Bass Fishing Glossary

We have assembled definitions on common and not so common types of fishing words, phrases and terms used in written fishing reports, articles, publications as well as online fishing discussion forums.



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Bass fishing terms and expressions

The included Bass Fishing Glossary will help you understand the fishing lingo found on this site. Looking for definitions of bass fishing terms? Here they are!

We have assembled definitions on common and not so common types of fishing words, phrases and terms used in written fishing reports, articles, publications as well as online fishing discussion forums.

Check back often as we compile the ultimate bass fishing glossary.

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Active Fish:

Bass that are feeding heavily and striking aggressively.


Biological adjustment that increases fitness.

Alabama rig:

castable variation of the “umbrella” rig; Andy Poss is generally recognized as the person who modified the umbrella rig for conventional bass fishing


Simple plant organisms.


Measure of the amount of acid neutralizing bases.


An opening between patches of emergent weeds; also the parallel space separating emergent weeds and the shoreline.


System that prevents reels from spinning in reverse.



an overrun of the spool of a baitcast reel caused by improper spool tension on the part of the angler; sometimes euphemistically referred to as a “professional overrun”


Shallow area off a river or lake usually with a narrow entrance

Bag Limit:

Restriction on the number of fish that an angler may harvest in a day.


Metal, semicircular arm on an open-face spinning reel that engages the line after a cast.


An artificial lure is usually what is meant even though bait can also mean live bait.

Baitcast reel:

a revolving spool fishing reel that is mounted above the rod

Ball-head jig:

jig with round (or “ball”) head

Bank runner:

small bass that are relatively easy to catch and typically spend most of their lives near shore


Major indentation in the shoreline of a lake or reservoir.

Bed fishing:

the tactic of fishing for bass that are holding on or near spawning beds


When a fish takes or touches (or hammers) a bait so that the fisherman feels it. Also known as a hit, bump, or a strike.

Black Bass:

Common term used to describe several types of bass, including the largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass.


slang term for spinnerbait or blade bait

Blade bait:

lure type generally identified by its slim, “blade-like” body and generally made from aluminum and lead


a shoreline tree that has fallen into the water; also known as a “laydown”


a technique that involves casting a big-bladed spinnerbait parallel to the edge of a cliff face and retrieving it rapidly just under the surface


Water of intermediate salinity between seawater and freshwater.


Distinct variation in otherwise constant stretches of cover, structure, or bottom type. Basically anything that “breaks up” the underwater terrain.


an area of transition from one depth to another, one cover type to another, one water temperature to another, one water color to another, one substrate to another or any other transition that could influence bass behavior


one or more of a species of panfish; a commonly used term for bluegill and other panfish


slang term for smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomeiu)

Brown bass:

slang term for smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu)


a man-made collection of brush and woody cover placed in a body of water in order to attract game fish


slang term for largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)


retrieving a lure, usually a spinnerbait, just under the surface so the lure bulges the water without breaking the surface

Bump the stump:

technique by which a lure is retrieved in a manner that brings it into contact with another object so that it ricochets off the object, often generating a reaction strike from bass


a lure with a weighted head, similar to a spinnerbait, and a blade that churns the surface (or “buzzes”) as it is retrieved


retrieve for fishing a spinnerbait in which the blades of the lure are bulging the surface of the water

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Any of several species of weeds, located above the surface or underwater, of the genus Potamogeton.

Carolina rig:

a rigging technique commonly used with soft plastic lures utilizing a swivel and bead to separate the weight (held on the main line and separated from the lure by a swivel) from the hook (at the end of a leader)


the main bed in a river or lake originally shaped by natural or man-made forces


Topwater plug with a dished-out (concave or “cupped”) head designed to make a splash when pulled sharply.


Refers to the depth you are able to see an object (such as your lure) under the water.


An amateur angler who fishes from the back of the professional angler’s boat during a tournament

Cold Front:

A weather condition accompanied by high, clear skies, and a sudden drop in temperature.

