a bell sinker tied on with a slip-knot.

Ecology - The branch of biology dealing with the relationship between organisms and their environment.

Edge - Refers to the borders created by a change in the structure or vegetation in a lake. Some examples of edges are tree lines, weed lines, and the edge of a drop-off.

Euthrophic - Highly fertile waters characterized by warm, shallow basins.

Fan Cast - Making a series of casts only a few degrees apart to cover a half circle (more or less).

Farm Pond - Small manmade body of water.

Feeder Creek - Tributary to a stream.

Feeding Times - Certain times of the day when fish are most active. These are associated with the position of the sun and moon and are referred to as solunar tables (also called moon charts) and are predictable for any time and place. See Moon Times.

Filamentous Algae - Type of algae characterized by long chains of attached cells that give it a stringy feel and appearance.

Feeding Cycle - Certain regular intervals during which bass satisfy their appetites.  Examples: Major or Minor Solunar periods; sunrise, sunset.

Finesse Fishing - An angling technique characterized by the use of light tackle - line, rods, reel and artificial baits (often tube worms, grubs, or other small-sized soft-plastic lures); often productive in clear, fairly uncluttered water.

Flat - An area in a body of water with little if any change in depth. Small and large, flats are generally surrounded on at least one side by deeper water, the bottom comes up to form a flat area where fish will often move up for feeding.

Flipping - (generally shortened to flippin') The technique of placing a lure in a given spot precisely, and quietly, with as little disturbance of the water as possible using an underhand cast while controlling the line with your hand.

Flipping Stick - Heavy action fishing rod, 7 to 8 feet long, designed for bass fishing.

Florida Rig - Very similar to the Texas Rig, the only difference is the weight is secured by "screwing" it into the bait.

Fly 'N Rind - Same thing as jig-and-pig - a combination of a leadhead jig and pork rind trailer.

Forage - Small baitfish, crayfish and other creatures that bass eat. May also be used in the sense of the bass looking for food (foraging).

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

Gear Ratio - Measure of a reels' retrieve speed; the number of times the spool revolves for each complete turn of the handle.

Grayline - Grayline lets you distinguish between strong and weak echoes.  It "paints" gray on targets that are stronger than a preset value.  This allows you to tell the difference between a hard and soft bottom.  For example, 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 gray line.

Grub - A short plastic worm used with a weighted jig hook.

Habitat - The place in nature where a plant or animal species lives. The water, vegetation, and all that makes up the lake, which is where bass live. Habitat, for other creatures, is also in the woods and cities, it's basically a term used to indicate a "living area" or home environment.

Hard Bottom - Area in a body of water with a solid base - clay, gravel, rock, sand. The type of bottom that you would not sink far, if at all, were you to walk on it.

Hawg - Usually refers to a lunker-size or heavyweight bass weighing 4 pounds or more.

Holding Area - Structure that habitually holds three to five catchable bass.

Holding Station - Place on lake where inactive fish spend most of their time.

Honey Hole - A super fishing spot containing a number of big bass; also any place with a large concentration of keeper bass.

Horizontal Movement - The distance a fish moves while remaining at the same depth.

Hump - An area higher than the surrounding area. A submerged dam or island might be considered a hump.

Ichthyology - The branch of zoology that deals with fishes - their classification, structure, habits, and live history.

Inactive Fish - Bass that are in a non-feeding mood.  Examples of typically inactive times: following a cold front; during a major weather change that causes a sudden rise or fall in water temperature, or when a rising lake lever is abruptly lowered.

Inside Bend - The inside line of a grass bed or a creek channel.

Isolated Structure - A possible holding spot for bass; examples include a single bush on a point; a midlake hump, or a large tree that has fallen into the water.

Jig - A leadhead poured around a hook and featuring a skirt of rubber, plastic, or hair.

Jig-N-Pig - Combination of a leadhead jig and pork rind trailer; among the most effective baits for attracting trophy-size bass.

Keeper - A bass that conforms to a specific minimum length limit established by tournament organizations and/or state fisheries department.

Lake Modification Sources - Elements that change bodies of water, such as ice action, wave action, and erosion.

Lake Zones - Designation that includes four categories: shallow water, open water, deep water, and basin.

Laydown (or Falldown) - A tree that has fallen into the water.

Light Intensity - The amount of light that can be measured at certain depths of water; the greater the intensity, the farther down the light will project.  This measurement can be significantly affected by wind conditions and water clarity.  In waters where light intensity is low, brightly colored lures are smart choices.

Line Guides - Rod rings through which fishing line is passed.

Lipless Crankbaits - Artificial baits designed to resemble a swimming baitfish.  Such plugs vibrate and/or wobble during retrieve; some have built-in rattles.  Also called swimming baits.

