Fishing The Fly Forum

Sandy Nelson

Glossary of fishing terms
« on: 10/01/2008 at 18:43 »
Here is a glossary of fly fishing terms that are often used.
please feel free to add any you discover, or think would help others :z16
Or post words, phrases you are not sure of and we can answer if possible and add to the list, I'm sure it could instigate a few discussions too :wink

Leader, aka cast,  is the length of line from the end of the flyline to the tippet or fly. It can be straight and level, tapered, furled, polyleader or braided.

Tapered leader is a tapering length of nylon or similar usually about 9ft long, it is attached to the end of the flyline with either a loop to loop connection or a nail knot. At the other end the tippet is added.

Tippet is the length of nylon or similar that is added to the end of a leader and to which the fly is tied.

Polyleader is a trade name for a thicker tapered leader that is more like an extension of your flyline than a nylon type leader , you get them in a variety of densities so you can turn a Floating line into a selection of sink tips.Again a loop to loop connection to join them to the flyline and then you add a tippet to the narrow end.

Braided leaders are a length of braided nylon that tapers, like polyleaders you get different densities, they are easier to cast than polyleaders but can get damaged by flies getting stuck in the braid, depends how good your casting is :wink Loop to loop connection with fly line and tippet is added to the fine end.

Furled leader is a woven selection of very fine nylon strands that again forms a tapered leader, they are great for delicate presentations with dry fly and fairly slow actioned rods. loop to loop connection with flyline and the tippet is added to the fine end.

Nylon is standard tippet material, self explanitory

Co-polymer is another tippet material, often has double the breaking strain for diameter compared to Nylon, it is a specially formulated type of nylon, you can get nylon with a co-poly coating try to avoid. Pure Co-poly is great stuff although not quite as good with knots as standard nylon, but life's a compromise, the thin diameter is often more advantageous.

Fluoro-carbon, this is a different material to nylon, often thinner per breaking strain than anything else, although you have to pay for this feature :z6
It is denser than water and nylon so sinks faster and has light refractive properties that make it almost invisible underwater( so they say :roll)
It generally is very good, but can make brittle knots if not well wetted. It can comes in different grades of stiffness so can be used for different types of fishing, a bit techie really :z6 DO NOT BURN, when fluorocarbon melts it gives of hydrofloric gas/acid, ok so probably only over 800'c but i aint taking any chances.

Braided loop is the small piece of looped braid that you can attach to the end of a flyline to allow easy changing of leaders, with lightweight flylines it can unbalance the tip of the line and cause hinging, but for 6wt's and above it is pretty useful.

Nail knot the best way to attach a tapered leader to the tip of a 5wt or less flyline, IMHO :z16

Weight forward line is a flyline that has a taper that places more of the bulk in a shorter head in the fwd half of the line, the remaining line is thin for shooting distances.
different arrangements give lines with different properties, they are good for fishing heavy flies and casting long ranges.You aim to aerialise the head portion and then shoot the line.

Double taper lines have a small taper at the front then a long level belly and a short taper at the rear, they give you better presentation and work best with unweighted flies.
The weight is distributed throughout the line so you have more control over the aerialised portion of line, no need to shoot.

Tip section is the first 6" to 18" of the flyline and is the section that you attach the leader too, it also has a direct effect on the presentation, longer means gentler as long as the energy is carried through the line smoothly.

Fwd taper is the part of the line that joins the tip to the belly, a short taper gives good turnover for large flies, a longer taper is better for presentation of smaller flies.

Belly, this portion of line is the section that carries the weight, the length determines the head length and that affects how much you need to aerialise in order to cast it effectively

Rear taper the portion between the belly and the running line, the length of this affects casting, presentation and the ability of the line to roll and switch cast. It is very techie and the subject of lots of arguments amongst line buffs

Running line, the thin running line for shooting a wf head a long way, does exactly what it says on the tin.

AFTMA is the association who set down the guidlines for creating a system for line weights, it is supposed to make life easier for people, by giving the set size of line to match with the appropriate rod, unfortunatley is is a matter of taste and opinion and although the guidelines are reasonably good, they dont always work for more info read this

Floating line, exactly what it says it is, although some are much better than others. Being a very low density line some formulas are prone to coiling, the best ones don't. Some of these lines are available with super buoyant tips, sort of the opposite to a sink tip, quite a neat feature. Colour is a point for discussion (endless :shock) use drab lines where there is lots of background trees and high vegetation and light coloured lines where there is nothing but sky.