Comeback lure:

a lure intended for use immediately after a bass has struck at and missed a different lure; soft plastic baits are common “comeback lures” for anglers who have just missed bass on a spinnerbait or topwater lure

Community hole:

a well-known and frequently fished area where numerous angler have had success


Submerged aquatic plant of the hornwort family typically found in hard water; characterized by stiff, forked leaves.

Countdown lure:

a lure that sinks in the water at a predictable rate


an object, such as vegetation, a stump or rock, that creates an ambush point for a predator


a lure, most often made of wood or plastic, designed to imitate a swimming baitfish, crawfish or other forage item; diving crankbaits generally float at rest and are characterized by a plastic or metal bill that allows them to be pulled (“dive”) under the water on the retrieve; lipless crankbaits typically sink and run deepest on a slow retrieve and shallowest on a fast retrieve

Crashing (Matt Fishing):

casting directly into thick vegetation mats or bushes with a forceful, short cast; typically, a heavy, bullet shaped weight is used to break through the cover and pull a worm or other soft plastic lure into the open water below the canopy

Craw worm:

soft plastic bait, one half of which emulates a crawfish and the other half of which emulates the shaft of a plastic worm body

Creature bait:

a bulky soft plastic bait with several appendages; most popular for flipping, pitching and Carolina rigging

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Working a lure up and down in the same spot a dozen or more times in a bush or beside a tree.

Darter-head jig:

jig with an arrowhead-shaped head


technique by which a bait is cast and allowed to lie motionless (or with no motion imparted by the angler) for long periods of time


a crankbait designed to run 10 feet deep or more


sonar unit used to anglers to locate and identify underwater features, including fish


sonar unit used to anglers to locate and identify underwater features, including fish

Do Nothing:

technique developed by Charlie Brewer using light spinning tackle to swim a small, weighted plastic worm with a steady retrieve


a soft plastic bait fishing technique utilizing a basic Texas rig which has been modified by placing a plastic or glass bead between the sinker and the hook and shaking the rod tip during the retrieve to create noise


to scale down tackle or lures for a more finesse approach


a mechanical device built into a reel that, when engaged, exerts an adjustable range of pressure on the spool to permit a controlled release of fishing line from the reel; a properly utilized drag prevents line from breaking or hooks from pulling out when fish are hooked

Drop shotting:

a fishing technique whereby a worm hook is attached directly to the line above a sinker; typically, a soft plastic bait is affixed to the hook and the rig is presented more or less vertically


an abrupt change in bottom contour, typically at the juncture of a flat and channel; a ledge



The branch of biology dealing with the relationship between organisms and their environment.


Refers to the borders created by a change in the structure or vegetation in a lake. Some examples of edges are tree lines, weed lines, and the edge of a drop-off.

Elite Series angler:

a professional angler in the Bassmaster Elite Series

Emergent Vegetation:

plants rooted in the lake bottom, but their leaves and stems extend out of the water. They grow in wetlands and along the shore, where the water is typically 4 or 5 feet deep.

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Fan Cast:

Making a series of casts only a few degrees apart to cover a half circle (more or less).

Farm Pond:

Small manmade body of water.

Feeder Creek:

Tributary to a stream, river, creek or lake.

Feeding Times:

Certain times of the day when fish are most active. These are associated with the position of the sun and moon and are referred to as solunar tables (also called moon charts) and are predictable for any time and place. See Moon Times.

Feeding Cycle:

Certain regular intervals during which bass satisfy their appetites. Examples: Major or Minor Solunar periods; sunrise, sunset.

Finesse fishing:

technique by which small and/or slow moving lures are used to generate feeding strikes from lethargic bass; commonly regarded as the opposite of power fishing


sonar unit used to anglers to locate and identify underwater features, including fish


the practice of inserting a hypodermic needle through the skin of a bass to release air from the fish’s swim bladder; this method is best left to trained personnel to ensure survival of fish caught from deep water; typically, the fish is held underwater during the procedure, and the needle “fizzes” when it enters the swim bladder


an expanse of bottom with relatively little change in bottom contour or water depth

Flipping (originally “flippin'”):

a fixed-line presentation technique invented by Dee Thomas by which a lure (usually a jig or soft plastic bait) is propelled underhand in pendulum fashion to a point a short distance (usually about 15-18 feet) away

Flipping Stick:

Heavy action fishing rod, 7 to 8 feet long, designed for bass fishing.


technique utilizing a long (typically 8 feet and longer) spinning rod, light line, float and small jig to target suspended bass, especially winter smallmouth

Florida rig:

soft plastic lure rigged self-weedless with a screw-in style slip sinker


a hair jig with small pork rind trailer

Football jig:

jig with football-shaped head; popular for fishing deep water structure and cover, especially rocks


Small baitfish, crayfish and other creatures that bass eat. May also be used in the sense of the bass looking for food (foraging).