Livewell - An aerated tank in boats used to hold fish in water until weigh-in time so that they have a better chance of survival when released. Similar to an aquarium.

Logjam - A group of horizontal logs pushed together by wind or water flow to form an obstruction. In lakes, logjams are usually found close to shore and in the backs of coves.

Loose-Action Plug - A lure with wide and slow movements from side to side.

Lunker - Normally, a bass weighing 4 pounds or more.

Micropterus Salmoides - Scientific term for largemouth bass.

Migration Route - The path followed by bass when moving from one area to another.

Milfoil - Surface-growing aquatic plants.

Mono - Short for monofilament fishing line.

Moon Times - Four phases of the moon are usually what the fisherman is concerned with. Generally the "best times" in a month occur three days prior and three days after, and include the day of the new or full moon. First quarter and second quarter periods are considered as only "good times."

Off Color - Refers to the color and or clarity of the water. Brown is muddy like from rain runoff, greenish from algae and black from tannic acid are the normal off-color conditions.

Our Hole - Proprietary term used by anglers to describe the area they intend to fish. (My hole, their hole, etc.) Though actually all holes are all angler's holes since the lakes being fished are mostly public water. It's only your hole if you get there first. Otherwise it's their hole.

Outside Bend -  The outside line of a creek channel or grass bed can be considered on outside bend.

Oxbow - A U-shaped bend in a river.

Pattern - A defined set of location and presentation factors that consistently produce fish.  Example: If you catch more than one fish off a pier or stick-up, then your chances of catching more bass in such places are excellent.  This is commonly called "establishing a pattern".

Pegging -  Putting a toothpick in the hole of a slip sinker to prevent the sinker from sliding along the line. Other items such as rubber bands slipped through the sinker have also become popular and don't snag line.

PFD - Initials that stand for Personal Floatation Device; also called a life vest.

pH -  This is a measurement for liquids to determine whether they are acidic or alkaline. On a scale of one to ten, seven is considered neutral. Below seven the liquid is acidic and above seven it is alkaline. This is a factor that plays a role in the health of the lake and the fish as well as where the fish may be found in a lake.

pH Meter - Just as a thermometer measures heat and cold, a pH meter can be used to measure the acidity and alkalinity of water.  The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14.  Bass generally prefer water that is slightly alkaline in the 7.5 to 7.9 range.  Water with a pH less than 7 is acidic.  Once popular among serious bass fishermen, the device is no longer widely used.

Pick-Up - The act of a bass taking a slowly fished lure, such as a plastic worm, crawfish or lizard.

Pit - Area excavated for mining operations that fills with water.

Pitching - Presentation technique in which worms or jigs are dropped into cover at close range with an underhand pendulum motion, using a 6 1/2 to 71/2 foot baitcasting rod. The act of pitching a bait into a pocket or under tree limbs. Similar to flipping, but requires less stealth and usually done from further distances (known as pitchin').

Pocket - A small indentation of the shoreline.

Point  - A finger of land jutting into the water; deeper water is usually found just beyond the exposed tip and along the length of both sides.  Fishing on and around points is often exceptionally rewarding. They almost always hold fish.

Post Front - The period following a cold front; atmosphere clears and becomes bright; usually characterized by strong winds and a significant drop in temperature.

Presentation - A collective term referring to choice of type of lure, color, and size; structure targeted; amount of disturbance a bait makes when entering the water; and retrieval technique, speed, and depth used to catch fish. This refers to the circumstances and manner (speed and direction, etc.) in which a lure is presented to a fish.

Pro -  A very few of the nation's top bass fishermen can truly claim the word professional. Not only must the pro be a consistent money winner on the major tournament circuits, but he or she must also be articulate, a good salesperson, present a clean-cut image, and have the ability to teach others to catch fish.

Professional Overrun - A polite term for backlash.

Revolving-Spool Reel - Another term for baitcasting reel.  The spool turns during casting, unlike the spool of a spinning or spincasting reel.

Reservoir - Artificially created place where water is collected and stored; also called an impoundment.

Riprap - A man-made stretch of rocks or material of a hard composition that usually extend above and below the shoreline; often found near dams of big impoundments.

Saddle - Site where structure narrows before widening again.

Sanctuary - Deep-water bass habitat.

Scatter Point - Position along structure where bass start to separate or scatter; often found in shallow water, at or very close to a breakline.

Short Strike -  When a fish hits at a lure and misses it.

Slack Line -  The loose line from the tip of the rod to the lure. This can be a slight bow in the line to an excess of line lying on the water.

