The Roughfisher's Glossary


Angling:  A method of catching fish wherein the fish are fooled into taking a hook, made attractive by a natural bait or artificial lure, into the inside of their mouth.

Armchair Lifer:  The situation when a fish the angler has already caught and documented is subsequently recognized as a legitimate species, thus increasing the angler's lifelist without having to go fishing at all.

Backlash:  The situation where an angler's line flies off their quickly spinning reel while the forward motion of the terminal tackle has ceased.  This causes a terrific tangle, and often provokes Swearing (see also).

Baitfeeder:  A spinning reel which has a freespool setting, where a fish can take out line with very little resistance.  Other trade names describing this function include Baitrunner, and Liveliner. 

Baitfishing:  A method of fishing which uses organic indigenous baits that are the natural food of fish. 

Bank Stick:  A synthetic Forked Stick (see also).

Beer-and-Chairs Fishing:  A very relaxed method of angling where the angler sits in a folding chair, often with a beer or other beverage in their hand, and waits for a fish to bite.

Bowfishing:  A so-called sport where people shoot fish for no good reason and throw them in the garbage. 

Bushed: 1)  The state of being extremely tired, particularly after strenuous outdoor activity like fishing or hunting.  2)  Becoming tangled in a submerged tree (see also: Snag)

Chuck-and-Duck:  A method of drift-fishing in moderate to strong current developed by Great Lakes Steelhead anglers.  Most often a flyrod and flyreel are used, the flyreel being loaded with monofilament line.  Often used to present egg patterns or spawnbags.

Clicker:  Any fishing reel with a freespool setting that makes an audible, mechanical clicking noise when line is taken out.  Although a baitfeeder spinning reel with an especially loud line-out sound could qualify as a clicker, this term is generally reserved for levelwind-type reels. 

Creel:  1) A fancy wicker basket, worn on the belt, into which fish can be placed to keep them fresh before eating.  2) The act of keeping a fish to eat it later.

Criminy:  A fairly mild expletive used in angling, often when sensitive non-anglers are present, to express frustration and disappointment without resorting to actual full-bore profanity.  (see Swearing)

Dirtbagging It: The art and science of conducting an extensive expedition with limited resources by living off the land with minimal gear. this term was coined by Tyler Johnson. Definitely not an activity for Orvis Boys (see also).

Doink: The sound that is made when a large fish breaks your line.  A perfect opportunity for Swearing (see also).

The Dutchman: A type of fishing photograph where the angler looks at the fish he's holding, rather than looking into the camera.

Eddy: A section of current in flowing water, moving contrary to the direction of the main current, especially in a circular motion.

Egg Pattern: Any artificial lure that imitates a fish egg or a cluster of fish eggs. Popular egg patterns include yarn balls, plastic beads, rubber balls, blobs of glue, tiny balloons, or flies tied in various shapes and colors to imitate an egg or a cluster of eggs.

Fartknocker: Slang term for a small northern pike, generally under 3 pounds in weight.

Finny: An adjective used to describe weedy backwaters that are likely to hold the prehistoric beast known as the bowfin.

Fishing Naked: Inadvertantly fishing with no bait. This usually occurs when a crafty fish steals your bait without you noticing, but it can also happen after a Jackman Cast (see also).

Flyfishing:  A method of fishing that allows you to easily use cheap home-made lures, and allows you to cast weightless lures that other types of rods and reels cannot easily cast.

Forked Stick:  Also called a "Y-stick".  A branch of a large tree, or an entire main trunk of a small tree, shaped like a Y and sharpened, which is cut and thrust into the ground to support the rod while bottom-fishing.  This allows the angler to detect strikes by light-biting fish.

Greenhorn:  A hunter or angler who is ignorant of the woods and waters, but is eager to learn and needs to be guided by a true outdoorsman.  Popularized by the television show Grizzly Adams, where the title character was called Greenhorn despite the fact that he had lived in a remote wilderness cabin for decades and had his own pet grizzly bear.

Grouper Fishing:  A method of fighting fish, commonly used in the pursuit of grouper, where the reel's drag is tightened so that no line can be pulled from the reel no matter how hard the fish pulls. (see also Horsing, Doink)

Guide:  1)  The circular devices attached to a fishing rod which collectively force the line down the length of the rod.  2)  A personal servant paid to catch fish for you, often used by wealthy Greenhorns (see also).

Horsing:  Putting too much pressure on a fish, in a vain attempt to bring it in quickly.  Often results in a broken line.  (see also: Greenhorn, Doink)

Jackman Cast:  Anytime an angler tries to make a strong cast, but ends up casting their bait off - especially if it's a large minnow that flies off uselessly into the distance. Can result in Swearing or Fishing Naked (see also).

Jake:  A colloquial term for the white sucker.  

Jet-ski: A diabolical machine, expertly designed to ruin every positive aspect of the outdoor experience.  Also called a wetbike or a waverunner.  Invariably piloted by Yahoos (see also).

Leaper: Any fish that jumps impressively when hooked.

Lifelist: A list of all the species of fish you have caught while angling, subdivided by geographical area and size.

Microfishing: The practice of using tiny, microscopic tackle to catch tiny, microscopic fish. Not synonymous with *lifelist* fishing. 

Midwest Red: A big, impressive specimen of the species known as Sheephead or Freshwater Drum.

The Onions: A roughfisher's term for a good, solid hookset. For example: "You can't set the hook into a flathead lightly, you have to GIVE HER THE ONIONS!"

Orvis Boy:  Anyone who thinks that they are better than other fisherman because of the equipment or methods they use.

Pole Manniquin: An extra angler who isn't actively fishing, but who allows a more active angler to legally use an extra rod. 

