Fishing has its own unique lexicon

A crankbait is not a night crawler with an attitude. And fish beds don't have mattresses.

A novice angler eavesdropping on a conversation between veteran hooks is apt to hear confusing fish-speak.

Like any sport, fishing has its own lingo and it often changes, although more slowly than the tides. So, let's review a few common angling terms:

  • Backlash: A tangle of fishing line in a reel caused by poor or novice casting skills. When a skilled caster, such as myself suffers tangled line, it's called a professional overrun.

  • Bag limit: The number of fish that may be kept legally.

  • Baitcaster: A type of reel where the spool turns to release line; the spool is controlled by the thumb.

  • Bar: An underwater ridge in a lake that tends to attract fish. If there's no fish, the angler seeks a different type of bar on land.

  • Beds: Circular shapes on the bottom, created by various fish species, to lay eggs.

  • Ballbearings: Small metal balls that make a reel work smoothly. Typically, the more ballbearings, the better the reel.

  • Birdnest: See Backlash.

  • Breakline: An abrupt change in bottom depth or content that may attract fish.

  • Chum: Chopped fish or other fish food dispersed into the water to attract gamefish. A seasick fishing partner also is capable of dispersing chum.

  • Disgorger: A hook remover.

  • Drag: The brake on a reel spool that can be set to prevent fish from breaking your line.

  • Drift anchor: A parachute like bag that slows a boat's drift while fishing in windy conditions.

  • Eddy: A calm area of river alongside a river current that often attracts fish, especially where the water changes direction.

  • Felt soles: Used on wading shoes or boots for traction on slippery rock. And it works.

  • Float: A fancy name for a bobber, which is a fancy name for a fish-strike indicator.

  • Fluorocarbon: New fishing line material largely invisible underwater.

  • Hawg: A really big lunker.

  • Hen: A female fish.

  • Jerkbait: A lure type that is twitched or jerked to impart action, hence the name.

  • Lunker: See Hawg.

  • Structure: Any change in bottom depth or material that may attract fish, such as drop-offs, rockpiles, weedbeds and docks.

  • Weedline: Depth in water, shallow or deep, at which aquatic vegetation quits growing. Weedline points and inside bends are fish attractants.

  • Writers: Many words; fewer fish.

    Ron Schara may be reached at ron@mnbound.com.

    Schara's 250-page book, "Ron Schara's Minnesota Fishing Guide" (Tristan Outdoors; $19.95) is available by clicking here or by calling 888-755-3155.

    Ron Schara's short feature, "The Outdoor Beat," airs at 7:55 a.m. ET Sundays on ESPN2. Click here to view this week's show descriptions.