Slicks - Bass not long enough to meet tournament standards; typically less than 14 inches.  Such fish also are called "nubbins ", "through backs", "pop corns", "babies" and "dinks".

Slip Sinker - A lead weight with a hole through the center.  Threaded on line, a slip sinker slides freely up and down.

Slough - A long, narrow stretch of water such as a small stream or feeder tributary off a lake or river.

Slow Roll - Spinnerbait presentation in which the lure is retrieved slowly through and over cover objects.

Slush Bait - Topwater plug with flat or pointed head.

Spincaster - A manner of fishing employing a push-button, closed-face spinning reel and baitcasting rod; reel is mounted on topside of rod.

Spinnerbait - A leadhead lure similar in shape to an open safety-pin with a hook; other features include a rubber, plastics, or hair skirt, and one or two blades of various shapes and sizes.

Spinning - A manner of fishing employing an open-face or closed-face spinning reel an spinning rod; reel is mounted on the underside of the rod; rod guides are on the underside of the rod.

Split Shotting - Often called stitch fishing because you move the bait in increments no larger than a sewing stitch and made just as slowly and patience is the key. Use a small #5 split-shot and crimp it about 18 inches above a light wire 1/0 or lighter small hook. Spinning tackle is a must. Small worms, 3-inch salt craws and others are perfect for the gentle application required.

Spook - The act of alarming a fish in a negative way. Examples: excessive noise, casting a human shadow.

Stick-Up - Stationary structure - stump, limb, section of pipe, fence post - that extends about 5 feet or less above the surface; a favorite casting target of bass fishermen.

Stragglers - Bass that remain near shore following a general migration.

Stringer -  Antiquated term for a limit of fish, used by tournament anglers to indicate their catch (10-pound stringer = 10 pounds of fish. Not actually used any longer to retain bass, just a term people can't seem to stop using. (see livewell).

Structure - Changes in the shape of the bottom of lakes, rivers, or impoundments, especially those that influence fish behavior.  This is probably the most misunderstood word in bass fishing. Structure is a feature on the bottom of the lake. Some examples of structure are creeks, humps, depressions, sandbars, roadbeds, ledges, and drop-offs. Some examples that are not structure: a stump, tree, or brush pile (these are cover).

Suspended Fish - Bass at midlevel depths, neither near the surface nor on the bottom.

Swimming Lures - Sinking-type artificial baits designed to resemble a swimming baitfish.  Such plugs vibrate and/or wobble during retrieve; some have built-in rattles.  Also called lipless crankbaits.

Tail-Spinners - Compact, lead-bodied lures with one or two spinner blades attached to the tail, and a treble hook suspended from the body; designed to resemble a wounded shad; effective on schooling bass.

Taper - An area in a body of water that slopes toward deeper depths.

Terminal Tackle - Angling equipment, excluding artificial baits, attached to the end of a fishing line; examples include hooks, snaps, swivels, snap-swivels, sinkers, floats, and plastic beads.

Texas Rig - The method of securing a hook to a soft-plastic bait - worm, lizard, crawfish, so that the hook is weedless. A slip sinker is threaded onto the line and then a hook is tied to the end of the line. The hook is then inserted into the head of a worm for about one-quarter of an inch and brought through until only the eye is still embedded in the worm. The hook is then rotated and the point is embedded slightly into the worm without coming out the opposite side. Diagram

Thermocline - The layer of water where the temperature changes at least one-half a degree per foot of depth. Basically, a layer of water where rising warm and sinking cold water meet.

Tight-Action Plug - A lure with short, rapid side-to-side movement.

Tiptop - Line guide at top of fishing rod.

Topwaters - Floating hard baits that create some degree of surface disturbance during retrieve.

Trailer Hook - The extra hook, or cheater hook added to a single-hook lure, such as a spinnerbait or weedless spoon.

Transition - The imaginary line where one type of bottom material changes to another.

Treble Hook - Hook with single or bundled shaft and three points.

Triggering - Employment of any lure-retrieval technique or other fishing strategy that causes a bass to strike.

Trolling Motor - A small electric fishing motor, typically mounted on the bow, that is used as secondary boat propulsion, for boat positioning, and to maneuver quietly in fishing areas.

Turnover - The period when the cold water on the surface of a body of water descends and is replaced by warmer water from below.

Vertical Movement -  Up and down movement of fish. Can also be movement of a lure such as a spoon  (verticaljigging).

Weedless - A description of a lure designed to be fished in heavy cover with a minimum amount of snagging.

Weedline - Abrupt edge of a weedbed caused by a change in depth, bottom type, or other factor.

Wormin' - The act of fishing with a plastic worm, lizard, crawfish, or similar bait.