Fishing Terms

Fishing is even more fun when you know the lingo. Study up on your fishing vocabulary and you’ll sound like you’ve been hooked into the world of angling for years.

Bait: A natural substance such as meat, worms, insects, corn, cheese, small fish or parts of fish that is put on a hook or lure to attract fish. Research shows that fish caught on baited hooks more often die after release than fish caught on un-baited hooks.
Barbless Hooks: Hooks without projecting barbs or on which the barbs are pressed against the shaft so as not to be functional. Barbless hooks make it easier to release fish. It is unlawful to use a hook that is not a barbless hook.
Braided Line: Heavy, limp line made of several strands of nylon or Dacron. Best for catching big fish.
Breaking Strength: The amount of weight a line can handle without breaking. For example, 10 pounds test breaks at 10 pounds of pull.
Drifting: A method of fishing where you allow your boat to drift in the wind.
Fish: A cold-blooded vertebrate (has a spinal column) that lives in water, has fins, breathes through gills and is usually covered in scales. In Alberta there are 59 species of fish.
Fish Stocking: Fish stocking is the practice of raising fish in a hatchery and releasing them into a water body to supplement existing populations, or to create a population where none exists. Stocking may be done for the benefit of recreational fishing or to restore or increase a population of threatened or endangered fish in a body of water.
Floats and Bobbers: Floating devices used to control the depth of bait in the water.
Flies: Lures made from fur, hair, feathers, wool, tinsel or other synthetics, tied around a hook and designed to resemble insects, larvae or minnows. There are four types of fly: dry flies, wet flies, nymphs and streamers.
Fly Lines: Line used in fly fishing, where it is the line, not the lure, that is cast.
Game Fish: Fish that are caught for sporting purposes.
Jigging: Moving your bait up and down in frequent motions.
Jigs: Lures that have a weighted head, a solid, fixed hook, and fur, feather or plastic body/tail -- designed to sink in water.
Landing a Fish: The act of getting a fish into a boat or onto the shore.
Lures: Artificial bait made to look like natural (live) bait, something a fish would eat. There are several classes of lure and that can be combined in various ways: flies, spoons, spinners, plugs and jigs.
Monofilament Line: A clear or coloured line made of one continuous fibre.
Plugs: Lures made out of wood, plastic or rubber designed to imitate small minnows, fish, frogs, bugs, small crustaceans or small animals. There are two types: floating and sinking.
Reels: The basic function of any reel is to store line and retrieve it once it has been cast.
Scaler: A tool for removing the scales of a fish before cooking.
Setting the Hook: The action of lifting your rod straight up, firmly, when you feel a tug on the line.
Sinkers: Weights used to sink lures down to a desired depth.
Snap swivels: A safety-pin like device that makes it easier to change lures.
Spawning: Fish reproduce by laying eggs (spawning). Some fish spawn in spring and some in fall.
Spoon: Lures shaped like a spoon to resemble small fish.
Spinner: Lures that have a thin blade that revolves or spins around a wire shaft. Attracts fish by flash and vibration.
Still-fishing A method of fishing where you anchor your boat.
Structure: A shoreline, stump, log, rock pile, dock or floating object that fish will use for shade and protection.
Tackle Boxes: Boxes designed specifically for carrying and storing fishing equipment.
Terminal tackle: The equipment that goes on the end of your line before you add the lure or bait.
Trolling: A method of fishing where you drag a lure behind a boat.
Winter Kill: Describes the phenomenon where all fish in a lake die during winter because there is a lack of dissolved oxygen in the water.

Works Referenced to Create this Page

Alberta Fishing Education Program (3rd ed., 1996), published by Alberta Environmental Protection. To order your free copy of this publication, go to:

AEP Information Centre 
Enter the title into Search Resources field and then follow the instructions to complete the order form.

Catch Fishing! Your Basic “How To” Guide to Fishing in Canada (4th ed., 2008) by Rick Armsbury, published by the Canadian National Sportfishing Foundation. This publication includes a wealth of fishing information and is available for download:

Updated: Jun 28, 2022