Fishing and Angling Dictionary

Glossary of Fishing Related Words and Terms A - Z of Fishing Words
A reference page containing an alphabetical list of words or other linguistic terms used by fishermen and anglers with specialised information about them including meanings

To help the beginner to angling to understand what his mates may be saying!
What is Fishing?
Fishing (also called Angling) is the sport of catching fish, freshwater or saltwater, typically with rod, line, and hook. Like hunting, fishing originated as a means of providing food for survival.
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What does your word begin with ?
In its most basic form, fishing is throwing out a fishing line and pulling in the fish when it goes for your fishing bait or fishing lure. It sounds so plain and simple, however, throughout the history of fishing, various fishing disciplines have emerged that target specific fishing conditions and species of fish. These fishing variations have their own unique fishing equipment, know-how, and technical skills. The type of water in which they are done, the kind of fish you want to catch, as well as the kind of fishing equipment used are also determinants of these fishing disciplines.
Fishing is one of the most well-liked forms of recreation in the world. In fact in the United States it is secondary only to swimming as the most popular leisure activity and in the UK it is said there are more people goes fishing on a Saturday than go to football matches. People of all ages and both sexes get hooked up on fishing each year. They enjoy fishing in many variations - fly fishing, bait fishing, lure fishing, and many other fishing disciplines. Fishing can be done from the banks of rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and canals or from the deck of a fishing boat. You can fish alone or better yet with your family or a couple of friends for a nice bonding experience.
Fishing as a hobby or leisure activity is done with fishing tackle which includes the fishing rod, fishing reel, fishing line, fish hooks and fishing lures or fishing baits. Each piece of equipment has its own features and characteristics and are designed based on different situations. Aside from knowing the equipment, there are so many categories, areas, specialties, and skills that you must know if you decide to go on this adventure. You can try to master them all, but you do not have to. It is a lot of work and will probably take almost half of your life in making yourself proficient on all there is to know about fishing. What's important is that you have the ideas on the different aspects of fishing so that you will be able to determine which style, type, or technique best suits you.
Boilie hair stop - boilies can be used with a hair rig. To keep the boilies on the hair rig you can use something called a boilie hair stop. This is simply a tiny piece of plastic with bulbs at each end like a small dumbbell. A piece of grass can be used to do the same thing.
Braided line - or braid for short is a low diameter, low stretch fishing line, made by braiding together several strands of man made fibre. Used primarily as very strong hook length material when targeting big carp or specimen fish. Braided line is very strong yet supple and has the advantage of blending in with the river or lake bottom
Bread crumb - bread crumb is ground up bread and is the best and cheapest base for any groundbait. Bread crumb is very fluffy and clouds the water very well which is ideal if fishing using bread punch. When adding water give it time to be absorbed
Bread flake - bread flake is piece of bread torn from the loaf that is pinched onto the hook as hookbait. White bread is best as hookbait
Adjustable bankstick - a bankstick made with a hollow tubed rod that has a sliding tubed insert that allows you to change the height
Affluent - a stream or river that flows into a larger one; a tributary
Air Bladder - strong walled gas filled sac in the upper part of the body cavity of many bony fishes just beneath the vertebral column; its principal function is to offset the weight of heavier tissue such as bone. In some fishes used for sound production or respiration.
Albright knot - common knot used for tying the backing to fly line.
Alevin - the developmental life stage of young salmonids and trout that are between the egg and fry stage. The alevin has not absorbed its yolk sac and has not emerged from the spawning gravels
Baitrunner - especially used by carp or specimen anglers this is an open faced reel with a rear drag system that has a lever at the back. Line can be pulled off freely by a hooked fish and when the lever is activated the normal drag mechanism is engaged
Baitwell - a special well in a boat that holds the bait
Ball bearings - small metal balls added to the mechanical mechanism of high-quality reels to make the retrieve smoother. Normally the more ball bearings a reel has the higher quality.
Balling up - throwing in lots of balls of groundbait into your swim such as at the start of a bream fishing session
Balsa - type of wood floats used to be made of and still are in some cases, several lures are also manufactured from balsa wood. This wood is very light, yet highly buoyant
Bait fish - any fish that is of primary prey to a larger fish
Bait needle - a needle that has had one side of the eye removed making a small hook. When used for baiting a hair rig you put the boilies or whatever bait you want to use onto this needle and then hook the hair rig loop onto the needle and pull the bait off the needle and onto the hair rig line. Then you put a bit of grass or boilie stop through the loop to hold the bait on, pull the bait down to it and your ready to go
Bait rocket - a rocket shaped device of different sizes used a lot by carp anglers for getting bait out to where they are fishing. The rocket is tied onto the end of your line then filled with boilies or other particle bait and cast out into your swim. When the rocket hits the water it flips upside down emptying out the contents
Bait band - used with boilies and pellets etc. A small elastic band that is wrapped around a bait and the hook is passed under the band or nicked through it so that the bait hangs from the side or the base of the hook. Bait bands are available in a variety of sizes to suit different sized baits
Bait boat - remote controlled boat used mainly for carp fishing by carp anglers or by specialist anglers to place both their baited rig and loose feed, such as boilies, accurately at distances unachievable by casting
Bait box - used for carrying your bait such as maggots
Bait-clip - a clip that holds the baited hook during the cast
Bait dropper - a device used to put hookbait samples down to the bottom of your swim. It is basically a cage with a door on the side held closed with a latch. When lowered down to the bottom the latch is pushed up and opens the cage door letting the bait fall out
Backing line - old fishing line or string that is attached to a reel as padding to fill up the spool before attaching the new line
Backwater - an area of a river that is sometimes isolated
Bagging up - catching lots of fish during a fishing session
Bag limit - fishery restriction in the number of fish that an angler may retain, on a per trip or daily basis. Generally pertaining to trout.. Also known as Creel limit
Bail arm - the wire part of a fixed-spool reel that guides the line on the spool
Bait - anything used on the hook to entice and capture the fish
Barbless hooks - fish friendly hooks that are made without a barb. Easier to penetrate and easier to remove. As long as pressure is kept on the line when a fish is hooked the losing of the fish is minimised
Barbules - fleshy projections from the mouth of fish such as carp and barbel.
