Basic Fishing Terms

Like any enthusiast activity, fishing has its own lingo. The following terms are sure to come in handy as you progress along in your new favorite pastime.


Natural attractant added to a hook to catch fish. Bait includes live and dead baitfish, crabs, worms, insects, mussels, clams, cut bait (fish), chicken meat, corn kernels, squid, and shrimp.


A metal wire device shaped like a “J” with an opening or “eye” at one end to which the line is tied and a point at the other end to catch the fish. Circle hooks have an angled point. Double and treble hooks have two or three points, respectively.


Specialized “string” used for fishing. Nylon monofilament line is the most popular. Other lines are made of different materials, including braided fibers and wire. Fly line is a specialized line made of a plastic coating on a core, and often made tapered (changing diameter) to make fly casting easier. (To preserve good fishing, take any discarded line with you when you leave. Discarded line can snag and harm wildlife, and kill fish, turtles, frogs, birds and small mammals.)


A length of monofilament, wire or other stranded material tied between the end of the line and the lure or hook. Leaders provide extra strength or abrasion resistance from the rough mouth and teeth of fish (pike, barracuda, sharks), scales (sharks), gill covers (tarpon and snook) and blows from tails (tuna).


A small device similar to a dog leash snap, tied to the line and used for attachment and quick release of hooks, rigs and lures.


A small device with two or more eyes (rings) and a central swiveling part. They are used between a lure or leader and line to prevent line twist. Otherwise, line twist can occur when a revolving lure twists line to cause tangles.


A weight of lead or other metals designed to sink a hooked bait or lure.



Any artificial item designed to attract fish and fitted with hooks. These include flies, hard plastic or wood lures (or plugs), soft plastic imitations, large offshore skirted baits, metal spoons, lead-head lures (jigs), bladed lures, spinners and spinnerbaits.

Topwater Lure

Lures made of hard plastic, wood, hollow rubber/plastic and designed to float on the surface to attract fish when twitched or moved.

Soft Plastic Lures

Made of a soft plastic to resemble a worm, lizard, crayfish, minnow, shrimp or generic wiggling creature. Often sold in bulk to be rigged on a hook by the angler.


These “safety pin” wire lures for surface fishing have a propeller blade on one wire and a weighted body, skirt and hook on the other.


A fish-like hard lure or plug designed to swim under the surface, often made of plastic or wood. Some are combined.

Casting Spoon

A spoon-shaped metal or hard plastic lure that wobbles to attract fish. They can be fitted with a fixed (solid) hook or swinging hook, that has a single, double or treble points.


Sometimes called “bucktails”, these weighted-body (often lead) lures are molded on special hooks and rigged with a hair tail or soft plastic skirt or worm.


Spinner blades rotate around the straight wire shaft of these weighted-body treble-hook lures.


A mechanical device for holding and spooling fishing line. Reels have a line spool, abrake to slow running fish, a handle to retrieveline, and a foot for clamping to a rod. Reel styles include CASTING (revolving spool), SPINNING (line coiling off stationary spool); SPINCAST, (like spinning but with a nose cone), and FLY (storing thick fly line and backing).


A pole, usually made of fiberglass, graphite or composite materials and used to catch fish. Different types are available, such as rods for spinning, fly fishing, spincast, baitcasting, offshore trolling, surf fishing, jetty/pier fishing, etc. Most rods have a reel-holding clamp and guides through which the line runs.


Any “hit” by a fish taking a lure or bait.

Tackle Box

A box or bag with special compartments and features to hold terminal tackle, lures, hooks, and other fishing gear.

Terminal Tackle

A general term for describing bobbers, sinkers, hooks, rigs, snaps, swivels and other gear used at the end of a line.

Still Fishing

Fishing without moving the bait once it is cast.


A method of slowly running a boat while trailing lures or bait. This fishing method is used to cover a lot of water and to find fish.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published