Weather system that causes changes in temperature, cloud cover, precipitation, wind and barometric pressure.

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GPS (Global Positioning System):

electronic devices that use transmissions from an array of satellites to aid in navigation and to show precise position, usually on a chart or map


any fish species that is pursued by anglers primarily for sport purposes and not for its value as table fare

Gear Ratio:

Measure of a reels’ retrieve speed; the number of times the spool revolves for each complete turn of the handle.


a molded plastic lure normally threaded onto a jighead

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The place in nature where a plant or animal species lives. The water, vegetation, and all that makes up the lake, which is where bass live. Habitat, for other creatures, is also in the woods and cities, it’s basically a term used to indicate a “living area” or home environment.

Hard bait:

any lure made predominantly of hard plastic, wood, composite or other hard materials

Hard Bottom:

Area in a body of water with a solid base – clay, gravel, rock, sand. The type of bottom that you would not sink far, if at all, were you to walk on it.


slang term for large bass of any species

Hole jumping:

the practice of knowingly fishing a location that was previously discovered to be productive by someone else — usually another competitor in a tournament; it is generally considered to be unethical, though it may not be against any rules

Honey hole:

an extremely productive fishing spot

Hook set:

the process by which the hook is driven into the mouth of a fish


An area higher than the surrounding area. A submerged dam or island might be considered a hump.

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The branch of zoology that deals with fishes – their classification, structure, habits, and live history.

Inactive Fish:

Bass that are in a non-feeding mood. Examples of typically inactive times: following a cold front; during a major weather change that causes a sudden rise or fall in water temperature, or when a rising lake lever is abruptly lowered.

In-line spinner:

a straight-shaft lure with one or more spinner blades attached to the fore and a dressed single or treble hook in the rear

Inside Bend:

The inside line of a grass bed or a creek channel.

Isolated Structure:

A possible holding spot for bass; examples include a single bush on a point; a midlake hump, or a large tree that has fallen into the water.

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a lipped, minnow shaped plug normally retrieved with a jerking motion of the rod tip


a weighted head molded around a single, upturned hook with a rubber, silicone or hair skirt affixed to dress the hook


the combination of a jig and pork rind or soft plastic trailer typically used to emulate a crawfish


the combination of a jig and pork rind or soft plastic trailer typically used to emulate a crawfish


typically a flat bottomed aluminum or wood boat with bench-type seating and commonly used to fishing on small bodies of water

Jump fishing:

the practice of targeting schooling fish that are obviously feeding on baitfish near the surface

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A bass that conforms to a specific minimum length limit established by tournament organizations and/or state fisheries department.

Kentucky bass:

term commonly used to refer to spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus)

Kneel and reel:

a presentation and retrieve technique in which the angler kneels in the boat and keeps his rod tip under the water while retrieving a deep diving crankbait, thereby getting maximum diving depth from the lure

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a shoreline tree that has fallen into the water; also known as a “blowdown”


an edge of a flat or gently sloping bottom that is cut by any channel or other feature so as to create a sharp dropoff


feature on a baitcast reel that lays the line evenly across the spool as line is being retrieved

Light Intensity:

The amount of light that can be measured at certain depths of water; the greater the intensity, the farther down the light will project. This measurement can be significantly affected by wind conditions and water clarity. In waters where light intensity is low, brightly colored lures are smart choices.

Line Guides:

Rod rings through which fishing line is passed.