Bass - sea fish - a very popular game fish in the USA
Bay - indentation in the shoreline of a river, lake or other body of water
Bead - beads are small plastic balls with a hole through the centre for the line to go through. Placed on the line before and after weights they are used as a buffer to protect the line when casting or striking
Bed chair - a padded folding chair carp anglers use, can be unfolded into a bed
Bivvy - a domed shaped tent that has a large opening at the front so that you can fish from under it. Mainly used by carp or specimen anglers
Blank - this has two meanings. The first meaning is used in rod building. It describes a section of the rod with no rod rings etc. The second meaning is the day we all have at sometimes, when you do not catch any fish at all
Bleak - species of fish, see Bleak
Blind cast - casting to no particular area
Block end feeder - sometimes called a 'maggot feeder'. This is used on your line to carry groundbait or hookbait offerings into your swim. Maggots are the main type of bait used. The block end feeder is a plastic tube device with holes drilled into the sides, blocked at one end with a cap at the other that opens to insert bait or groundbait. They vary in size from 2 centimetres in length upwards with the average being 50 centimetres. The amount of holes in the feeder control the speed at which the groundbait or hookbait escapes
Blood knot - the most common knot for tying lines to the hooks, flies and lures and also used to tie two lines together
Bank - The ground next to a body of water.
Bank fishing - fishing from the bank of a river, lake or other water as opposed to fishing from a boat
Bankstick - a straight rod that is pointed at one end and is threaded at the other end. The pointed is pushed into the ground. and into the threaded end is screwed a rod rest, keepnet or bait alarm. A reed cutter can be screwed into a bankstick making it into a long handle. Also if sitting in a chair an angler can use two banksticks with a rod rest attached to each so that the rod is held off the ground at the right height for reaching
Bar - long ridge in a body of water
Barb - a sharp pointed raised burr cut in the hook just behind the point of a hook. To stop the bait or a fishing coming of the hook
Barbel - a hard fighting coarse fish species targeted by individuals or specialist anglers, see Barbel
Big chuck - To make a very long distance cast
Biology - The study of living things
Birds nests - tangled fishing line often caused by the main line coming off the spool to quickly
Bite alarm - many types available. an electronic device that 'beeps' when movement of your line is detected. Notifies you when you are otherwise occupied that a fish has taken your bait. Similar in shape to a rod rest with a 'V' shape for sitting the rod into
Bite or biting - when fish has tried to or is trying to eat your bait
Bloodworm - see Bloodworm and Joker - bloodworm is the small reddish larva of the midge fly. Used mainly as a hook bait on small wire hooks but also used along with Joker and added to groundbait. This bait can be the difference between catching and blanking on days when bites are few. An ideal bait for use on canals.
Bobber - a float fixed to the line that holds the bait or lure at a set depth
Bobbin - used to hold the spool of thread as the fly is tied
Bodied waggler - a bodied waggler is a float with a buoyant bulb near the bottom of the float that increases the amount of shot needs to set it
Boilie - boilies are round balls of commercial or home made bait. They are made in various sizes and colours with different ingredients and flavour additives to suit the fish expected to be caught. Boilies are mainly used by carp or specimen anglers
Boilie throwing stick - a throwing stick is 30 to 45 centimetres long, different lengths for different distances. They are slightly curved with an open channel at the end. The boilies are placed into this channel and you hold it with one hand behind you with the channel opening pointing forwards and in one quick movement, swing it out towards the water in front of you throwing the boilies into your swim
Bolt Rig - a bolt rig is a fishing rig normally associated with fishing for big carp and specimen anglers - a ledger rig with a short (ish) hooklength. When the fish takes the bait the hooklength straightens out and the the fish feels the weight of the lead and 'bolts off', causing the fish to hook itself
Boom - a boom is made of wire and used when sea fishing. Attached to the main line it holds the hook trace out from the main fishing line to help prevent tangling
Bottom feeder - refers to a bottom feeding fish such as a bream, tench, carp and catfish
Bottom fish - fish that spend most of their lives at the bottom of the water such as tench, bream, carp and catfish
Bottom fishing - fishing with the baited hook on the water bed for fish such as bream, tench, carp and catfish
Brackish - water that is mostly fresh, with some salt. The far ends of tidal creeks are mostly brackish, supporting sometimes fresh and saltwater fish
Brolly - short nickname for an umbrella
Bucketmouth - in the USA a slang term for largemouth bass, bigmouth bass - in the UK a term referring to someone who uses foul language, swearing.
Bucktail  - (USA) a type of fishing lure
Bulk Shot - split shot put onto the line together, bulked into a group
Bumped off - Lost a fish during the fight due to the hook pulling out
Caddis - a general name for the dozens of subspecies of caddis flies found in trout streams all over the world. Also known as a "sedge," they are characterized by a tent-like wing. Caddis have four stages of development, from egg to larva to pupa to adult
Cage Feeder - a cage feeder is a weighted cylindrical tube made from wire mesh. Used by fixing to the mainline, usually by way of a swivel, and filling with groundbait and casting to the are you are fishing. The groundbait attracts the fish. Used for fishing on the bottom for bottom feeders such as bream, carp, barbel and tench
Canal - a man made waterway used for navigation.
Carnivorous - meaning - feeding on animal tissue
Carp - a freshwater fish, see Carp
Carper - one who fishes for carp
Carp rod - Carp rods are made specifically for catching carp. They are made to be strong to cope with the larger carp, yet have a good constant test curve. They are usually around 11 feet long. Carp rods are usually made with carbon fibre or with a carbon / fibreglass composition. They also usually have a fixed, screw reel seat. The common test curves for carp rods, are between 1.5 lbs. up to 3.5 lbs
Carp sack - a carp sack are a specialised bag designed to hold a carp in the water in place of a keepnet. They are made of a material that is designed not to harm any fish placed in it. The sack is designed to help keep fish calm by covering the fishes head and eyes. It is placed back down under the water, and is tethered to the bank
Carp sling - this is a specialised sling used for weighing fish. It is designed to weigh one fish at a time. The material used in making the carp sling is also designed to reduce the amount of protective slime that is removed from the carp. These can be a separate sling or incorporated into special carp landing net heads. These special carp net heads arms are designed to fold up together over the fish. The net can then be removed and act as the sling
Cast - to propel a line with a bait, lure or imitation fly attached out onto the water by using a rod and reel. A cast is also the wormlike secretion above ground covering the worm hole made by lugworms, lobworms and other worms
Casters - the chrysalis form of a maggot, approximately 1 cm long and .3 cm wide and shaped like a rounded capsule. The colour of casters varies between light and dark brown. They are a great hook bait for catching roach
Casting - to send a bait, lure or imitation fly out onto the water by using a rod and reel.
