A-Z Definitions

The list below explains and defines key terms used in sea fishing. Fish species, some items of terminal tackle and bait are not listed below as they have their own sections on this website.

Click to jump to: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z


Abu GarciaAbu Garcia – A Swedish manufacturer of fishing tackle, most famously reels, but also makes highly rated rods and other equipment. Originally founded as a watch manufacturer Abu Garcia became involved in manufacturing fishing tackle in the 1930s. Now owned by Pure Fishing.

Action – The way in which a rod bends when placed under pressure. A rod with a fast action will only bend in the tip section and spring back quickly, whereas a rod with a slow action will bend all the way through from the butt to the tip.

American snap – An item of terminal tackle which consists of a barrel swivel and a link which is used to connect items of terminal tackle.

AmnesiaAmnesia – A Brand of memory-free fishing line made by the USA-based Sunset company. Amnesia is ideal for hooklengths (snoods) due to its tangle-fee nature. Amnesia is available in clear, red, black and yellow colours in breaking strains up to 50lbs.

Angling – The act of catching fish with a hook (angle is an old word for hook). Angling refers to fishing for enjoyment and contrasts with commercial fishing which is done profit or financial gain.

Angling Trust – The governing body for sea angling in England. The angling trust describes itself as “the voice of angling” and represents all course, game and sea anglers.

Angling Works – A UK manufacturer of terminal tackle, mostly hooks and swivels.


Bag limit – the maximum number of fish an angler can take away with them.

Bail arm – The arm on a fixed spool reel that wraps line around the spool when reeling in. Must be flipped over prior to casting so line can be freely released.

Bait clip – A small metal device used to clip the bait behind the lead to make it more streamlined and therefore increase casting distances.

Bait cotton/elastic – Fine, stretchy thread used to attach soft baits such as crab and mussels to a hook.

Bait needle – A long needle used to thread soft baits onto a hook.

Bait pump – A device that sucks marine worms (mostly black lugworm) from their burrows.

Baiting up – The process of transferring bait to the hook.

Barrel swivel – A somewhat old fashioned type of swivel which is still used today. So called because the central section looks like a barrel.

Bass rod – A rod which is made specifically for fishing for bass (although can be used for other species as well). Designed to be lighter, more subtle and more comfortable to hold for long periods of time than a heavier beachcaster. Typically 11-11½ ft long and cast 2-4oz.

BayBay – A naturally occurring inlet of water created by the curvature of the land. Bays often provide shelter from the weather and have significantly calmer wind and wave conditions that the surrounding open sea. Bays can be small local areas or continental areas (i.e. the Bay of Bengal).

Beachcaster – Generic term for an all-purpose rod used for fishing from the shore. Beachcasters were typically 12ft lon, came in two sections and cast 4-8oz. However, longer 14-16ft rods which come in three sections are becoming increasingly popular around the UK.

Big-game fishing – A type of boat fishing where extremely large powerful fish such as swordfish, marlin, tuna and shark are targeted. Charter boats going for blue shark and porbeagle in UK waters are classed as big game fishing.

Blank – Has two meanings in sea fishing. 1) A fishing rod before any attachments (such as rings, reel seats etc) have been added. 2) To go fishing and not catch anything.

Black fish – Fish that are caught illegally by commercial fishermen as they are not counted in quotas or official records. The Blackfish is also an old name for killer whales.

Bird's NestBird’s nest – The messy explosion of line resulting from a badly timed cast with a multiplier reel. Bird’s nests are a common occurrence with inexperienced anglers but are rare once the workings of a multiplier reel have been mastered. Modern reel technology has also reduced bird’s nests considerably.

Boat fishingBoat fishing – Any kind of fishing where the anglers are out at sea in a vessel, rather than based on the shore, encompassing everything from fishing in a dinghy a few hundred metres off shore to going out many miles from shore to seek out species such as blue shark.

Boat rod – A fishing rod designed for fishing from a vessel out at sea. Uptiding and downtiding rods are designed to cast whereas all-out boat rods are designed to drop baits or lures directly over the side of the boat and therefore have no casting ability.

Bony Fish – A classification of fish (Osteichthyes) that have skeletons made out of lots of small bones. They are subdivided into ray finned fish (of which there are many in the UK), and lobe finned fish (of which there are none in UK waters).

Bottom TrawlBottom trawling – Type of commercial fishing which drags weighted nets across the seabed to catch demersal fish which live and feed there such as cod, haddock and placie. Extremely damaging to the marine environment, with beam trawling being the most destructive type of all.

