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Back to Basics: Essential Fishing Terminology

Welcome to the first instalment of our brand new 'Back to Basics' blog series!

'Back to Basics' is aimed at newcomers to fishing, beginners who want to learn more and those who might need a refresher! We will be sharing general information, top tips, product guides and random trivia among other things! We are starting out this week with a selection of essential terms used in the world of angling. We hope it helps you!

Let us know in the comments if you think there's any essential terms you think we've missed ...


Angling – The actual action of catching fish with a hook (angle is an old word for hook). The term is used interchangeably with ‘fishing’, although angling particularly refers to fishing for enjoyment. Contrasting with commercial fishing which is done for profit or financial gain.

Angling - fishing for pleasure

Action – How much a rod bends when placed under pressure. A rod with a fast action will only bend in the tip section and spring back quickly, often used in Feeder Fishing. Whereas a rod with a slow action which bend all the way through from the butt to the tip, are often used in Float Fishing.


Bag Limit – The maximum number of fish you can take away - often when fishing for Trout. Rules for this vary on species and local rules.

Bait - Anything used on the hook to entice and capture the fish.  Click here to see some different types of bait!

Baiting Up – The process of transferring bait to a hook.

Blank – Often used in sea fishing with two definitions. 1) A fishing rod before any attachments have been added. 2) To go fishing and not catch anything.


Catch-and-release – Catching a fish and then releasing it back into it's habit.

Coarse Fish - All freshwater fish other than salmon and trout which are known as game fish. Coarse fish generally have larger scales and tend to live in warmer and stiller waters. The term originated in the UK in the early 19th century. Recreational fishing was a sport for the Gentry who angled for salmon & trout. The gentry disdained other fish as being inferior or coarse as they were not as good to eat as game fish.

Perfect for coarse fishing

Coarse Fishing – A term used to describe freshwater fishing – in rivers, canals, lakes or ponds for species such as roach, carp, perch and pike. All different techniques of freshwater fishing such as ledgering, float fishing and fly fishing, come under this category.

Cocktail -  using two or more types of bait on a hook at the same time


De-hooking – The act of removing the hook from a caught fish.

Dry Fly - an artificial fly that floats on the water surface imitating an adult insect.

 Disgorger - a device for removing a hook, either from the mouth of the fish or deeply embedded in the throat.


Ebb Tide – The process of the out going or falling tide. The tide is described as ebbing for the entirety of the time it is going out.

Estuary - Sheltered water, where juvenile fish have excellent shelter & food for optimum growth. Often has a grass bottom or grassy shorelines.

End Tackle - The hook and lead used at the end of the main fishing line. Click on this link to see some examples from our online store.


Fish - A creature that lives in the water with fins and gills. If you don't know what a fish looks like, you are probably catching the wrong thing when you go angling!

Float – Any device that is cast out or placed in the water to float on the surface and present a bait or lure in mid-water.

Fly - an artificial imitation of insects used to attract fish. Flies can be created by hand or pre-bought and are made out of synthetic materials, feathers, fur and thread among other things. Patterns imitating minnows, bait-fish and other fish/crustacean species are also called, flies.

Foul Hooked – A fish that has been hooked through any part of its body other than its mouth.


Groundbait – Bait thrown into an area of water in order to attract fish. Widely used in freshwater fishing but also used in sea fishing when fishing for particular species such as Mullet. Click here to see some examples of groundbait.

Gut Hooked – When a fish has fully swallowed a hook and will be difficult to de-hook!


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.

Hook -  A curved (U shaped) section of strong wire sharpened at one end and tied to fishing line the other. Can be barbed or barb-less for catching fish.


Ichthyology - the scientific study of fish!



Stay tuned for the next blog in our 'Back to Basics' series which will continue our alphabetical glossary!


Do you have any burning questions about fishing? Need some advice or have a great idea for our blog series? Please say so in the comment section below.

Happy angling!