|  First Published: December 2006

For anglers new to the sport of gamefishing there are a lot of new terms, abbreviated names and bizarre sayings that are often used by other anglers during a discussion or a day on the water.

For this reason I have listed a few of them and their meanings. Once you know what fellow anglers are talking about you will better understand their successful tactics and will definitely pick up a few hints to get you on the road to success.


Anode tape: Adhesive zinc tape that is stuck to hooks to eliminate electrolysis during trolling, a reaction that can make hooks brittle and prone to rust.

All Tackle Record: A record kept by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) for the largest of a species caught under their rules.

AFTCO: American Fishing Tackle Company, which manufacture high quality rod fittings including bent-butts, mini bent-butts and roller guides.


Billfish: The collective name given to a group of fish with bills that includes various species of marlin, sailfish, spearfish and swordfish.

Bibless lure: A minnow shaped lure without a bib that can usually be trolled at speeds to 15 knots.

Ballyhoo: Another name for a garfish in the United States, and many other countries.

Bibbed minnow: A fish shaped lure that has a bib at the front to make it dive.

Ball-bearing swivel: A high quality swivel that can be added to your rig to eliminate line twist while trolling.

Bent-butt: A rod with a curved butt, usually formed from aluminium, which can be detached from the rod for storage. These rods are used when fishing out of a game chair.

Backing down: Reversing a boat for the purpose of chasing a hooked fish.

Belly: The section of line that is dragged through the water when a hooked fish and boat are travelling in a similar direction with a lot of line still in the water.


Circle hook: A name given to a group of hooks with points turned in towards the shank. These hooks will set in the corner of the mouth when used properly and rarely come out.

Crimp: A small metal sleeve that is used instead of a knot to secure heavier monofilament.

Crimping: The method of crushing a crimp to enable it to secure heavier monofilament.

Chair rod: A game rod of around 2m or more with a bent butt on it designed for fighting fish with from a game chair. For heavy-tackle fishing only.


Downrigger: A device used to get your line down deeper by using a special reel that has depth counter, wire and lead ball with peg style release clip.

Downstroke: The lowering of the rod whilst fighting a fish.

Drag: The tensioning device on the reel that slows the rate of line released.

Double: The doubled section of main line that is usually produced using knots such as a spider hitch, bimini twist or a plait. This double is then attached to your leader.

Donger: A club used to hit a fish with to pacify or kill it.

Dacron: A tubular braided line used for splicing monofilament leaders and as backing for heavy tackle gamefishing.

Drop-straps: Straps that allow your gimbal belt to be hung below your waist to lower your centre of gravity when fighting a fish. Used mainly for heavy tackle stand-up fishing.

Deckie: The person doing all the work on the deck such as rigging baits, sharpening hooks, checking drags, gaffing and tagging fish, but usually not fishing themselves.


Electrolysis: The reaction that occurs when saltwater and metal combine to produce an electrical current. Electrolysis causes chemically sharpened hooks to become brittle and rust. Adding anode tape to the hook will prevent electrolysis.


Flyer: The shortened name given to a flying gaff, a gaff hook with rope attached that detaches from the pole handle after it is set in a fish. Used for large fish and sharks.

Flat-lining: The technique of using rubber bands or a flatline clip to decrease the trolled line’s angle in relation to the water. This enables trolled lures to swim better, especially at high speed.

Free-spool: When the drag lever is pulled all the way back so there is no tension on the line.

Free-jumper: When a fish, usually a billfish, is seen jumping from the surface as it feeds or plays.

Fighting chair: A special chair attached to the rear deck of a boat for the purposes of fighting fish from.

Flat-line clip: A wide peg-style clip used to hold line.


Gaff: A handle with a heavy-duty hook affixed to the end, which is used to secure a fish once it is close to the boat. Often referred to as a fixed-head gaff or a fixed gaff.

Garfish: A long slender fish that is a favourite for rigging as a swim bait or skip bait.

Gimbal butt: A butt cap with a slotted cross in it, that is fixed to the bottom of a game rod so it to fits securely in a gimbal belt or rod holder.

Gimbal belt: A belt and pad arrangement with a horizontal pin that a gimbal-butt fits into to make fighting fish easier. Worn around an angler’s waist.


High-speed lure: A lure that can be trolled in excess of 10 knots, usually a bibless minnow or weighted-head skirted lure.

Hook-set: The angle of the hooks in a skirted lure rig. Usually they are 30, 45, 60, 90 or 180 apart from each other.


Inboard: A motor that is inside the boat with the motor leg or drive shaft protruding through the hull instead of the separate outboard motor. Usually only seen on boats over 7m. Allows boats to be backed for long periods without overheating.


Jinkai: A brand of leader material that is popular with gamefishers.


Kidney belt: A type of harness that wraps around the kidney area and has straps which fit onto your reel and help to take tension off your arms during a prolonged fight.


Lever-drag: A type of reel where variable drag settings can be used but has a preset maximum drag pressure.

Leader: A heavier section of monofilament or wire which is used between the bait/lure and the main line to prevent the main line being chaffed or bitten through.

Line-twist: When your main line gets twisted, usually due to a bait or lure spinning when it is being trolled.

Lure-roll: A canvas or mesh bag with numerous pockets which lures can be stored in. When not in use it can be rolled up for storage.

Looker: When a fish comes up to the lure spread but does not strike any of them.