BreakersBreaker – Waves which fall over (break) as they reach the shore. Generally an offshore wind will kill the action of the sea and make the breakers smaller, whereas an onshore wind will increase the size of the breakers. If the breakers on a beach are too big fishing will be impossible.

Brackish waterBrackish water – Water with a low salt content, usually in river mouths and estuaries. Found in estuaries and other areas where rivers meet the sea. Some seafish such as mullet and flounder will happily live and feed in brackish water. Technically, brackish water contains between 0.5 and 30 grams of salt per litre.

Braid – A type of line made with multiple strands of artificial fibre. Has very little stretch compared to monofilament. Now used for casting, mostly in fixed spool reels.

Breakaway – A UK manufacturer of terminal tackle, based in Suffolk, East Anglia.

Breaking strain – The amount of weight a line can take before it snaps, given in pounds or kilograms.

BreakwaterBreakwater – Also referred to as bulkheads, a breakwater is a structure which is usually made of stone that protects land and the entrance to ports from waves, weather and tidal power. Many breakwaters around the UK can be used as fishing marks and offer anglers the chance to cast into deeper water.

Bubble FloatBubble float – A type of float designed for sea fishing. Bubble floats can be partially filled with water to provide weight for casting. Bubble floats appear to have reduced in popularity in recent years with cigar shaped floats made out of polystyrene becoming the most commonly used type of sea fishing float.

Butt section – The bottom section of a fishing rod.

BycatchBycatch – Fish or other marine creatures which are inadvertently caught by commercial fishermen. Bycatch with a commercial value will be retained, buy bycatch which has no value due to being too small, immature or a species which is not edible will be thrown overboard back into the sea dead.


Casting out – the process of moving a rod to transfer the weight and rig (complete with baited hook) from the shore and into the sea.

Catch-and-release – The process of catching fish and then releasing them back into the sea.

Centre pin reel – An old fashioned, simple fishing reel that consists of a metal or wooden spool on an axis. It will rotate as fast as the angler can turn the handle. Still used for boat fishing.

Circle HookCircle hook – A design of hook that is sharply curved so that it resembles a circle shape. Circle hooks often hook fish automatically, meaning that striking is not necessary when circle hooks are used. Circle hooks have been used by commercial long-lines for years, and are increasing in popularity amongst UK shore anglers.

Clipped down – Any kind of rig where the hooks are clipped behind the weight with a bait clip or impact shield.

CoastersCoasters – Metal devices that are tightened to attach a reel (usually a multiplier) to a rod. Coasters are adjustable and can be altered to change the position of the reel. Many modern rods have adjustable reel seats which mean that coasters are no longer necessary.

Coarse fishing – Another term for freshwater fishing.

Cocktail BaitCocktail bait – A combination of two or more baits combined together. Cocktail baits are extremely popular in UK sea fishing. Placing a small strip or mackerel or squid on the hook with a worm bait is known as ‘tipping off’ a bait and is also a form of a cocktail bait.

Commercial FishingCommercial fishing – Catching fish on a large scale to sell for profit. Commercial fishing encompasses everything from small-scale fishermen working on boats close to shore to super trawlers which have the facilities to catch, process and freeze thousands of tons of fish on board and stay out at sea for weeks.

Common Fisheries Policy – The legislation which sets the quotas for annual fish catches from each member state of the European Union.

Competition – A contest to catch the most fish, usually for a cash prize. Also known as a match. There may be separate prizes for heaviest bag of fish and biggest single fish. Can be a pegged or rover competition. Popular throughout the whole of the UK. Also called a match.

Cono-flex – A UK manufacturer of fishing rods. Based in East Sussex.

Continental Style Rod – A generic term for the long (15-18ft) fishing rods which are popular throughout Europe, particularly in Mediterranean countries. Rods based on these designed are becoming popular in the UK due to the long casting distances which can be achieved with relatively simple casts.

Cove – A small, sheltered naturally occurring inlet. Often used as a location to launch boats from.

Cox and Rawle – A manufacturer of heavy duty hooks primarily designed for boat fishing.

Crane swivel – A modern type of swivel which is smaller and yet stronger than barrel swivels. Widely used in UK sea angling today.

CrimpsCrimp – Crimps are small metal tubes that can be pressed onto place on a line to act as a stop. Usually used to trap swivels in place and made out of copper or another type of metal. Specialist crimping pliers are used to attach crimps to line, and heavier crimps are used with wire line.

