The Vocabulary of Fly Fishing

Fly fishing, like most things, has its own language. Oh sure, it’s English, so it’s not like a totally foreign language that you’d have a hard time figuring out, but, nonetheless, there are plenty of words fly fishermen use that the average person might scratch their head over, wondering what they were talking about.

For the fun of it, why don’t we consider some words associated with fly fishing and try to figure them out, shall we?

What’s an “anadromous fish?” Is it a) a fish born in freshwater who migrates to saltwater to grow and then goes back to freshwater to spawn or b) a transgendered fish? If you picked “a” you’re right! Salmon and steelheads are two examples of anadromous fish.

How about “back cast?” Does it mean a) the second-string cast of a play about fishing that stays in the back until someone gets hurt and then they get the spotlight or b) the back-and-forth motion of the rod and line made behind you, allowing you to place your fly where you want it to go? “B” is the right answer for this one.

“Barb” is a) the lady you go fishing with or b) the backward facing projection cut into a hook? Technically, the answer could be either “a” or “b” or both, but, of course, for fly fishing, the right answer is “b.”

Here’s a funny one to make you smirk: “butt section.” Could it be a) the thicker end of a tapered leader tied to the fly line or b) the last section of the rod at the end of the handle or c) the area on the river where rednecks who need to pull their pants up like to go? Okay, that’s just funny right there! The right answers are both “a” and “b,” though “c” is the funniest.

Finally, what about “terrestrials?” Are they a) E.T.’s (phone home) who like Reese’s Pieces or b) land-based insects who end up being food for fish? If you answered “b” you are correct. Terrestrials mostly get eaten during windy days during the warmer summer months. Hey, fish need to eat!

Want to know more terms used in fly fishing? Call Marble Canyon Outfitters at Lees Ferry to arrange a fishing trip: 1-800-533-7339.

2 Responses to The Vocabulary of Fly Fishing

  1. Will be visiting you in May with the Orange County group. Will there be opportunities for Spey casting? If so, what flies are used? Scandinavia or Skagit?

  2. I thought it was interesting that you mention all these vocab words for fly fishing. My brother is looking to hire fly fishing outfitters but isn’t really a big fisher. I’ll be sure to talk to him about learning the vocabulary first.

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