Intermediate , this type of line sinks very slowly, it is sometimes reffered to as a neutral density line (not entirely accurate as then it would hover in the water and not sink at all) however it is a very useful piece of kit and will work as a good if not your only sinking line in most small waters that are less than 12-15ft deep.

Slime line this is the slang term for a clear intemediate or slow sinker. when they create a line that is completely clear it is generally very slippery to touch, for whatever reason ??? hence the name. great it clear water fisheries.

Sink tip, this is another very useful line, it is a floater where the last few feet are a higher density to the rest, as its name implies the tip section therefore sinks. They can be made to sink at a variety of different speeds but most tend to be intermediate or slow sinkers. The length varies from line to line but often is related to the density,ie less dense longer tip.

Midge tip this is a sink tip where the tip is a 1m length of clear intermediate for fishing in the surface film, its a RIO flylines Tradename.

Buzzer tip is anthor trade name for a Snowbee line where there is a much longer, approx 3m intermediate tip that will fish the flies deeper than a midge tip but not so deep as a standard sink tip.

Ghost tip is another clear tipped sink tip, this time for Cortland again about 3m long.

Wet tip is the tradename for Scientific anglers sink tip available in different densities.

DI-3 this is a medium sinking line, the DI-3 represents the sink rate in inches per sec, this is probably the fastest line you could need on small waters.

Wet Cel 2 is a tradename that is 3M's DI-3

Di-5 is a fast sinking line

Di-7 is a an extra fast sinking line, that is very popular on large resevoirs when stripping blobs and where the water is very deep, at a foot every couple of secs it sinks like a stone, its quite tricky to cast with too.

Theres a few for starters :grin

« Last Edit: 15/01/2008 at 16:54 by spiderman »

Sandy Nelson

Re: Glossary of fishing terms
« Reply #1 on: 11/01/2008 at 09:46 »
Some fly terms

Wet fly, term for a fly designed to be fished sub surface, can be hackled, winged, or weighted. Used for imitating subsurface insects such as beetles, nymphs,shrimps etc as well as drowned flies.On rivers they are best fished upstream or across.

Dryfly, these flies are meant to float in or on the surface of the water, representing hatching insects, hatched insects, flies blown on to the water surface and dying insects.
On rivers they are usually fished upstream.

Spiders, these are soft hackled flies to be fished in the surface or subsurface to represent struggling or hatching insects, they are great generic flies and will often catch more heavily than specific dries during a hatch.On a river fish like wets or dries depending on what you are trying to imitate.

Nymphs, these represent the larval stage of a fly, as often as not the larval stage of flies represents 80-95% of its life span so they make up most of the fishes diet. There are many different types and often specific patterns are best although a handful of standards such are GRHE and pheasant tail can be used with confidence.They are usually weighted to get down to the bottom where the nymphs live and are best fished upstream on the river.

Emergers, these are flies designed to imitate the water borne insects at the point of hatching, when they hatch from nymph to fly they may hang in the water surface for quite a while 30-60secs usually, at this time they are easy food for the fish, the reason spiders often fish better during a hatch, klinkhammers also represent this pretty well. fish like dries.

Lures, this is the generic term applied to flies that are designed to trigger a response take from the fish, either by aggression or by simulating a larger food source like small fish or much larger nymphs like damsels. As a rule they look like nothing from the natural world but are very effective with artificially reared fish. The conditions of the day often determine which colour will work best but if the fish are after fry then white is best, if they're feeding on daphnia then orange or pink is best etc. always best to ask whats working :z16

IPN, idiot proof nymph is a nickname given to a multitude of lures, normally they have a marabou tail, fritz body and a large bead at the head, simple but effective.

Damsel is an actual species of fly, the nymphs form a large part of a stillwater trouts diet, they are largish 1"-2" long and swim with a sinuous motion, they vary from light straw through olive to black depening upon the water they live in and the time of year, earlier is lighter, they get darker as they get older, they stay as nymphs for 2 years and usually hatch on the bank during the summer. Many olive lures are referred to as damsels, although specifically incorrect the motion,colour and depth at which they are fished means they are most likely being taken for the nymph.