Cronus – A UK supplier of fishing equipment and terminal tackle.


DaiwaDaiwa – Founded in 1958 Daiwa is a Japanese company which is one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of fishing equipment. The company also produces equipment for other sports, most notably golf. Full name of the company is the Daiwa Seiko Corporation and the headquarters are in Tokyo, Japan.

DaylightDaylights – Small artificial lures which are designed to imitate small fish and tempt larger predatory fish into attacking. Most commonly used to catch mackerel. Cheaper daylights are usually made out of flexible plastic, whereas more expensive varieties may be designed to resemble specific species of fish. Usually sold in strings of four to six .

DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) – The UK government department which is responsible for the environment, sustainability, animal welfare and the marine environment and fisheries. Previously MAFF.

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

Demersal fish – Fish that live or feed at or near the bottom of the sea.

Discards – Fish that are caught by commercial trawlers but thrown back in the sea dead or dying because the trawler has ran out of quota or the fish are too small or of a low commercial value.

DisgorgerDisgorger – A device which is used for removing the hook from the mouth of a caught fish. Gemini disgorgers are one of the most popular on the sea fishing market, although there are a wide range of other disgorgers made by a number of other companies, many of which are based on Gemini’s design.

Double patting – A speed fishing technique where rigs are baited up prior to reeling in and quickly attached and then cast out to save time and keep a bait in the water for the maximum amount of time. Used in matches.

Downtiding – A type of fishing from an anchored boat where the angler casts in the same direction as the tide is flowing.

Drag – The system built into reels that allows the reel to let out line under a given pressure. This means that line will be released before the rod is pulled into the sea, or the line is snapped by a fish. Also known as the clutch.

Drop NetDrop net – A large net that is lowered by hand to support fish when they are being reeled in from elevated positions such as pier walls. A number of different types of drop net are available and square nets are preferred to round as they do not roll along a pier wall in the tide.

Dropper – Another name for a hooklength or snood.


Eagle Claw – A US-based manufacturer of fishing gear, primarily hooks.

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

Eel – A classification of marine creature characterised by an elongated, snake-like body, a single merging dorsal/anal fin, and a smooth, scaleless body. Most eels migrate huge distances to spawn. Eels are in the same class Actinopterygii and the family Anguilliformes. The two most common types of eel in the UK are the silver eel and the conger eel.


Factory ShipFactory Ship – A very large commercial fishing vessel that has the size, equipment and power to not only catch fish but also process and freeze them on board on an industrial scale. The largest factory vessels are over 100 metres long and can catch several hundred tons every 24-hours.

Feathers – A type of lure made by attaching dyed or natural feathers to a hook. Also used as a generic term for any type of small lure.

Filter FeedingFilter Feeders – A fish which feeds by taking water in its mouth and processing it through its gills to remove plankton, krill and minute sea creatures, which it then feeds on. Small species of fish such as herring can filter feed, as can massive species such as basking shark.

Fish meal – A commercial product made from both whole low-value fish and the waste products (heads, tails and fins) of valuable fish that have been filleted. Once these products have been processed into fish meal they form a poweder or cake-like substance which is used as a food for farm animals (including farmed fish) and a fertiliser.

Fixed SpoolFixed spool reel – A fishing reel with a spool which is fixed in place and allows line to flow from it during the cast. Line is wrapped around this spool when reeling in by the bail arm. Invented by English textiles magnate Holden Illingworth in the early 1900s.

Fladen – A Swedish manufacturer of a wide range of fishing tackle and clothing.

Flapper/flapping – Any kind of rig where the hooklengths are not clipped down behind an impact shield or bait clip but are instead left free to flap around.

FlatfishFlatfish – A fish which is primarily flat in the cross section. Flatfish can be very small (dab and topknot) or absolutely massive (halibut), or live in very deep water (megrim and witch). Species such as plaice and sole are heavily commercial exploited. Often referred to as ‘flatties’.

Flood tide – The process of the tide coming in. The tide is described as flooding all of the time it is coming in.

FloatsFloat – 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. Bubble floats can be filled with water to provide weight for casting but cigar shaped floats made out of plastic or polystyrene seem to be more popular with UK sea anglers today.

