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If you can’t fish like a pro, you can talk like one
Spaulding Outdoors
By Jack Spaulding

Every sport has its own special jargon. These unique literary gems evolve along with the particular sport, and no group is more riddled with slang than the angling crowds.

Probably the angling group with the most and hardest slang for non-anglers to interpret, is the totally addicted bass fishing bunch.

In an attempt to “crack the code” for non-anglers and the dockside, bluegill bunch, veteran professional bass fisherman Yamaha Pro Luke Clausen wades in among the monikers to help make a little sense of the way serious bass anglers talk.

Pick up a paper and pencil and you’ll soon be able to understand what it means to bring home a big sack of hawgs twitched up off beds with a pig n’ jig.

And, when the bass boys and girls say “bumping the stump,” they aren’t talking about poor boat control.

While two “dinks,” a “dog” and a “hawg” is a pretty fair day’s catch, you find a “flasher” is nothing like what you would imagine.

Bass anglers’ terms
Bag: Total number or weight of bass the angler has. Also called a “sack”.
Beds: Nests of bass light-colored circles in gravel.
Blade: Spinnerbait
Brass and glass: A combination of a glass bead and a brass sinker next to each other on the fishing line used to make a clicking noise when the rod is shaken.
Breakline: Any change in the bottom where the weeds end, where the bottom drops off, etc.
Broomstick: A big stiff fishing rod, like a flipping stick.
Buggy whip: A floppy fishing pole.
Bumping the stump: Deliberately running your lure into objects under the water.
Burning: Cranking a lure as fast as you can.
Busting: Bass attacking bait fish on the surface of the water.
Cash a check: Tournament angler slang for telling he or she finished in the money at a tournament.
Carolina Rig: A fishing set-up where the hook is attached to a long leader that is tied to a swivel with a heavy weight above it.
Cover: Any fish-holding stuff that is not part of the actual bottom, such as weeds, brush, submerged trees, docks, etc.
Cut: A small indentation in the shoreline, usually a sharp one.
Dink: A really small bass.
Dog: A really large bass.
Doodling: Fishing one small area by shaking a small plastic bait rigged Texas-style with brass and glass.
Finesse: Any fishing method that uses very light tackle. Also can mean a careful, subtle presentation of the lure.
Flasher: A depth finder that displays flashes of light on a dial to indicate water depth.
Flat: A large flat area under the water.
Flipping: A method of fishing using very stiff rods and heavy line to “flip” a lure into very thick cover from short distances.
French fry: In fishing, refers to the shape of certain popular small lures.
Graph: A depth finder that displays a picture of the bottom and indicates depth.
Hand-pours: Soft plastic lures that are poured into molds by hand. Usually softer than ma-chined lures.
Hawg: A really large bass.
Hole jumper: An angler who fishes in your spot before you can get to it.
Horse: A really large bass.
Jig and pig: A combination of a jig and a pork trailer.
Knees: Roots of trees that are in the water.
Milk run: A series of places that are fished one after the other with a good chance of catching a fish.
Mono: Monofilament line.
Non-boater: The angler who fishes from the back of the boat and doesn’t drive.
On top: Catching a fish on a surface lure.
One-tonner: A big one-ounce leadhead jig.
Pattern: Specific location of active fish for example, one day the pattern could be isolated stumps on flats, and later it could be edges of weed beds. Also means to figure out where to look for fish to pattern the fish.
Pig: A really large bass.
Pitching: A method of fishing like flipping, but done from a little further out from shore. The lure is “pitched” to the cover underhanded to reduce noise.
Plastics: Soft plastic lures like worms, craws, etc.
Plug: A crankbait.
Point: A finger of land of any size that extends out into the water and tapers off.
Rip bait: A minnow-like lure that is jerked through the water in stops and starts.
Run and gun: Racing around the lake from spot to spot, fishing quickly before heading to the next spot.
Sack: See “Bag”
Safe light: The time before sunrise when it becomes light enough to see. This is when tournaments start.
Scent: Any fish attractant used on a lure.
Shaking: A method of fishing, usually covering just a small area, where the lure is shaken so it moves but stays in place.
Sight fishing: To catch bass that the angler sees. Usually these are spawning bass taken off beds.
Slow rolling: To fish a spinnerbait slowly through the water, usually so that it stays on the bottom.
Split-shotting: A method of finesse fishing using a split shot somewhere up the line from the hook and dragging the lure around on the bottom.
Spooning: To lift and lower a lure over and over, keeping it in the level where the fish are staying.
Structure: The features of the lake bottom and shoreline itself such as humps, cliffs, creek channels, etc.
Texas rig: A way of putting a plastic worm on a hook with a sinker right next to it. The hook is embedded so that the point goes through the body of the worm and the lure hangs straight. The sinker can be pegged or slide free.
Thermocline: One of the layers of water in the lake. Usually meant to describe the layer where the fish are. This radical change in temperature can sometimes be seen on a good graph.
Ticking: To make a lure barely touch the cover, usually used when the angler has been fishing weeds or brush.
Toad: A really large bass.
Turn over: The situation that occurs when surface water starts to get cold and sink. It causes the deeper water to come up (colder water sinks lower), mixing up the lake and making fishing really tough.
Waking: To work a lure so that it stays just under the surface, making a wake as it passes through the water.
Walk the dog: To twitch a surface lure so that it darts from side to side as it is retrieved.
Walls: Steep bluffs, cliffs, etc.

If you see a happy tournament angler telling his buddies he got a sack of toads, hawgs, pigs or horses after figuring out the pattern, even though the lake was turning over, causing the thermocline to disappear, and finishes by noting he used a Carolina Rig and it helped him “cash a check,” you’ll know what he’s talking about.

To learn more about fishing, visit the Pro Angler pages at www.yamahaout

Readers with questions can contact Jack Spaulding by e-mail at or by writing to him in care of this publication at P.O. Box 90, Knightstown, IN 46148.

This farm news was published in the May 3, 2006 issue of Farm World.