Buzzers this is the name given to the pupae of the non-biting midge, the larvae is the bloodworm. There are many patterns and they are good for fishing different depths, colour and size are usually the factors to consider. buzzers will hatch all year round from still and running water and represent probably half of the fishes diet at any given time.
When they are hatching they rise and fall in the water which is why a slow retrieve is the way forward and why people often fish them under an indicator (it helps impart the rising and falling action)

Bloodworms are the larva of the non-biting midge, small, bright red or green in colour and translucent trout will root about for these when nothing else is hatching, they will grab any they see, a very effective fly fished close to the bottom, they swim with an erratic wriggling type motion that flicks them from side to side so small kicks applied to the fly periodically often trigger a response.

Upwing flies (often called mayflies, although this is wrong as the mayfly is just one species of upwing) look like wee sailing boats on the water, this is what most traditional dryflys are designed to imitate, they are known as ephemeroptera as they only live in fly form for about 3-4 days, when they first hatch they are Duns (sub-imago), beautiful silky creatures in various pastel shades with hazy wings. after a a day or so they moult to become Spinners (adult) and take an a hard shiny body of a brighter colour and their wings become crystal clear.There are many different types and the trout will feast on them if they hatch in numbers, river trout will pick them off regardless of the quantity.

Sedges, these flies usually hatch in darkness and can range from tiny 3mm long to about  3" all sorts of colours, there distinguishing feature is their wings which they hold like a tent over their backs when at rest, they look clumsy when flying compared to upwings.
they have Hairy bodies often a greyish colour, but the wings can be all sorts of colours, a bit like plain butterflies (no gaudy colours). the pupae looks like a fat buzzer and can be a great way to catch fish as they often rise to the surface en-masse. Some of them have really long antennas at their head, known as horns.

Corixae aka the lesser water boatman, these form a large part of the stillwater trouts diet, they are small beetles that live underwater, they have two long paddle type legs that give them their name, they are usually about 5-10mm long. they are active all year and rise to the surface every few mins to get a bubble of air so they can breath underwater, this is when they often get eaten. flies with a shiny butt are quite good although a straight Hares ear nymph/spider is a good imitation. They can fly too.

Montana is a type of nymph originally designed to imitate a stonefly on the rivers of Montana in the states, being large,black and normally having a thorax of green or orange means it is a tempting mouthful for rainbows anywhere, we use it as lure but it does work.

Zonker, this type of fly has a wing/tail made from a  strip of rabbit or mink fur tied to its back, it looks like a mohican hairdo and creates a great sinuous motion in the water like a small fish.Very much a lure and often quite big.

Cats whisker, possibly the best all round lure it has a white wing and tail and a chartreuse body with bead chain eyes, the original is the true cats, but the moniker is liberally applied to any fly with the right colour combination, regardless of size and style.
so many people will say "i caught it on a cats" but it could mean anything white and chartreuse :z6

Will add more later, anyone anything they would like adding?


Jim Eddie

Re: Glossary of fishing terms
« Reply #2 on: 11/01/2008 at 19:21 »
Nah , you are doing a grand job Sadny , you just carry on  :grin




Re: Glossary of fishing terms
« Reply #3 on: 12/01/2008 at 21:34 »
A grand list Spiderman.

Sandy Nelson

Re: Glossary of fishing terms
« Reply #4 on: 15/01/2008 at 18:10 »
Going to be brave now

Rods and their descriptions are very tricky as it gets quite personal with some folk
And we all have tendancy to describe things slightly differently, so i'll try to keep it very simple.
Its taken a few days of playing and writing to try and get the descriptions as accurate and easy as possible :z6


Fast action, this is the term used to describe a rod whose top 1/3rd bends when casting, they are the stiffest rods with the fastest recovery rates.Best for casting distances and for beating the wind, generally good for larger fish as they often have a great reserve of power in the butt section.Very good for picking up long lengths of line of the water to recast and for chucking larger flies. Good timing in your casting is essential to get the rod to work properly, many people overline fast rods in order to control them, a sure sign the rod is more capable than the caster.

Med/fast actions this is a compromise between a fast and medium rod where the top 1/2 of the rod flexes when casting, great distances are achievable in the right hands, but they are more forgiving of casting faults.
very often the higher end rods these days represent this section, You are getting the precision and recovery of the fast rod but the castability of the medium one.A good dry fly rod as it can cope with quick drying casts and still drop a fly with delicacy. Fantastic all round rods.

Medium action, until the compromise of the med/fast action this was the standard rod for most people. the top 2/3rds flex when casting. It is the best allround compromise of casting distance and smoothness.Very forgiving of small casting flaws they can encourage you cast to better, most people find the line rating bang on. great for all sizes of fly and all types of water, it'll cope with medium winds and still lift a decent amount of line all with the reserve to play most fish. You get a bit more feel when playing a fish due to the greater flex of the blank. All in a very pleasant way to fish.