Flotation SuitFlotation suit – A waterproof, insulated suit that protects anglers from bad weather and the cold, seen as essential for winter fishing in many parts of the British Isles. Provides some additional buoyancy in water but does not replace a life-jacket when at sea. Popular suits made by Sundridge, Fladen and Penn.

Fluorocarbon – A kind of fishing line that is near-invisible underwater. It is also abrasion resistant and sinks, making it ideal for hooklengths.

Forage FishForage fish – A term for small species which shoal in massive numbers and provide a food source for bigger fish further up the food chain. Herring, sandeel and sprat are all classed as forage fish. When attacked by larger species forage fish can form into a spherical shape for defence which is known as a bait ball.

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

Freshwater FishingFreshwater fishing – Fishing in non-saltwater marks such as rivers, lakes or ponds for species such as roach, carp, perch and pike. Also known as coarse fishing. All manner of freshwater fishing such as ledgering, float fishing and fly fishing all come under this generic category.

Fuji – A manufacturer most famous in the fishing world for making high quality rod rings.


Gaff – A pole with a large hook on the end. Used to land fish by hooking them and dragging them out of the water and onto a boat or other structure such as a pier.

Gill NetGill net – A kind of static fixed net that is set in inshore waters. The gill net forms a vertical  panel in the sea and is so called because it traps fish by catching them around the gills. Small scale gill nets are used in inshore waters, and large scale gill nets can be many kilometres across.

Gemini – A British manufacturer of terminal tackle.

Ghost Net – Any form of net which has been lost (or abandoned) in the sea and continues to catch and kill fish.

Greys – A manufacturer of fishing rods and other fishing equipment. Based in Alnwick, UK.

Grip LeadGrip lead – A lead with wires attached that make it hold the seabed once cast out. Grip leads can keep a bait anchored to the seabed in strong tides and do not roll into snags. Most have wires which fold in when the weight is retrieved but grip leads designed for very bad conditions have fixed wires.

Groundbait – Bait thrown into an area of water in order to attract fish. Widely used in freshwater fishing but use in sea fishing is limited to fishing for specific species such as mullet.

GroyneGroyne – A structure built out to sea which interrupts tidal flow and protects specific parts of a harbour from waves, or protect a beach from erosion. Smaller groynes can be made out of wood, whereas the largest groynes can be solid stone structures with a lighthouse on the end.

Gut hooked – The situation where a fish has fully swallowed a hook and will prove difficult to de-hook.


Handlining – A type of fishing where a weight and baited hook are thrown into the sea and would back manually onto a handheld spool, rather than using a rod and reel.

HarbourHarbour –  An inland location, protected from tidal flow, where boats and vessels can dock to take on passengers or cargo, or be moored and stored for future use. Many harbours provide great fishing locations, especially for species which prefer sheltered locations such as mullet.

High tide – The highest point of the tide in any tidal cycle.

Hooklength – A length of line coming from the main rig body that terminates in the hook. Hooklengths are also sometimes referred to as snoods.


Impact ShieldImpact shield – A type of bait clip manufactured by the Breakaway Company that clips the bait behind the lead. This makes the rig more aerodynamic as it is cast through the air in a similar manner to a conventional bait clip, but also protects bait on impact with the water.

ICUNIUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) – An international organisation that conducts research into conservation and sustainability. Produces a scientific scale identifying how endangered animal species are. Endangered fish species are graded on the IUCN’s scale.


Jarden Corporation – See Newell Brands.

JettyJetty – A structure built out to sea which can be designed to protect areas from tidal flow or provide a mooring point for boats and small vessels. Jetties are usually made out of wood or metal and smaller in scale than piers. Jetties are often a popular venue for angling.

J - HooksJ-hook – A traditional type of hook, so called because they resemble the letter J. Examples include Aberdeen, O’Shaughnessy, Viking etc. Hooks of this style have been used by humans since Roman times. Circle hooks are an alternative style of hook which are becoming more popular in UK sea fishing.


Kamasan – A Japanese manufacturer of fishing hooks.

Keep net – A large net used to store fish alive that have been caught until the end of the session when they can be counted for competition purposes or released. Rarely used in sea fishing, but common in freshwater angling.

KelpKelp – A generic term for types of heavy, thick seaweed which are found all around the British Isles. Kelp beds can contain abundant marine life which attracts larger, predatory fish, but can also be a cause of snags and lead to high tackle losses.


Landing net – A long handled net used to help transfer fish safely from the water to the land. Used when pulling the fish from the water with the line alone would risk losing the fish.