Casting arc - the path that a rod takes during the cast
Catapult - a catapult is a 'Y' shaped form of sling shot. It is used to catapult (throw out) loose bait or groundbait to the area the angler is fishing
Catch and release - releasing a fish after it has been caught.
Char - an excellent game fish that is a cousin of the trout family
Chemically etched - process used in the manufacturing of hooks which gives a very sharp point.
Chick Pea - a  particle bait used mainly by carp anglers
Chod Rig - The Chod is a pop up rig used to present bait over weedy or silty bottom lakes. Can be used for most species but a favourite for carp anglers. see Fishing the Chod
Chopped worm - chopped worm is simply what it says, bits of worm chopped up into small pieces and used as hookbait or in groundbait. Chopped worm is a great bait for catching perch.
Chub - species of fish see Chub
Chum - 1. dog meat used as a carp bait  2. a groundbait of chopped fish etc used by sea anglers fishing from a boat - thrown over the side of the boat to attract fish such as when shark fishing. Also called rubby dubby.
Circle hook - normally used for sea fishing. A circular hook up to 16/0 size, very safe to handle. The fish hooks itself with this one, and the harder they pull, the more firmly the hook imbeds itself. Ideal for releasing fish, since the circle hook is seldom swallowed.
Clonker - nickname for a large fish
Clutch - the drag system on a reel
Coarse fish - all freshwater fish other than salmon and trout are coarse fish. The word 'Coarse' as in coarse fish, is believed to have come from many years ago when fish other than salmon and trout were considered 'coarse' to eat.
Coarse fishing - coarse fishing is is angling for coarse fish. It encompasses many different techniques and methods used to catch coarse fish. The major techniques classified under coarse fishing are; Ledgering, Float fishing, Pole fishing, Whip fishing, Lure fishing, Bait fishing etc
Cocktail - a cocktail is a term given when using two or more types of bait on the hook at the same time
Controller, Controller float - controllers are short and stubby, pre weighted fishing floats designed to present baits on the surface for carp fishing during warm weather when they are feeding on the top
Crack off - the snapping of the line when casting, resulting in the loss of end tackle
Crankbait - a crankbait is a plastic or wooden lure with a diving bill, that dives downward when retrieved that catches fish while you are reeling, cranking it in.
Creek - a stream of water that is smaller than a river.
Creel - a wicker basket to keep tackle and fish, normally used by trout and salmon anglers
Creel Limit - the number of fish an angler can keep as set by the fishery rules. Also known as Bag limit
Crimps - are used to secure mono line or wire that cannot be tied
Dace - species of fish, see Dace
Dacron - is a synthetic material that is popular in the manufacture of braided line used in rig traces
Daiwa - fishing tackle producer
Dam - fishing tackle producer. Also a Dam is used to hold water back.
Dam Quick - fishing reel manufacturers
Damselfly - it appears the same as the dragonfly, they are aquatic insects found in ponds and lakes and they are an important food for many species of fish
Dap - to fish with a fly bounced gently on the water
Dapping -  a technique of presenting a fly on the surface of the water where the fly is connected to a short piece of line on a long rod. The fly is then touched on the surface of the water, immediately over a place where a fish might lie. A fishing method to eliminate drag and present the fly to fish that stay close to the bank of a river
Day ticket - payment by anglers to fish a fishery for a day
Dendrobaena - worm used as fishing bait, full name Dendrobaena veneta (also known as the European night crawler & Eisenia hortensis), is a very tough and particularly wriggly worm, making them ideal as worms for fishing
Descaling - removing of fish scales prior to cooking
Deadbait - Deadbait is a dead fish used to catch predatory fish like Pike, Eel and Zander
Deadbaiting - is using a dead fish while angling to catch predatory fish like Pike, Eel and Zander
Disgorger - device for removing a hook from the mouth of fish or deeply embedded in the throat of fish
Double-tapered fly line - a fly line that is thicker on both ends and thinner in the middle. Double-tapered fly lines can be switched around as one end becomes worn.
Dorsal fin - the fin located on the back of fishes, and in front of the adipose fin, if such is present
Downrigger - a device fitted to a boat that uses a cable and a heavy weight to troll baits and lines at a set depth Drag - a device inside the reel, like a brake that puts pressure on the line being pulled from the reel
Dragonfly - a large predatory aquatic insect that usually matures in ponds and lakes
Diamond eye threader - the diamond eye threader is used to thread elastic through the top section of poles. It is made from one long length of very thin stainless steel wire folded in half. The two halves of the wire are twisted together into one length and at the folded end the wire is opened and shaped as a four sided diamond, with a thin point at the top. The elastic is put through the hole and the other end pulled all the way through the pole section thus threading the elastic
Drift fishing - fishing and drifting along with the wind and tide
Drogue - device dragged behind a boat to reduce speed, such as a bucket with the bottom cut out
Drop back - slackening of the main line indicating the fish has picked up the bait and moved towards the angler.
Dropfly - an artificial fly attached to a fishing line leader in angling
Drop-Off - a  sudden increase in depth of the water.
Caudal fin - the tail fin of fish
Caudal peduncle - the tapering portion of a fish's body between the posterior edge of the anal fin base and the base of the caudal fin.
Centrepin Reel - centrepin reels are fishing reels that have a vertical drum set upon a central pin that holds the line. Mainly used for river fishing because when trotting a good centrepin will spin freely and allow the float to pull line from the reel and flow steadily with the current of the river
Channel - bed of a stream or river
Dry fly - an artificial fly used to float  on the water and to imitate an adult insect on the surface of the water
Dun - a stage of life in a mayfly's lifecycle
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Ebb tide - the outgoing or falling tide
Eel - species of fish, see Eel
Eddy - a section of moving water usually moving around an object under the water
Electrofishing - fishing by stunning fish with electric shock. As used when checking waters for fish count
Embryo - the early stages of development before an organism becomes self supporting
End tackle - the hook and lead used at the end of the main fishing line
Esox lucius - Latin name for fish species Pike
Estuary - sheltered water, often with grass bottom or grassy shorelines, where juvenile fish have shelter, food and a chance to grow
Eyed - a hook with an enclosed loop on the shank for tying the line to
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False cast - casting the fly line forward and back in the air as a means to lengthen the amount of line that extends out from the rod, to dry the fly or to modify the path of the line. In a false cast, the fly is not allowed to drop onto the water.
