REFLECTIONS: Do you know your fishing terms?


Herbert Hoover once said that “Fishing is a … discipline in the equality of men — for all men are equal before fish.”

A truer sentence was never spoken!

For hundreds … and thousands … of years, fishing has been part of the human life style. For food … and later, for sport … it has been in the forefront of our existence … and has now evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry.

In order for the uninitiated … as well as the uninformed … to properly assimilate all the fishing jargon that is thrown around, I thought it would only be proper to clarify some common terms.

For, as Don Marquis once stated, one cannot be too careful as “fishing is a delusion entirely surrounded by liars in old clothes!”

So read and enjoy … and please note these are NOT written in order of importance.

Tackle shop: The place where more bass are caught and more deer killed than any other place on earth.

Crankbait: A lure designed specifically for catching boat carpet, landing nets and thumbs.

Tackle box: A contraption designed to tangle all of your lures together into one giant ball. Looks like an oversized first aid kit … and, if lucky, contains a lot of sharp objects … and bandages to repair injuries from same.

Favorite bait: The one you caught your last fish on … and just lost.

Lure: What the tackle makers use to get your money. It is semi-enticing to fish but can drive an angler into such a frenzy that he will max his credit card before exiting the tackle shop.

Reel: A weighted object that causes a rod to sink quickly when dropped overboard.

Rod: An attractively painted length of fiberglass or cane that keeps the angler from getting too close to a fish.

School: a grouping in which fish are taught to avoid your $26.95 lures and hold out for spam instead.

Clear water: What comes out of the Ozarks bottle on a hot fishing day.

Dirty water: What you drink from the bottom of the ice chest after all the Ozarks water is gone on a hot fishing day.

Point: What everyone does at the boat ramp when you forgot to put the plus in. (Sometimes “laugh” goes with point.)

Point (second definition): The part of the hook you can’t see when it is embedded in your finger.

Finesse fishing: Talking your wife into letting you go.

Jig: What you do when your wife finds you at the bar instead of the boat ramp.

Line: What you give your wife when you come back late from fishing. (Can also apply to coworkers when they ask on Monday how your fishing went.)

Backlash: What you get from the wife after you give her your line.

Bed: The place you will not get to sleep if your wife doesn’t believe your line.

Doghouse: Your new home if your wife doesn’t believe your line.

Sunny beach: The guy that is fishing in your favorite hole.

Milk-runs: What you get when you forgot about your lactose intolerance and ate too much ice cream.

Flip and pitch: What your wife does when she finds out the real cost of your fishing equipment.

Trolling motor: Gift given to wife for your 10th wedding anniversary.

Texas rig: A ’65 Chevy pulling a 14 foot Lone Star with a 5 hp Evinrude with two adults and six kids piled in to go catfishin’.

Test: (1) the amount of strength a fishing line affords an angler when fighting fish in a specific weight range. (2) A measure of your creativity in blaming “that damn line” for once again losing the fish.

Catch and release: A conservation motion that happens most often right before the local Fish and Game officer pulls over a boat to see if it has caught over its limit.

True fisherman:

A)You have a power worm dangling from your rear view mirror because you think it makes a good air conditioner.

B)Your wedding party had to tie tin cans to the back of your bass boat.

C) You call your boat “Sweetheart” and your wife “Skeeter.”

D) You name your black lab “Mercury” and your cat “Evinrude.”

E) You have your name painted on a parking spot at the launch ramp.

F) You send your kid off to the first day of school with his shoes tied in a palomar knot.

G) Your $30,000 bass boat’s trailer needs new tires, so you just “borrow” the ones off your car.

H) You think there are four seasons: Pre-Spawn, Spawn, Post Spawn and Hunting.

Finally, this column wouldn’t be complete without a few quotes:

“Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” (Henry David Thoreau)

“You know when they have a fishing show of TV? They catch the fish and then let it go. They don’t want to eat the fish … they just want to make it late for something.” (Mitch Hedberg)

“Last year I went fishing with Salvador Dali. He was using a dotted line. He caught every other fish.” (Steven Wright)

“I fish better with a lit cigar; some fish better with talent.” (Nick Lyons)

“If fishing is a religion, fly fishing is high church.” (Tom Brokaw)

All the romance of fishing exists in the mind of the angler and is no way shared by the fish.” (Harold F. Blaisdell)

“It has always been my private conviction that any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming.” (John Steinbeck)

“Bragging may not bring happiness, but no man having caught a large fish goes home through an alley.” (Author Unknown.)

“An angler is a man who spends rainy days sitting around on the muddy banks of rivers doing nothing because his wife won’t let him do it at home. (Author Unknown)

“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles. (Doug Larson McManus)

“Fishing tournaments seem a little like playing tennis with living balls.” (Jim Harrison)

“Carpe Diem” does not mean “fish of the day.” (Author Unknown)

“If you’ve got short, stubby fingers and wear reading glasses, any relaxation you would normally derive from fly fishing is completely eliminated when you try to tie on a fly.” (Jack Ohman)

“Nothing makes a fish bigger than almost being caught.” (Author Unknown)

“Scholars have long known that fishing eventually turns men into philosophers. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to buy decent tackle on a philosopher’s salary.” (Patrick F. McManus)

“Three-fourths of the Earth’s surface is water and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the Good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn.” (Chuck Clark)

“I am not against golf since I cannot but suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering trout.” (Paul O’Neil)

“Give a man a fish, and he can eat for a day. But teach a man how to fish and he’ll be dead of mercury poisoning inside of three years. (Charles Haas)

Finally … to put the icing on the cake, so to speak … is one of my favorites. It is penned by Koos Brandt of South Africa.

And, I quote:

“My biggest worry is that my wife (when I’m dead) will sell my fishing gear for what I said I paid for it.”

And with that, have a super weekend!


Jack Batdorff is the chairman of the Pioneer Group. Email him at


Posted by Jack Batdorff

Jack Batdorff is the chairman of the Pioneer Group. E-mail him at

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