Lateral LineLateral line – The line running along the body of almost all fish. The lateral line is full of sensory cells which help the fish detect movement and vibrations in the water. Some fish with highly developed lateral lines rely heavily on their lateral line to successfully hunt and catch prey.

Lead – A piece of metal (lead), often, but not always, shaped like a bomb. Attached to a mainline or rig to provide weight for casting. Also called a weight, plunder and sinker.

Lead LiftLead lift – A plastic device, manufactured by the Breakaway Company, that is fitted above a lead. The design of the device makes the lead rise up in the water column and therefore avoids snags. Used by anglers fishing in heavy rocky areas to cut down on tackle losses.

Leader – A length of monofilament with a high breaking strain that is attached to a much weaker mainline. The leader is necessary to absorb the power of casting.

LevelwindLevel wind – A device fitted to multiplier reels that applies the line evenly to the spool during retrieval. While this makes the reel easier to operate it cuts down on casting distance and makes the spool more difficult to grip during casting. Many multipliers come in level wind and non-level wind versions.

Lineaeffe – An Italian manufacturer of rods, reels and other items of fishing tackle.

LinksLink – A small metal device which is used to connect a weight to the rig. Links have a number of uses in sea fishing, most notably as a safety feature as they prevent the knot attaching the rig to the line from becoming damaged by abrasion when being reeled in. A wide range of links are made by all of the big manufacturers.

Lip hooked – A fish that has been hooked through the mouth and can be easily de-hooked.

Live bait – A small fish that is hooked and cast or placed into the water alive in order to be used as bait for bigger, predatory fish.

Long-lining – A method of commercial fishing where a heavy line up to 20 miles (32km) long with thousands of baited hook snoods attached is placed out at sea and retrieved after several days. Criticised by environmental campaigners due to the high level of bycatch.

Low tide – The lowest point of the tide in any tidal cycle.

LRF (Light Rock Fishing) – A type of fishing which involves fishing from rock marks using very light rods and reels to target small species such as bullhead and rockling as well as larger species. Lure fishing techniques are usually used. HRF (Hard Rock Fishing) is a variant of this.

LureLure – A generic term for any form of artificial device which is designed to look like a small fish or other marine animal and is fitted with a hook and pulled through the water to catch predatory fish such as mackerel, pollock, bass or coalfish. Plugs, spinners, daylights and feathers are all types of lure.


MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) – Defunct ministry of the UK government which governed fisheries. Replaced by DEFRA in 2001.

Main line – The main length of line on a reel. Because most mainlines are around 15 lb breaking strain a leader needs to be used to cast safely.

Mid-section – In a three piece rod this, as the name suggests, is the middle section. With the UK adopting longer continental-style rods of up to 16ft this type of rod is becoming more common.

Migration – The process of fish moving from one part of the world to another, usually to spawn.

Mitchell – Originally a French manufacturer of fishing equipment. Now owned by Pure Fishing.

MLS (Minimum Landing Size) – The smallest size a fish can be before it can legally be taken from the sea. Anything under this size must be safely returned.

Monofilament – Line made with a single strand of nylon. Used extensively in sea fishing.

Multiplier ReelMultiplier reel – A reel with a rotating spool which is disengaged and allowed to spin freely to cast. Magnetic or centrifugal braking systems control the spool speed during a cast. One turn of the handle will rotate the spool multiple times when reeling in, hence the name multiplier.

Muppet – A type of rubber lure that looks like a squid. Used in boat fishing.

Mustad – A Norwegian manufacturer of terminal tackle and fishing equipment. Headquartered in Gjøvik, Norway. Mustad products are sold worldwide.


Newell Brands – Multi-billion pound American conglomerate involved in kitchenware, clothes, stationery, games and food and drink. Of most interest to sea anglers as the parent company of Pure Fishing which in turn owns Berkley, Abu Garcia, Shakespeare, Penn, Hardy, Greys, Mitchell and several others. Newell Brands was known as the Jarden Corporation until 2016.

Night fishing – Any fishing that is carried out in darkness.

Neap tide – A tide that occurs in the first and last quarters of the moon. The low tide will not be particularly low, nor the high tide very high.


Off the ground cast – A casting style where the weight is placed on the ground and the rod is swept in a greater arc than in the overhead cast. Harder to master but provides more compression in the rod and therefore greater casting distances.

