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Guide to Angler Jargon

Imagine this scenario: you want to get into fishing, and you’ve tried a few times to engage your angler buddies or family members in conversation about the sport. There’s just one problem: when you enter into these conversation, it’s like the people you are talking to are speaking a foreign language. They’re dropping one piece of fishing jargon after another, and you haven’t the foggiest idea of what it all means. You imagine yourself, as if in a movie, backing away slowly from the conversation and never bringing up fishing again, just to save face.

If you’ve experienced this kind of situation, you aren’t the only one. Anglers really do talk with their own lexicon, and it can all be terribly confusing and overwhelming for a newcomer. But here’s the thing: with just a bit of research and a few days spent on the fishing pond, you won’t be confused anymore. In fact, you’ll be speaking the language and scaring away beginners yourself. It’s a quick transformation, and with our guide to some of the most common angler jargon, it should be able to become even faster.

Baiting Terms: A lot of the terminology that is most confusing to fishing outsiders concerns baiting methods. You already know the “hook, line, and sinker” mantra, but there’s so much more, from bobbers to blades, rigging techniques to different types of knots, and baitfish species to lure types. If you are serious about fishing, you will want to either look up baiting terms online, or purchase a book that covers them – preferably with photographs – in fine detail.


“Breakline” can be a confusing term, largely because many first-time anglers assume it refers in some way to the fishing line actually being used to bait the fist. In actuality, a breakline refers to the lake, pond, ocean, or other water spot being fished. When a fisherman says he’s past the breakline, that means he has witnessed a sudden change in water feature. Usually, it indicates a drop-off or an otherwise dramatic depth change. However, “breakline” can also refer to the boundary between two different bottom types (i.e., sand and rocks to seaweed) or overall water clarity (i.e., clear to foggy). In most cases, a breakline will change the fishing game.

“Monofilament” or “Braided”

In a conversation with anglers, you will often hear these one-word descriptions tossed out repeatedly to refer to an angler’s choice fishing line. Monofilament is thin and clear, while braided is generally tougher, thicker, and stronger. Monofilament is used most frequently for freshwater fishing, while saltwater fishing often demands the extra strength of braided lines.


Sounds more like a shark than a popular game fish, but “steelhead” is actually a term used to describe a specific type of rainbow trout. Steelhead generally live half of their lives in freshwater and half of their lives in saltwater.


No, this term does not refer to a bizarre shedding of clothing that anglers do when out on their boats. On the contrary, in the fishing world, “stripping” is actually a fly-fishing technique that involves reeling in a line with a mixed variety of short, sporadic pulls. The movement is meant to mimic insects or bait fish and attract game fish in the process.

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Guide to Angler Jargon