Pregnant Slinky:  A slinky which has been forcibly stuffed with shot that are larger than the diameter of the hollow rope used to make it.  (see Slinky)

Professional Fisherman: A person, usually wearing a ludicrous jumpsuit covered in product sponsorship patches and driving an equally ludicrous shiny boat, who makes a wretched living as a salesman while pretending to be an angler.

Real Fishing: Fishing for sport or food on foot or in a human-powered craft, without a guide, near your home.

Remote Lake: A mythical location, generally described as being in the state of Minnesota, which is used as a purely metaphorical device to describe any out-of-the way wilderness lake with good fishing.

Roughfish: 1) An undesirable fish (pre-1998). 2) Any respectable, hard-fighting fish you caught using your own wits and skill, preferably in difficult conditions with minimal gear - especially if it is a species that is seldom caught by, or completely unknown to, the average angler.

Roughfishing:  A method of angling where you not only pursue the full diversity of fish species in a water body, but also try to entice the fish not with technology, money, or brute force - but with brains and skill as an outdoorsman.

Roughfisher:  Any person who enjoys roughfishing.

Scumfoot:  (noun) A great urban roughfishing spot on the Mississippi River in Minnesota.

Scumfooting:  (verb) Crawling around in an urban environment, over rough terrain, to find great fishing near your home.

Skillet Fish:  (noun) Any fish that is the perfect size for eating - not too big, and not too small. This term is best said in a slow Texas drawl.

Skunked:  Not catching anything.  In most cases, this means you went fishing and caught no fish at all, although in some circumstances this could mean not catching what you intended to.  For example, if were trying to catch Longnose Gar but caught nothing but walleyes, you could be considered "Skunked on Gar".

Slinky:  A homemade snagless sinker manufactured using a chunk of parachute cord and a variable number of spherical weights which is clipped on a snap-swivel and threaded onto your line.

Slinky-rigging:  Using a slinky to present a live bait, usually in current, to the fish.  A form of drift-fishing. (see also: Slinky)

Snag: 1) To hook, or attempt to hook, a fish in the body by impaling it with a hook while it is not feeding on your bait or lure - an activity unrelated to Angling, where the fish must be tricked into inhaling your bait or hook.  2)  Any object which your fishing tackle becomes entangled in or hooked on.  

Snagger:  An angler who does not understand the meaning of the word Angling, and intentionally foul-hooks fish which have not inhaled their bait or lure.

Spawn Bag:  A small mesh bag filled with real fish eggs, used as bait.

Spooled:  The situation an angler finds themselves in after a fish has run out all of their line against the drag, leaving nothing but an empty spool.  This is possibly the most appropriate time for extensive Swearing (see also).

Strip-Strike:  A method of setting the hook with a flyrod when a fish takes your fly.  You jerk the rod back, while at the same time stripping in line with your off hand.  The result is a very solid hookup - even at long distances - with a flexible flyrod.

Surf N' Turf:  A combination bait consisting of both a piece of nightcrawler and a minnow on the same hook. This is an effective bait choice, often used for sturgeon and catfish.

Swearing:  The end result of angling misfortune.  This may or may not include the extensive use of profanity.  While unacceptable in polite society, anglers often use swearing to regain prestige after losing a large fish, because fellow anglers are invariably impressed by outbursts of creative and passionate swearing.

Terminal Greenhorn:  An obstinant Greenhorn who refuses to learn, and thus, despite many years of instruction and success, remains forever a Greenhorn.

Three-Ounce Salute:  The act of intentionally casting a large sinker close to an offending yahoo (see also) to discourage further idiocy. Example: If that jet-ski comes back I'm going to give him a three-ounce salute!

Toxic Creek:  A beautiful little trout creek in Wisconsin that is so polluted by radioactive waste, and effluent from a nearby chemical plant, that you would never want to go there. Known to be populated by huge maneating radioactive scuds.

Whackandleaver:  A strike, while still fishing with bait, where the fish strikes your line very hard, and does not steal your bait, but never returns. Also called a "Hit N' Quit".

Yahoo:  A person who thinks the water is there for their own personal enjoyment, and don't care about how their behavior detracts from everyone else's enjoyment of the outdoors. (See also:  Jetski)


D.T.'s picture

A.K.A. Hit~n~quit.

D.T.'s picture

When a fish steals your bait and you are fishin without any bait. Empty hooking it. Also known as stripped or cleaned.

D.T.'s picture

When using a nightcrawler and fathead sammich for bait.

smurph's picture


Cast_and_Blast's picture

How about an "Armchair Lifer?"  A pleasant surprise while viewing older pictures and realizing you have a new lifer.

SuperFrog's picture

Crappie Flop

1. The spastic flopping on the dock/shore/boat bottom, usually by a crappie or other panfish, when attempting to remove the hook.

2. Same as above, except done by the angler after slipping down the side of a mud slicked river bank.



It doesn't matter what you're fishing for, just as long as you're out there doing it.

any "angler" that uses every chance he or she gets to put down those fishing for the less known roughfish

any "angler" that uses every chance he or she gets to put down those fishing for the less known roughfish

D.T.'s picture

When it's time to pull the plug for the night catfishin and ya give 'er the onions so hard ya "de-bait" your hook.

Dr Flathead's picture

Jake = White Sucker     Even these guys hammering panfish yesterday were gettin a few "jakes" in the mix.

Cast_and_Blast's picture

Mastering the Species--ability to catch the same species consistantly under different times of year, situations, and waters.   

Cast_and_Blast's picture

Airmail--The act of casting your bottom rig beyond reasonable range, in a last ditch effort, to reach new water that is beyond the angler's limits, which is usually attempted when frustration builds and all else fails to get a bite.