Oily FishOily fish – A culinary term for fish that have oil in their flesh such as mackerel and herring. These types of fish are a popular table fish and also make the best bait due to the scent trail produced by the oiliness. Contrast with whitefish, such as cod, which have oil stored in their internal organs.

Overhead cast – The simplest type of cast that consists of sweeping the rod upwards and releasing the line at a 45-degree angle. Disparagingly referred to as the ‘overhead thump’.


Pegged competition – A fishing competition where the anglers involved are allocated to a specific location (marked by a numbered peg), which they must remain at for the duration of the competition. Generally more common in freshwater fishing, sea angling competitions tend to be rovers.

Pelagic fish – Fish that live and feed between mid-water and the surface of the sea such as mackerel and herring.

Pendulum cast – The most powerful type of cast. The lead is swung from side to side to develop compression in the rod prior to casting. Must not be attempted without a shockleader

Penn – An American manufacturer of sea fishing equipment and clothing. Owned by Pure Fishing.

PennellPennell – A type of rig where there are two hooks fitted to the hooklength, one in front of the other. The presence of two hooks increases the chance of a fish being successfully and securely hooked. Primarily used when fishing for large species and popular for presenting large cocktail baits.

Pest species – Any small species of fish that is caught inadvertently when targeting bigger or higher value species.

Pier C Martin RoutledgePier – A raised structure going out to sea. Large stone piers can be over a mile long, whereas stilted promenade style piers often have a theater or similar building at the end and dry out at low tide. Piers are popular fishing marks, but can become crowded in summer months.

Pirk – A big, heavy lure used in boat fishing.

Plain LeadPlain lead – A weight with no grip wires attached to it. A plain lead will roll round on the seabed if the tide is strong enough. This can be advantageous as it may roll into gullies where fish gather, but can also roll into snags or be pushed along the beach and into shallow water in a strong tide.

PlugPlug – A type of fishing lure. Plugs can be made in one, two or three sections and contain a number of hooks. Plugs can be designed to either sink or float. Used in sea fishing primarily for bass, but also widely used in freshwater fishing for predatory species such as pike.

PortPort – A location inland designed to allow ships to dock. Ports can be used to allow vessels to pick up or unload cargo or passengers. Ports contain one or more harbours. While many areas of ports are restricted to anglers, some contain good fishing locations.

Power GumPower gum – A stretchy type of line, used extensively in freshwater fishing. The main used of power gum is sea fishing is as a material to make adjustable stop knots. Comes in a variety of colours and breaking strains, with 10-15lb the best for tying stop knots with.

Priest – A kind of club used to humanely kill fish that are being retained.

Pulley rig – A rig where the weight will move higher up the line when reeling in a fish. This cuts down the chances of getting snagged.

Pure Fishing –  The parent company which owns many popular fishing brands available in the UK including Mitchell, Berkley, Penn, Abu Garcia, SpiderWire, Stren, Shakespeare, Hardy and Greys. Pure Fishing is itself ultimately owned by the American multi-national conglomerate Newell Brands.

Purse SeinePurse seine – A method of catching fish commercially. Purse seining involves placing a net around fish and then drawing it closed and pulling them to the boat. Purse seining can be small scale, catching just a few fish, or carried out on an industrial scale – catching hundreds of tons of fish at a time.


Quivertip – A type of rod in which the tip will move or quiver easily to identify bites. Some rods have a choice of different tips which can be used depending on conditions. Spare tips are often stored in the butt section of the rod.

Quota – The maximum amount of a species that a commercial trawler can catch. Any fish caught over this amount will have to be thrown back into the sea dead as it is illegal to take them back to port.


Ratchet – A device on a reel which can be engaged to emit an audible warning when line is taken from the reel. Used as a warning that a fish has taken a bait.

Ray – A species of marine creature characterised by a flattened trainular body, tail and a skeleton made out of cartilage. Closely related to skates and sharks. Also a term for the spine or bone which supports the fin of certain classifications of fish.

Ray Finned Fish –  A classification (actinopterygii) of bony fish which have segmented fins made up of spiny/bony rays with skin stretched between them. The vast majority of fish found in British waters (cod, plaice, flounder, hake, dab etc) are all ray finned fish.

Recreational FishingRecreational fishing – Fishing for fun/enjoyment with a rod and line and not for profit or commercial gain. Also known as sport fishing. Recreational fishing is big business in the UK with over a million active sea anglers and the overall market being worth around £2billion per year.

Record weight – The biggest fish that has ever been caught for that particular species. There are separate records for shore and boat.