Fathom - measurement of water depth. Six feet of depth. Many nautical charts are marked in fathoms, not feet
Feather the line - term used for - after casting the angler slows down the spool of the reel with a finger to stop the line spilling from the reels spool too fast and getting tangled up
Feeder - this is a cylindrical container of various sizes for holding groundbait or free offerings of hook baits. They can be 'block end' for holding loose offerings such as maggots or  'open end' used for groundbait or 'cage feeder' made from a mesh material used for groundbait.
Feeder rod - this is made for casting feeders which can be fairly heavy when filled with groundbait. These rods are generally from 9ft to 12 ft and made stronger and more stiffer than float rods.
Feeding on the top - this is a term used when fish are feeding on baits presented on top of the water - floating baits such as bread
Ferrule, ferrules - the end connections between multi-piece rod pieces. One is solid the other is hollow and the solid end fits inside the hollow end
Fibreglass - material used to make rods. Glass makes the rod less sensitive and more flexible, and reduces the chance of pulling a bait from a fish's mouth
Fin - the external membranous projecting part of a fish used in propelling or guiding the body.
Fingerling - a young fish in its first or second year of life
Fish - a creature that lives in water and has fins and gills. If you don't know what this is maybe you should learn before going fishing:)
Fish On  -  a hooked fish, shouted in a match when time is up, allowing for a period of time to land it
Fishable -waters that can be fished
Fisherman / Fisherwoman - a man / woman who fishes as an occupation or for pleasure
Fishery - a water that contains fish
Fishfinder / sonar - electronic devise usually used on board a boat to detect fish or objects under the water
Fishhook - a curved (U shaped) section of strong wire sharpened at one end and tied to fishing line the other. either barbed or barbless for catching fish
Fish Ladder - a series of pools arranged like steps that fish (salmon or trout) use to move upstream over a dam
Fishing - the art of catching fish. Fishing is the act of catching or trying to catch fish. This can be either the recreation of catching fish as a sport or commercial fishing of catching fish as a food. Fishing is carried out in rivers, canals, lakes, seas and oceans, from the shore or from a boat
Fishing Gear - term used for the collection of all fishing tackle such as rods, reels, hooks, line etc
Fishing Line - self explanatory
Fixed spool reels - reel with a static spool
Flake - a piece of bread used as hook bait
Flies - artificial imitations of the aquatic and terrestrial insects found in and near trout streams. Flies are tied from many and various materials, such as feathers, fur, thread and tinsel, with patterns imitating minnows, baitfish and other crustacean species
Fly Fishing - a technique for fishing where the weight of the line is used to cast a very light weight fly that would not be heavy enough to be cast with a conventional spinning or casting rod. Usually pertaining to trout and salmon fishing
Fly Line - a weighted line which is cast out onto the water to deliver the fly to the desired location.
Flymaker - person who ties artificial flies for angling
Forceps - similar to a pair of long handled pliers. A medical instrument used in the removal of hooks from jaws of a fish. Used mainly by game anglers and by predator anglers for removal of the hook from a hooked fish. Have pliers like jaws with locking clips so that once they are clamped to the hook, they stay there until you release them.
Forward cast - the part of the cast when the line is in front of the angler
Freshwater - freshwater is a term used for waters such as rivers and lakes as opposed to saltwater (the sea)
Arbor - the centre of a centrepin reel's spool. The arbor can also be a knot
Arbor knot - knot used for tying backing to the arbor of the fly reel.
Arlsey bomb -   a pear shape lead weight developed by the late Dick Walker used for fishing
Artificial Baits - lures or flies made of wood, plastic, metal, feathers, or similar inert material
Attractor - this is an additive that is used with the bait or mixed with the groundbait. Flavour attractors can be sweet or spicy. Brasem is a good additive used for catching bream
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Anti fall back - A safety feature designed to prevent in-line lead weights from falling back towards the fish when the rod is raised. This can be something simple such as a split shot placed on the line somewhere above the hook, or a swivel tied between the hook and the lead.
Anti tangle lead - lead weight with a piece of silicone tubing through the centre projecting a centimetre either end to protect the line from abrasion
Anti-reverse - mechanism on the reel that prevents the spools of multipliers and fixed-spool reels from turning backwards
Aquaculture - The controlled cultivation and harvest of aquatic plants or animals such as edible marine algae, clams, oysters, and salmon
Anadromous - fish that ascend rivers to spawn - fish that migrate to the sea to grow and mature, and migrate back to fresh water to spawn and reproduce
Anal fin - the fin located on the ventral median line and behind the anus
Angle - to fish with a hook and line
Angler - one who fishes with a pole or rod and reel
Angler fish - a fish species
Angling - term used for fishing. It is the sport of catching fish, freshwater or saltwater, typically with rod, line, and hook.
Algae - plant organisms found in both ponds and lakes.
Allcocks of Redditch - reel manufacturers
Amnesia fishing line - memory free solid monofilament line popular with carp and sea anglers
Floatant - a paste or powder applied to the fly, fly line or leader, to increase its buoyancy
Floater - a  floating bait, often refers to dog biscuits, trout pellets or similar
Float, floats - a float is a buoyant devise that is used to suspend a bait at a specific depth and used as an indicator as to when a fish is taking the bait.
Fly box - container to store your flies, to keep them dry and protect the delicate ones
Fluorocarbon - a type of fishing line that is often invisible below the water's surface
Fluvial - migrating between main rivers and tributaries
Fly - an artificial bait made from natural and synthetic material, to imitate insects, bugs, fles etc

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Maggots -  Maggots don't really need a description; they are legless larvae produced from eggs laid by the blue bottle fly and a popular bait used by most anglers.
