Fly Fishing Glossary
by Ed Zaun
Fly fishing has many terms, which might be unfamiliar to newer fly fishermen or people who are looking into the sport. For the purposes of clarity, below is a Glossary with some of the more common terms unique to fly fishing.
Back Cast - During the cast, to throw the line behind you in preparation to forward cast, keeping the line and fly in the air.
Backing - A thin line that attaches between the reel and fly line. Backing provides extra running room when playing a fish and provides a larger spool, winding more line per revolution of the reel, which aids in retrieving fish.
Bird’s Nest - A snarled tangle of line. In fly fishing, usually not on the reel, but around legs, pier pilings, seaweed, boat motors, etc…
Butt - 1) Leader: Thickest part of the leader; attaches to the fly line. 2) Fly line: The part that attaches to the backing. 3) Fly fisherman: Where your head must have been to take up this crazy hobby.
Class Tippet - The lightest test line in a leader.
Dead Drift - A method of fly fishing a current. The fly line and fly all drift together in a straight line, allowing the fly to drift drag-free.
Divorce Court - Where you can wind up if you take fishing too far.
Double Taper - A type of fly line. Double Taper is thicker at each end and thinner in the middle. Allows for a delicate presentation of the fly, harder to cast than a Weight Forward Taper.
1) The amount of pressure required to pull line from the reel. 2) Water currents exerting pressure on the fly line, causing the fly to drift un-naturally. 3) Being required to do “Honey-do’s” when you should be fishing.
False Cast - Making a complete cast (Forward and Back) without allowing the fly to touch the water. False casting is done to 1) Change the direction of your cast. 2) Shoot more line into your cast. 3) Timing your cast to coincide with waves. 4) Impress people who are watching you. (Hopefully, you won’t make them laugh at you.)
First Aid Kit - Essential equipment… trust me…See also Thwack
Hackle - Feathers, usually from the neck or saddle (rump) of a chicken. A component commonly used in fly tying to imitate baitfish.
1) Single or Double, a method to put more distance into your cast by tugging on the line during a cast, thereby increasing line speed and loading the rod better.
Loading the Rod - During the cast, to use the inertia and momentum of the line to bend the rod. Loading allows the rod to do most of the work in casting.
Loop - When casting, the bow in the fly line as in unrolls in the air.
Marine Hackle - Bait. Not used in fly fishing. An uncomplimentary term.
Mend - 1) A method of adjusting the fly line when water currents put slack into it. 2) What you must do to your pride when returning home too many times without fish.
Rim Control Reel - A certain type of reel that has part of the spool exposed so the fisherman can palm the reel, controlling drag.
Running Line - A thin type of fly line used with a Shooting Head.
Scrish - See Thwack
Shock Tippet - A heavier section of leader tied between the Class Tippet and the Fly. A Shock Tippet provides greater resistance to abrasion and teeth, allowing the angler more time to play the fish in.
Shoot - 1) During the cast, to allow more line to slip through the rod guides, providing greater distance to the cast. 2) A milder word you will say often when fishing, usually when children are present.
Shooting Head - A specialized type of fly line. Used for long distance casting. It provides a greater weight over a shorter length, making distance casting easier. Used with a running line.
Shooting Taper - See Shooting Head
Split Shot - Same thing as in spin fishing, used for the same purpose. I don’t know why I included it in this Glossary.
Strip - To pull line from the reel during a cast, or when the fly has been cast, to pull line in, imparting action to the fly.
Stripping Basket - A device used to manage the fly line stripped from the reel for the cast and stripped in during the retrieve, but needed for the next cast. A Stripping Basket keeps the line from getting tangled and stepped on.
Thwack - 1) The sound the fly makes when it rebounds off an obstruction during the cast (Not Good). 2) The sound a fly makes when rebounds off you during the cast (Worse, but better than Scrish, which is the sound the fly makes as it imbeds in some body part or other- See First Aid Kit).
Tippet - In general, the end of the leader where the fly is attached.
Weight Forward Taper - A type of fly line, which has the heaviest section in the front, making casting easier with big flies.
Copyright © 1999 - 2013 Ed Zaun, All Rights Reserved
Articles by Ed Zaun