Redlist – A list of fish that Greenpeace says should not be eaten as they are endangered, or fished for in ways that damage the environment.

Reducer – An extension fitted to the butt of a fishing rod to aid reeling in when fishing with the reel in the low down position.

Reel seat – A form of clamp that attaches a reel to a rod.

Reeling in – The process of turning the handle of a reel to retrieve the rig from the seabed.

Rest/Rod rest – A stand to place rods in once they have already been cast out. Also known as a tripod.

Retrieval rate – The speed at which a spool rotates when reeling in. A retrival rate of 6:1 would mean that the spool rotates six times for every full turn of the handle.

Rod RingsRings – The circles through which line goes through a rod. Cheaper and older rods have metal rings whereas more expensive rods have rings which are lined with materials such as porcelain. Rods designed for fixed spool reels have fewer and larger rings, while multiplier rods have a higher number of smaller rings.

Rig – Terminal tackle (such as hooks, swivels and beads) that has been assembled together, ready to be clipped onto the mainline, baited up and cast out. Usually stored in a rig wallet when not being used.

Rig wallet – A small booklet made up of plastic wallets that can be used to store a number of rigs.

Rotten bottom – A generic term for a system that allows the lead to break free from a snag and the rest of the rig can be retrieved. Also called a weak link.

RoundfishRoundfish – A fish which is round in the cross section. Most UK species are roundfish such as cod, mackerel, pollock, wrasse, bass, coalfish, whiting etc. Contrast with flatfish such as plaice, flounder, Dover sole etc. which are flat in the cross section and species such as rays and eels.

Rover competition – A competition where those involved can move around from place to place within a pre-set area. Most sea angling competitions take this form. Contrasts with a pegged competition.

Rubby-dubby – A mix of mashed up fish, fish guts and blood. Usually made up of mackerel due to their oily flesh and abundance. Poured into the sea from a boat in order to attract large predatory fish, usually sharks, to the area being fished. Also known as chum.


Sakura – Japanese manufacturer of terminal tackle.

Sandbank – A mound of sand that is usually submerged but can be accessed at low tide.

Scent trail – The underwater trail of scent that develops when baits are in the water. Repeatedly casting into the same area, or having a group of anglers fishing the same area will develop a stronger scent trail and attract more fish.

Scratching – The process of switching to small hooks and baits to catch small fish because nothing better is biting. Usually used in matches where a small fish could make the difference between winning or losing the competition.

Sediment – Naturally occurring material (microscopic particles of sand, rock, animal material) which rests on the seabed. Can be stirred up due to weather conditions or human activity (i.e. trawling) which will add colour to the seawater.

Shakespeare – A manufacturer of all kinds of sea, freshwater and fly fishing tackle, and fishing equipment ranging from clothes and shelters to rods and reels. Founded in 1897. One of many manufacturers now ultimately owned by Pure Fishing.

Shark – Species of fish in the Chondrichthyes class, characterised by unsegmented fins, a skeleton made out of cartilage, multiple gills and rough, scaleless skin. Species such as the lesser-spotted dogfish, bull huss, tope, porbeagle and smooth-hound are all classified as sharks.

Shimano – Japanese tackle manufacturer. Founded in 1921 and entered the fishing tackle market in 1970. Also makes equipment for rowing, cycling and other outdoor sports. Headquartered in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture.

Shockleader – See leader.

ShotShot – Small, spherical lead with a cut out of it which are pressed onto line to provide additional weight where needed. Used extensively in freshwater fishing. Usually used in sea fishing when float fishing, but only with very light lines as they seriously damage stronger lines.

Sinker – Another name for a lead or weight.

Size limit – The minimum size that a fish can be if it is to be taken from the sea by an angler. Anything smaller must be returned alive whenever possible.

Skate – A species of marine creature characterised by a flattened, triangular body with a tail, and a cartilaginous skeleton. Closely related to rays and sharks. Worldwide there are over 200 species of skate.

Slack tide – The period between high and low tides when the current is at its weakest.

Snag – Any underwater obstruction which traps terminal tackle and prevents reeling in.

Snapping off – What happens when the line breaks mid-cast. Also referred to as ‘cracking off.’

Snood – Anther name for a hooklength.

Specimen weight – A large fish that characterises a very good catch for that species.

Spider lead – An alternative name for a grip lead.