Slow action, full flex rods are not very popular these days, however on small streams with small fish they give great fun. Not so good at picking up great lengths of line or casting quickly to dry flies out, but will roll cast with ease and give fantastic sensations with fish once hooked.

Progressive curve, descibes the way a rod bends, in this case you get a steady decrease in the angle of deflection from tip to butt, good for soaking up the strength of a large fish, especially if its coupled with a fast action.

Compound curve, this type of bend tends to have a distinct change somewhere along the rod, not that common and not that good an idea, unless lots of research and development have proven that they get the change in the right spot.

Modulus is the ability of a fibre to recover from bending, the term is often asscociated with fishing rods and used to describe the action/build of the blank. A high modulus rod is much stiffer and has a faster recovery (fast action), it has the potential to store more energy,they are also more brittle, lower modulus is much smoother and flexible ,less prone to breaking. A blend of various modulus fibres is used to create the action of the rod and its strength.

Scrim is sometimes bandied around, the scrim is a very fine cloth that is used to bind the fibres of carbon together to prevent to wall of the rod collapsing, usually it is fibreglass, but many top end rods use carbon as it is lighter and stronger.

Boron is a material that is added to carbon blanks to help reduce the diameter and weight whilst at the same time making it up to 25% stronger, its an expensive material but very useful, only a few rods contain it in their construction.

Low resin/hi-carbon , this type of construction is becoming the way of the future rod, a low resin hi carbon mix makes a rod that is lighter, stronger, and with a much faster recovery. Less mass means faster recovery.

Recovery rate is the speed it takes the tip to return to rest from a deflection, the faster the recovery the greater the feel and the more pleasant and controllable the rod is. A med/fast action rod with a super fast recovery would be most peoples ideal.

Feel is the subjective term used by most angler to describe what their rod is doing. It is really only a description of the recovery rate, however most people understand it better. Generally A rod with lots of feel means you can feel what the line is doing, when it loads the rod and unloads it. It can also mean how the rod behaves when people do different types of cast.

Tip heavy is a rod where there is greater mass towards the tip,you can feel this even with a reel on, it will by its very existance slow the recovery rate and the rod will feel less alive, modern rods feel lighter than ever as the mass is stripped as much as possible from the tip to speed up the recovery rate, making a much more pleasant rod to fish with.

Loading is the point at which the weight of line outside the tip ring is ideal, when the rod has been charged with the energy you have applied, it is the point at which you will start your forward cast, to unload the energy you have just stored in the rod.

I was going to continue with some casting terms, but i reckon the experts explain this much better.
So if you want any casting terms explained then go to

this is about as comprehensive a list as is humanly possible :z16

« Last Edit: 16/01/2008 at 09:11 by spiderman »


Re: Glossary of fishing terms
« Reply #5 on: 15/01/2008 at 19:38 »
Been fishing for a few years now but every day is an education.  Splendid stuff.   :z16


Re: Glossary of fishing terms
« Reply #6 on: 06/02/2008 at 21:34 »
Great work Spiderman, very intresting.
How about one on fly lines?

Sandy Nelson

Re: Glossary of fishing terms
« Reply #7 on: 08/02/2008 at 06:46 »

How about one on fly lines?

I thought i covered them in the first post :z16

I am struggling to come up with many more basic terms, :z6 so from now on i think if anyone has any specific queries
then we can try to answer them, cheers


Sandy Nelson

Re: Glossary of fishing terms
« Reply #8 on: 24/05/2010 at 02:29 »
One of my own to try and sort out the confusion of terminology :z6

Preferred Plane of Bending - This refers to the natural curve a section of a carbon fiber rod blank will take on when it is subject to compression from tip to butt. This is often mistaken for the spine of the blank. The spine is the area that the blank is at its strongest (usually the overlap in the material) and as such is normally at 90' to the Preferred Plane of Bending.
However for the purpose of rod building it is the Preferred Plane of Bending that we are interested in. By wrapping the guides to the PPB we inherently create a rod that does not want to twist under load, whether that be during casting or playing a fish.
When all the sections have their PPB in alignment the sections will all act together in the same plane, creating a rod that is far nicer to cast with and one that transmits more of that mystical "Feel" to the caster.
There are various theories as to which side to use, but it is generally held that wrapping the guides to the outside of the curve improves line speed during casting and consequently will improve the performance of the rod.