Long rigger: The longer of your two lines run from the outriggers.

Long flat: The longer of your lines run from the forward rod holders but not spread with an outrigger.

Long corner: The longer of your two lines run from the transom corners.


Mirrored teaser: A teaser with mirrors on it designed to put flashes of light into the water to make the whitewater behind the boat look like a bait school.

Mini bent-butt: A rod with a short bent-butt that can be used from a chair or in a stand-up fighting position.

Mahi-mahi: another name for a dolphinfish.


Needle: Long stainless steel piece of wire used to stitch up baits and for general rigging.

Noah: A slang name used by fishers for a shark.


Outrigger: A long pole (usually fibreglass), that attaches to the side of the boat and has a release clip for the purpose of getting the lures spread out wider whilst trolling.

Overhead: A drum shaped reel that is designed to attach to the top-side of the rod.

On-strike: A person is said to be on-strike when they are the next one scheduled to fight a fish that strikes the lures when trolling.


Pelagic: The name given to a large group of predatory fish that predominately feed in the upper layer of the water column.

Pretest: A type of line which is guaranteed to break below the stated breaking strain and can therefore be used for tournament fishing and record claims.

Pusher: A colloquial name given to any lures that push water as they are trolled.


Quick release clip: A type of clip that can be attached to outriggers, downriggers and flatlines and will release the line once a fish strikes.


Resin-head: A lure with a head made of resin (usually clear with eyes and reflective inserts) and a skirt made of vinyl, tinsel or plastic.

Rollers: The name given to roller guides, which the line runs over on heavy tackle rods.

Ratchet: The mechanism on the reel that makes a loud noise when line is being pulled from the spool by a fish.

Rigging thread: Waxed thread used for stitching up baits when rigging them to swim or skip. The wax virtually eliminates the chance of a knot coming undone.

Release clip: A clip that is designed to release the line under a certain pressure. Usually has an adjustment for different tensions.


Swim-bait: A whole fish that is rigged to swim just below the water surface like a real fish.

Skip-bait: A whole fish that is rigged to skip on the surface like a fleeing fish.

Shotgun: A lure that is run a long way behind the boat, usually from the centre of the boat.

Swaging: The method of constricting a crimp so that it secures monofilament or wire.

Short-stroker: A short and reasonably stiff rod that is designed for trolling lures and fighting gamefish. The short rod puts less pressure on the angler and more on the fish.

Spread: A term used to describe the combined positions of all the lures you are trolling.

Slimie: A slang name for a popular baitfish, the slimy mackerel.

Slick-butt: A plastic or nylon section between the reel seat and the butt that is used instead of a soft grip so that rods under load are easier to get out of the rod holder.

Saddle: The small plate and screw set-up that helps to secure the reel’s seat to the rod’s winch. Often has a spot to attach a safety lanyard.

Safety lanyard: a rope and clip set-up designed to prevent losing a rod overboard. One end attaches to a secure point on the boat and the other is attached with a quick release clip to the saddle of the reel or the lugs.

Short rigger: The shorter of your two lines run from the outriggers.

Short flat: The shorter of your lines run from the forward rod holders but not spread with an outrigger.

Short corner: The shorter of the two lines run from the transom corners.


Trolling: The method of dragging a spread of lures or rigged baits behind the boat to catch fish.

Teaser: An object that drags behind the boat and flashes and splashes to attract the attention of predatory fish.

Transom: The back of a boat.

Tip-wrap: When the main line gets twist in it, slack line will often cause it to wrap around the tip of the rod.

Tagging: When a small plastic spear with numbers on it is inserted into a fish to aid scientific research.

Tag-flag: A red flag with horizontal white T on it to indicate you have tagged a particular fish. It is usually hung below a flag with the fish species on it, generally off the outriggers and usually only during a tournament.

T and R: Tag and release.


Unweighted: What a bait is said to be if it is put into the water with no sinker added to the rig, so that it floats down slowly to the bottom.

Upstroke: The raising of the rod whilst fighting a fish.

Uzi: A popular small Pakula brand trolling lure.


Vermin: A term used by some serious gamefishers to describe undesirable or non point-scoring fish that eat their lures, such as mack tuna and striped tuna.

Vessel: Another name for a boat.

Vinyl: A material used for the skirts on many lures.


Wahoo: A species of fish a little similar to a mackerel that are commonly caught by game fishermen when trolling, especially on high-speed lures.

Wind-on-leader: A leader that can be wound through the rod tip and right down onto the reel. Usually, it has a spliced Dacron loop on one end and a snap-swivel on the other.

Witchdoctor: A brand of mirrored teaser originally made by Pakula Tackle.

Winch: The screw up hood mechanism on a rod, used to secure the reel.

Water drag: The extra tension put on line as it drags through the water under tension.

Whitewater: the turbulent water at the back the boat that is caused by the propellers.


Spot X: A name given to a spot when you are politely refusing to tell another person where you have been successfully fishing.


Yakka: The name of a small baitfish species that is common offshore.

Yellowfin: A species of tuna that are highly prized fighting fish and make great sashimi.


Zinc tape: Another name for anode tape.

Zipper: The name of a Pakula brand lure with a long thin head designed for running from the outriggers or shotgun. Many lures of other brands with similar head shapes are often commonly referred to as Zippers.

Zzzzzz: The noise you will make in your sleep after a long day on the water.

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