SpinnerSpinner/Spinning – A lure made out of metal that rotates/spins as it is pulled through the water. Spinners usually have a single treble hook fitted and can be used to catch predatory species such as bass, pollock, coalfish and mackerel. Going fishing with these lures is referred to as spinning.

Spinning Rod – A rod designed for catching fish using spinners. Typically 6-10ft long and rated to cast 1-3oz.

Split ring – A metal ring that is used to attach hooks or swivels to lures.

Spool – The part of the reel that holds the line

SpoonSpoon – A type of lure that wobbles from side to side in the tide or when being retrieved. Alternatively spoons can be fitted on the hooklength near to a baited hook in order to flutter in the tidal flow. Particularly effective in attracting inquisitive species such as flatfish.

Sport fishing – Another term for recreational fishing.

Spring tide – A tide occurring in the time of the new and full moon. There will be a big difference between high and low tide, with the low tide being very low and the high tide very high. Not connected to the season of spring.

Stop knot – a knot tied onto a length of line to stop sliding terminal tackle passing that point.

Straight through line – The act of using a single strength line for sea fishing, rather than a leader and a thinner/weaker mainline.

Strike – The action of pulling a rod swiftly upwards prior to reeling in to drive a hook into the mouth of a fish.

Sundridge – A manufacturer of outdoor clothing, of most interest to sea anglers due to the flotation suits the company produces.

SwivelSwivel – A figure-of-eight shaped device used in terminal tackle to eliminate twist. Extensively used in UK sea fishing. Usually used for connecting two sections of line together. Comes in a range of sizes and breaking strains and designs such as crane swivels, barrel swivels and rolling swivels.


Table fish – Any fish which is good for eating.

Tackle – A generic term for fishing equipment. Small items of tackle which are used to make rigs are referred to as terminal tackle.

Tag – Useless pieces of line that are left over after tying a knot. Usually cut away and disposed of.

Terminal tackle – The equipment attached to the end of a line that will be cast out to sea and go under the water.

Tide – The variation of the depth of the sea at any given point. Caused by the gravitational pull of the moon.

Tip section – The end section of a fishing rod.

Tip light – A light attached to the end of a fishing rod so bites can be seen when fishing at night. Also the name of a brand that manufactures these type of lights.

Tournament casting – Casting in order to achieve the greatest distance. Tournament casting is an activity and sport in itself.

Trace – See rig.

Trapped SwivelTrapped swivel – The method of trapping a swivel between two beads with crimps or power gum stops to create a strong point to attach a hooklength. Provides a rig which is much stronger than one made with a large number of knots. Widely used in UK sea fishing.

TrawlerTrawler – A commercial fishing vessel that catches fish by dragging a net through the sea. Pelagic trawlers catch fish which live and feed in mid-water such as mackerel and herring, whereas bottom trawlers drag a net across the seabed to catch demersal species such as cod, haddock, sole and plaice.

Treble hook – A kind of hook consisting of three small conventional hook joined together. Generally attached to lures and not used to present bait.

Tripod – A device for supporting and holding rods that have been cast out. Also referred to as a rod rest or a stand.

TrollingTrolling – A type of fishing from a boat where lures are trailed behind the moving vessel to catch predatory fish which live and feed in mid-water. Can be done on a recreational or commercial basis but is not commonly practiced in British waters by either pleasure anglers or commercial fishermen.


Ultima – A manufacturer of fishing line.

Uptiding – A style of fishing from an anchored boat where the angler casts in the opposite direction to which the tide is flowing.


Varivas – A Japanese manufacturer of fishing hooks.


Waders – Waterproof trousers which incorporating boots or wellingtons. Used to allow an angler to walk out into the sea and reach fish feeding there.

Weak link – See rotten bottom.

Weight – Another name for lead.

WhitefishWhitefish – A culinary term for types of fish which are highly regarded table fish due to the delicate, flakes of white meat produced once the fish are cooked. Cod, whiting, plaice and pollack are all whitefish. Contrasts with oily fish which have oily flesh which is substantially different when cooked.

Wire – A fishing line used for boat fishing due to its strength and lack of stretch. Use in shore fishing limited to hooklengths for big species such as conger and sharks that could bite through mono lines.

Wreck fishing – A type of boat fishing where the boat will drift over the wreck of a sunken ship to target the fish that live and feed there.

WSB Tackle – A UK supplier and manufacturer of rods, reels and terminal tackle.


Zziplex – A UK manufacturer of fishing rods.

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