Mainline - the main fishing line on the fishing reel
Midge - a tiny aquatic insect that thrives in just about all aquatic environments, provide a great source of food for fish
Migrating - moving from one area of residence to another
Milt - the secretion of a fish for reproduction
Minnow - a small fish
Mitchell - reel manufacturers
Offshore fishing - fishing from a boat out to sea a distance away from the land
Olivette - an oval fishing weight used on the line by pole anglers
Operculum - the gill cover
Orvis - fishing reel and rod manufacturers and assorted fishing tackle
Outriggers - poles that extends out from a boat to enable several lines to be fished, without tangling
Overfish - to fish to excess
Oxbow - a U shaped bend in a river or stream
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Perch - species of fish. Latin name Perca fluviatilis - from the Family: Percidae see Perch
Pharyngeal teeth - teeth located behind the gills and before the oesophagus, and anchored in bone
Pike - species of fish Latin name Esox Lucius  see Pike
Pinkie - The Pinkie is like a miniature maggot, the pupae of the small green bottle. Pinkish in colour, the pinkie is a good alternative bait when fish are shy in biting. see Pinkie
Piscator - one who fishes, an angler.
Piscatory, Piscatorial - of or pertaining to fishes or fishing.
Piscatrix (USA) - a female angler
Plankton - minute floating forms of microscopic plants and animals in water which cannot get about to any extent under their own power. Plankton form the important beginnings of food chains for larger animals
Putcheon / Putcher (USA) - a wire trap for catching salmon
PVA - Poly Vinyl Alcohol - a thin material which dissolves in water
PVA bag - a small bag made from PVA used to hold bait particles and or fishing rig when casting.
PVA string - string made from PVA used in tying rig sections together for casting.
PVA tape - tape made from PVA used in tying rig sections together for casting.
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Rod - the instrument used to cast the bait. There are many types of fishing rods - leger rods,  fly rods, casting rods, spinning rods, beachcasters, boat rods
Rod rest - pole that can be driven into the ground, with a V shape at one end to rest the rod, can have several V's so you can fish with more than one rod at one time
Rod ring - rod rings are the rings along a fishing rod that the line runs through
Roe - the eggs of fishes
Spade end - refers to hooks, instead of an eye to which the fishing line is tied, spade end hooks have the end where the eye normally is flattened and the line is tied round this either by hand or the use of a hook tier
Spawn - the eggs of fish
Spawning - the release or deposition of spermatozoa or ova, of which some will fertilize or be fertilized to produce offspring; fish reproduction process characterized by females and males depositing eggs and sperm into the water simultaneously or in succession so as to fertilize the eggs.
Specimen - this is a term given to any fish that is a particularly good size for its species
Spin - fish with spinners or lures
Spinner (lure) - a lure can be metallic or plastic in the shape of a fish and shiny to attract fish, used with a spinning rod and fast retrieval reel. A lure that spins in the water and is usually used for catching predator or game fish such as Pike,  chub and salmon
Spinning rods - rod designed to specifically assist with the spinning lure
Split cane rod - an old-fashioned bamboo rod made by gluing together long strips of cane in hexagonal fashion. The cross-section of a split cane rod would look like a pie cut into six slices, though the periphery is six-sided or eight-sided
Split shot - also called  shot is round balls of lead or metal (depending on the size) with a split (cut) halfway through. Line is placed in the cut and the shot squeezed together to close the cut, holding the shot on the line. Used to balance the float in the water or to stop the leger from sliding down the line to the hook
Spod - used a lot by carper's for baiting up a spod is a 'rocket' shaped plastic tube closed at the pointed end. A powerful rod with strong line should be used for casting the spod. The spod is tied to the main line, filled with bait such as particles or pellets and cast out into the area to be fished. When the filled spod hits the water it will turn upside down allowing the bait to empty out. see Fishing the Spod
Spool - the part of the reel that the line is wound round and stored
Spoon - metallic lure in the shape of a table spoon. Used in spinning
Sportfisherman (USA) - angler who fishes from a motorboat equipped for sportfishing
Styls - are used by pole anglers instead of using split shot. They are made of lead or other metals and are very thin cylindrical shaped with a split (cut) halfway through along the long side. Styls are placed on the line in a similar manner as split shot (the line is placed in the cut and the cut squeezed together hold the styl in position on the line). They are used to balance float rig rigs and are often used when setting up a light float rig for fishing on canals and are also good when fishing for roach or rudd on the drop. Being a different shape, styls are also a good choice when fishing with hemp because they help to cut down shot bites (fish mistaking a piece of split shot for a piece of hemp).
Squid - a marine cephalopod used as bait in sea fishing, can also be cooked and eaten
Stick float - a float that is used in river fishing (or running water) and is attached to the line using a float rubber at the top and bottom. Tip: use an extra float rubber in the middle as well and if one of the rubbers break ie when adjusting the float up or down the line, then the extra rubber can be moved into its place this saves time having to set up again
Stocking - the practice of releasing artificially reared fry or fingerlings into ponds, reservoirs, or open waters. Stream - a body of running water.
Strike - this is when a fisherman gets a bite from a fish and he lifts his rod from a forward position, in an arc upwards and backwards in an attempt to set the hook into a fish
Steelhead - (USA) a salmon that is born in freshwater streams and migrates to the sea or large lake, then comes back to spawn
Sunglasses - to protect your eyes and help you see those fish. Polarised are preferred
Surf - of the sea, braking waves close to the shore
Surfcaster - one who fishes from the shore by casting into the surf
Swim - part of the river or lake fished by the angler
Swim bladder - a tough-walled gas-filled sac lying in the upper part of the body cavity of many bony fishes just beneath the vertebral column; its principal function is to offset the weight of heavier tissue such as bone. In some fishes used for sound production or respiration.
Swimfeeder - swimfeeder is an easy way of getting the feed near the fish. A swimfeeder is a weighted frame around which you pack the groundbait into a solid ball or a small hollow tube into which you pack your groundbait. It is attached to the line near the hook and when cast out the groundbait empties and is in the vicinity of your hook
Swing tip - a bite indicator (similar to a piece of cane with an eye on the end) fixed to the tip of the rod which hangs down vertically and has the line threaded through the eye.  The swing tip is not used as much these days due to the arrival of buzzers and electronic bite indicators. The swing tip is used on stillwaters and indicates a bite by rising up when the line is pulled by a fish. Can be very sensitive and on its day can out do new electronic bite alarms
Swivel - swivels join lines where there is a tendency for the line to twist when it is in the water or being retrieved. Swivels can be two way or three way and barrel or a stronger ball-bearing type
Swoffer (USA) one who engages in Swoffing, the sport of saltwater fly fishing
Swoffing - (USA) the sport of saltwater fly-fishing
Syndicate - similar to Club - a group of anglers who each pay a sum of money annually enabling them exclusive fishing rights to a water
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Taper - the part of the fly line that gradually decreases in diameter to the hook
Tapered leader - leader that tapers from the thicker to the thinner line, the thinner end is attached to the fly or lure
Tench - Latin name Tinca Tinca - species of fish, see  Tench
Freshwater fish - a term used for fish living in waters such as rivers and lakes as opposed to saltwater fish that live in the sea
Fry - a 'baby' fish. Fish in the early stages of development. In trout or salmon it is during this stage the fry is usually less than one year old, has absorbed its yolk sac and is between the alevin and parr stage of development.
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Test curve - the test curve is the weight needed to make the tip of a rod bend 90 degrees from the rod butt. Each rod has a test curve with those being used for specimen fish such as carp having a greater test curve than a general coarse rod
Thermocline - the distinct interface between surface waters and cooler, deeper waters; region below the surface layer of the sea or lake, where temperature declines abruptly with increasing depth.
Tide - The rise and falling of seas, oceans and some rivers. The movement of the oceans caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun
Tight lines - anglers saying meaning good luck
Terminal tackle - the end gear of the fishing line such as the hook, weights, swivels
Trace - part of the set up made up of the line and hook attached together
Treble hook - this is mainly used by pike anglers or when predator fishing. It looks like three hooks, two with the eye removed, the shanks welded together back to back, with the gapes at 120 degree angle to each other. These can be barbed or barbless. If barbed use a pair of pliers and crush the barbs to help protect the fish being damaged in the removal.
Tributary - a creek, stream, or river that feeds a larger stream or river or lake
Troll - to tow a lure or bait behind a moving boat
Trolling - towing a lure or bait behind a moving boat
Trotting - allowing a float to travel at the speed of the current when fishing on rivers or on running waters. Long trotting is allowing the float and baited hook to travel quite a distance downstream.
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Waders - waterproof boots worn to keep the angler dry, can be chest high, or waist high
Wading - to stand in or transverse a river or stream on foot; most commonly done in shallower waterways
Watercraft - a term for how an angler reads the water and conditions to find a good location for catching fish.
Wels Catfish - species of fish see Wels Catfish
Wet fly - a fly pattern that is used by fly fishermen to imitate creatures below the surface of the water
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Yearling - a one year old fish
Yolk Sac - in embryos and early fish larvae, a bag-like ventral extension of the gut containing nutrive materials that nourishes the growing fish until it is able to feed itself.
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Ray - this has two meanings, one is the name of a species of sea fish the other meaning is one of the supports of a fishes fin
Redworm - worm used as a fishing bait. Normally found in manure heaps the redworm has been the hook bait choice of anglers for generations!
Reel - an instrument that holds the fishing line. Used in conjunction with a rod it is attached to the handle of the rod and is used to cast and retrieve the fishing line
Bung - this is a small conical piece of plastic with an attachment at the end that elastic can be tied to. The bung fits inside a section of a pole, usually the second or third section and the elastic is tied to this thus anchoring it
Butt - the butt is end of the handle section of a rod
Butt pad -  a cup type pad on a belt worn around the midriff that protects the holder from the butt of the rod whilst fighting fish
Buzzers - Electronic bite indication alarms used mainly by carp fishermen
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Dropper - the secondary fly tied on the leader somewhere between the lead fly and the fly line: also, in coarse fishing, small shot (weight placed near the hook when float fishing)
Drop Shot Fishing - a technique of fishing, similar to spinning and jigging with a lure or baited hook, predominantly for Perch. see Drop Shot Fishing
Gear ratio - retrieve speed of reel determines how much line is reeled in one revolution of the reel's handle
Gill rakers - a series of projections located along the front edge of the gill arch
Gills - the fleshy and highly vascular organs comparable to lungs used in aquatic respiration
Good’un - slang, a large fish
Gaff - steel hook of varying sizes, mounted on a pole or stick, used for hooking and lifting into a boat a caught fish. NOTE:
National byelaw for England and Wales. The use of a gaff is prohibited at all times when fishing for salmon, trout, freshwater fish or freshwater eels in England and Wales.
Game fish - pertaining to salmon and trout or fish caught for sport particularly ocean fish such as sharks
Garcia Mitchell - reel manufacturers
Gar - a freshwater fish with thin elongated body and beak like mouth full of teeth
Hackle - the series of extended fibres right behind the eye of a fly. The hackle is what allows a dry fly to float
Hair Rig - mainly used in carp angling this is a method of attaching bait where the bait is threaded onto a short thin section of line which hangs from the back or bottom of the hook.
Hardy Brothers - rod and reel manufacturers
Hemp - see Hemp seed a very popular small black seed used as a particle bait, or crushed and used in groundbait. Extremely effective when used in conjunction with Tares for catching roach. It is prepared by soaking and boiling.
HNV - High Nutritional Value; a term used to describe baits especially boilies
Hook - see Hook - a curved (U shaped) section of strong wire sharpened at one end and tied to fishing line the other. either barbed or barbless for catching fish.
Hooklength - also known as Hook link - a hook attached to a length of line, usually of lower breaking strain. In sea fishing a hooklength and hook combined form a trace
Hook link - (hook-link) a short length of line tied to a hook, usually of lower breaking strain, tied to the end of the mainline or attached by way of a swivel or some other means. The purpose of using a hook link is line will always break at the weakest point and this should be the hook length. If the hook is tied direct to the mainline the break could occur anywhere between the rod tip and hook, if a fish is hooked and breaks free this could in theory leave the fish to swim about with yards of line attached to it.
Hook shank - the top of the long section of a hook
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Jerk bait - a jerk bait is a lure that floats and when you jerk it, it dives underwater.
Jig - a fishing lure that is jerked to attract the fish, normally used from a boat
Jigging - the sporadic up and down movement of the rod to imitate natural movement of a lure
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Ichthyology - the scientific study of fishes
IGFA - international game fish federation, the headquarters are in Florida USA, and sets standards for fishing tackle and keeps a list of record fish
Incubation - the period of time from egg fertilization until hatching
Inshore fishing - fishing in a boat that is close to shore
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Keep net - net used to keep fish alive to be returned after the end of the fishing session
Kelt - a salmon that has spawned recently
Knots - to tie anything you need a knot. To connect a hook to line a knot is tied
Krill - very small abundant crustaceans that form an important part of the food chain in Antarctic waters. Used in commercial groundbaits
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Landing net - net with a long handle to retrieve the fish once brought to the bank
Lateral line - series of sensory pores opening to the exterior located along the side of fish
Larva - refers to the subsurface stage of development of an aquatic insect
Leader - used in fly fishing - A leader is a wire or real strong fishing line that goes on the end of your line. there are two types - the tapered link between the fly and the fly line. A leader is a wire or real strong fishing line that goes on the end of your line. You tie one end to your fishing line and the other end to your lure. This makes sure that fish with sharp teeth such as pike or zander or fins won't cut your line.
Ledger / Leger - a weight used in fishing
Ledgering / Legering - to fish without a float using a heavy weight to keep the bait on the river bed / bottom of the lake - see Fishing the Leger
Lever drag - a type of drag system on a reel, adjusted by a lever on the side of the reel
Lift bite - this is when a fish takes the baited hook from the river or lake bed and the float rises out of the water
Line - Fishing line comes in many forms and strengths, Monofilament, Fluorocarbon and Braid. The most common being monofilament line made from nylon. When fishing, anglers should use as light a line as possible to prevent detection by the fish, while still ensuring that it is heavy enough to prevent breakage. Line should always be disposed of sensibly to prevent wildlife becoming caught up in it
Back shot - back shot can be the piece of shot placed up the line behind a sliding leger or feeder or is a piece of shot placed on the line behind a float to help keep it steady in windy conditions. The piece of shot is placed about a foot away from the float tip and is usually a piece of shot from the float rig so it doesn't sink
Back cast - the casting of line in a direction opposite to the direction the fly is intended to go. The backward counterpart of the forward cast which acts to create a bending action on the fly rod, setting up the conditions to generate the forward cast and present the fly.
Vegetation - fishermen refer to any underwater plant as vegetation
Ventral fin - the fin located on the front of a fish's abdomen.
Vertebra - an individual segment of the backbone of a fish.
Vertebrate - a creature that has a backbone, for instance a fish or a mammal.
Vice - used for fly tying, the hook is gripped in the vice and then the fly is built up
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Lobworm - worm used as a fishing bait. These are the large worms with the flat tail that are found in our gardens
Loosefeed - small offerings of hook bait such as maggots or sweetcorn which are thrown into the water to keep the fish interested in the area you are fishing
Lug worm - one of the best baits for saltwater fish such as cod, plaice, bass etc. Lugworm are dug at low tide and are easily spotted by the worm cast on the surface of the sand or mud. The lugworm burrows in the sand in a U shape tunnel. There is the worm cast and a few inches away a small depression in the sand, this is the ends of the U shape tunnel. Dig to the side of this to collect the lugworm
Lures - artificial devise to imitate insects, small fish, animals to attract fish
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Quill Float - a float made from the quill of peacock feathers. Not used as much nowadays
Quiver tip - special type of rod used to detect bites when ledgering. It has a sensitive tip that curves over when the angler has a bite. Quiver tips vary in strength and stiffness which can be changed according to the weather conditions
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Reel seat - for attaching a reel to the rod, this could be done with a secure slot and a screw ring, or by two sliding rings
Reproduce - to produce offspring
Reservoir - an artificial water body, normally used for drinking water supply, and which may also be stocked with fish.
Re-stocking - the practice of releasing artificially reared fry or fingerlings into ponds, reservoirs, or open waters
Rig - the end gear or terminal tackle
Rise -a fish breaking the surface of the water to take an insect
River - a natural flow of water of considerable volume.
Riverbank - the bank or banks of a river.
Riverbed - the area / channel between the banks through which a river flows.
Roach - species of fish see Roach
Rudd - species of fish see Rudd
Ruffe - species of fish, see Ruffe
Run - this has three meanings, the hooked fish making a dash for freedom away from the angler, could also mean a stretch of water or a group of fish of the same species, such as salmon, that migrate together up a stream to spawn. The run is usually associated with the seasons, e.g. spring, summer, and winter runs
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Salmon - species of fish - game fish
Salmonid - fish of the family Salmonidae that includes salmon and steelhead
Salter spring balance - scales used by anglers to weigh their catch
Seat box - seat boxes are boxes made to hold all of your tackle and can also be used to sit on while fishing
Setting a hook - striking at a bite to set the hook into the fish's mouth
Shakespeare - fishing tackle manufacture
Shimano - fishing tackle manufacture
Shoal - a group of fish swimming together
Shot - also called split shot - round balls of lead or metal (depending on the size) with a split (cut) halfway through. Line is place in the cut and the shot squeezed together to close the cut, holding the shot on the line. Used to balance the float in the water or to stop the leger from sliding down the line to the hook
Silt - substrate particles smaller than sand and larger than clay
Silver Bream - species of fish, see Silver Bream
Sinker - term referring to both leads and sinking baits
Sinking fly line - fly line made from material that sinks below the water surface
Skimmer - term referring to a small bream, generally under 1lb 8oz
Slack tide - the short period between the ebb and flood tides when the current is at its weakest
Smolt - a young salmon that is ready to migrate
Snag - rocky or uneven bed that can snare your hook and line
Sportfishing - (USA) fishing for sport
Spring tide - tide with the largest difference between the high and low level water. Happens around the time of the new and full moon
Squat - The Squat is the larvae of the little house fly and used almost entirely in groundbait. Can also be used as a hook bait on wire hooks and light fishing tackle.
Tackle - refers to any fishing equipment
Tackle box - a container that houses your tackle to be transported to the fishing venue
Tagging - Marking, or attaching a tag to fish, so that it or they can be identified on recapture.
Tailer (fish tailer) - used instead of a landing net. A small pole a couple of foot (60cm) long that can be held in the hand. On the end is a piece of thin cable approximately 12 inches (30cm) long in the form of a sliding loop. This wraps around the fish's tail and tightens while lifting the fish from the water.
Zander - species of fish see Zander
Zebco - reel manufacturers
Zooplankton - small aquatic animals that are suspended or swimming in water
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Dictionary of Fishing Words
Thanks to Contributors:
John - from Bedford UK
Karl - from Utah USA
Louise - from Kerry Ireland
Peter - from London UK
Mark - from Lincolnshire UK
Steve - from Essex UK
If you would like to add a word to this page
please email, with short description to
Crucian Carp - species of fish, see Crucian Carp
Crystal waggler - crystal waggler is the name for a float that has been made out of transparent plastic.
Cut - a narrow body of water. A Cut is also another name for a canal
Current - the natural flow of water in a river or sea
Cycloid scales - smooth, flat, round scales that have concentric lines called circuli, found on trout and other fish
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Abu Garcia - reel manufacturers
Action - description of the flexibility of a rod. Rods have a fast or slow action. Fast action rods are generally stiffer overall but bend more at the tip. These are often used in feeder fishing. Slow action rods are more flexible with some flexing their entire length. These are mainly float fishing rods.
Adipose fin - a small fleshy fin with no rays, located between the dorsal and caudal fins
Fish-uk logo
Bread punch - a bread punch is a small tube type device. There are many different sizes of bread punches for different hook sizes. The bread punch is pushed down onto a slice of fresh bread and a bit of bread is cut out. This bit of bread is placed onto the hook as hookbait. Bread punch is a great bait for all fish but especially roach
Breaking strain - this is the measurement of line strength. The point at which the fishing line breaks is the breaking strain, the 'dead' weight needed to break a line usually stated in pounds (lb) or kilograms (kg). The age of the line or knots in the line can lower this measurement so its a good idea to change your line regularly
Bream - species of freshwater fish, see Bream
Gozzer - The Gozzer is a home bred maggot that is super soft and pure white. Generally only used as a hookbait.
Grayling - species of fish. see Grayling
Grilse - a young Atlantic salmon that has returned to the river from the sea to spawn for the first time
Grinner Knot - a very strong knot often used in rig tying
Groundbait - groundbait is a mixture consisting of a fine bread crumb base with other ingredients such as crushed hemp and flavourings. Hookbait can be added as an extra attractant. The groundbait is intended to be thrown into the water to attract fish.
Gudgeon - species of fish see Gudgeon
Guide - a person who accompanies an angler, showing him where and how to catch fish
Guides - the wire loops on a fly rod through which the line is passed that directs the line to the tip
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Line clip - this is a small clip on the side of the spool on a fixed spool reel to which  your fishing line can be placed to retain it. This is often used for accuracy when fishing at a fixed distance. After casting the line is clipped in place and then each time you cast you reach the same target.
Line bite - when a fish swims into or catches your fishing line
Line drier - a devise used by fly fishermen to strip the reel of line and then dry the line before replacing
Line Guides - the eyelets or rings on a rod through which fishing line is passed
Live bait - live bait as the term suggests is a fish that is alive when you put it on your hook, such as roach, and used for predator fishing for pike or zander
Match fishing - a competitive form of coarse fishing which involves people drawing out a random peg (a place to fish), and then trying catch as many fish as possible within the allotted time. Usually the winner will be the one with the greatest weight of fish caught
Mayfly - a species of aquatic insect with upright wings in the shape of a sail that are food for a variety of fish
Method - the Method is a style of feeder fishing. It consists of a frame feeder covered with groundbait, fished with a short hook length up to 6 inches
Mono - short for monofilament
Monofilament - a man made nylon line
Multiplier reel - a reel with a revolving spool, which multiplies leverage on the line as it's winched in. Mainly used by sea anglers
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Neap tide - the tide with the least difference or movement, between the high and low water, happens during the first and last quarter of the moon
Nets - generally refers to Keep-nets
Nymph - an aquatic insect during its immature stage of development while underneath the surface of the water
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Parr - a stage of development in the life of a salmon and trout between alevin and smolt when the young have developed parr marks and are actively feeding in fresh water
Particles, Particle Baits - Particle baits consist of practically all beans, peas, nuts, seeds and pulses such as hemp, tares, maize, tiger nuts etc. Particles are generally used in groundbait for pre-baiting, spodding. Can also be used as a hookbait.
Paternoster - This is a short line with a hook on that is attached to the mainline. Paternoster rigs can be fixed or running on the mainline. In sea fishing more than one paternoster is usually attached to the main line at intervals
Pectoral fins - the anterior (front) paired fins attached to pectoral (shoulder) girdle
Peg - a peg is a pre defined fishing area. Venues are split up into evenly spaced fishing areas which are often marked with a wooden peg or marker. Each angler fishes his own area while staying at his peg.
Pelvic fins - posterior paired fins located in the abdominal position or towards the rear
Penn - reel and other fishing tackle manufacturers
Pennell - reel manufacturers
Plug - fishing lure. a plastic or wooden imitation of a small fish with hooks attached used for catching predator fish.
Plumbing up / Plumb the depth - using a weight or plummet attached to your fishing line to check the depth of water you will be fishing  see Plumb the Depth
Plummet - a weight that an angler attaches to their fishing line when setting up. Used to check the depth of the water this can either be a small conical weight with cork fixed at the bottom or a clip on type. see Plumb the Depth
Playing - Playing a fish - keeping the line tight without it breaking when a fish is hooked. If the fish pulls hard let it take line. The art of trying to tire the fish so that it can be landed
Plummet - a weight that an angler attaches to his / her fishing line and used to check the depth of the water. This can either be a small conical weight with cork fixed at the bottom or a clip on type. see Plumb the Depth
Pod - a folding stand on which a number of carp rods are placed. Easier and neater than using banksticks.
Pole - similar to a rod but minus the eyes and reel seat. Comes in different lengths
Pole fishing - specialised method that utilises a pole with line and hook attached, without a reel
Pond - a body of water smaller than a lake often artificially formed
Pop-Up - usually refers to boilies which when fished as bait will float or pop up off of the bottom of the lake bed
Predator - an animal that hunts and kills another for food such as pike and zander
Predation - hunting and killing another animal for food
Priest - used to administer the last rites to the captured fish. They used to be made of stag horn, aluminium and mahogany and had a lead weight in the head
Pumping - a technique used when fighting a heavy large fish. i.e. on a boat to retrieve a fish, you lift the rod and wind in the line as you lower the rod, then do it again and again until the fish surfaces
Pupae - the immature stage of development for an aquatic insect