Line tie:

the portion of a lure where the line is tied onto it

Lipless crankbait:

a sinking crankbait that has no diving lip; its depth is controlled by the speed of the retrieve, angle at which the rod is held, line size and other factors


landing a bass by grasping its lower lip between the thumb and fingers and pulling it from the water


container used to maintain bass or other baitfish or game fish alive, usually by use of an aeration system

Locking through:

the process of passing through navigation locks and dams on a body of water


A group of horizontal logs pushed together by wind or water flow to form an obstruction. In lakes, logjams are usually found close to shore and in the backs of coves.

Loop knot:

any of several different knots tied with a fixed loop; these knots are often used in lieu of split rings or snaps to give lures more freedom of movement


slang term for large bass of any species

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an on-board observer in the Bassmaster Elite Series. Marshals ensure the integrity of competition by reporting rules violations to BASS tournament officials as well as assist by operating technological devices such as BASSTrakk and BASSCast. As randomly paired on-board observers, Marshals also witness first-hand a full day of tournament fishing with the best anglers in the world, the Bassmaster Elite Series pros. BASS members 16 years of age or older are eligible to participate.


vegetation growing from the bottom of a lake or stream that has reached the surface and spread out to create a dense canopy; this cover can provide excellent shelter for bass; mats are typically fished using the pitching and flipping techniques

Match the hatch:

mimicking the size and color of insects, baitfish or other prey; a term popularized by fly fishermen targeting trout feeding on insect hatches, but applicable to all types of fishing

Medium runner:

a crankbait designed to run 5-10 feet deep


any small jig that must be cast with ultralight tackle

Micropterus Salmoides:

Scientific term for largemouth bass.

Migration Route:

The path followed by bass when moving from one area to another.


Surface-growing aquatic plants.

Mojo rig:

a variation on split shotting utilizing a cylindrical weight held in place on the line by a rubber peg or strands of rubber; a finesse technique typically involving light line and small soft plastic baits


a nickname for largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)

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a non-competing individual who accompanies an angler on his boat during competition

Off Color:

Refers to the color and or clarity of the water. Brown is muddy like from rain runoff, greenish from algae and black from tannic acid are the normal off-color conditions.

Open-face reel:

slang term for spinning reel, a fixed spool fishing reel mounted below the rod and commonly used by anglers when fishing light lines or small lures

Outside Bend:

The outside line of a creek channel or grass bed can be considered on outside bend.


A U-shaped bend in a river or creek.

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soft plastic design with a large, flat tail resembling a paddle

Pattern fishing:

the practice of targeting areas which share the exact set of water conditions such as depth, cover, structure, temperature, clarity, currents, etc., which have produced bass at similar locations all over the same body of water


Initials that stand for Personal Floatation Device; also called a life vest.


affixing a weight to the fishing line so that it cannot slide up or down the line; pegging is typically accomplished with a toothpick, rubber peg or strips of rubber


This is a measurement for liquids to determine whether they are acidic or alkaline. On a scale of one to ten, seven is considered neutral. Below seven the liquid is acidic and above seven it is alkaline. This is a factor that plays a role in the health of the lake and the fish as well as where the fish may be found in a lake.


a presentation technique by which a lure is pitched and skips underneath overhanging cover such as a boat dock


a underhanded casting method which resembles a modified flipping cast; the bait is swung forward by raising the rod tip, and then allowed to travel forward by free-spooling the line; pitching is most commonly used to present a lure to targets that are just out of range of flipping


a diverse group of organisms that live in the water column of large bodies of water and that cannot swim against a current. They provide a crucial source of food to many large aquatic organisms, such as fish and whales.

Plastic worm:

a molded soft plastic lure designed to imitate a worm, eel or snake; plastic worms are manufactured in numerous sizes, shapes and colors


A small indentation of the shoreline.


A finger of land jutting into the water; deeper water is usually found just beyond the exposed tip and along the length of both sides. Fishing on and around points is often exceptionally rewarding. They almost always hold fish.


a technique in which the angler clears a hole in floating vegetation so that he or she can then present a lure through the hole


the period immediately after the spawn when female bass frequently are exhausted from laying eggs and protecting their beds; the period leading into the summer season


the point at which line breaks when pulled with a specific amount of pressure

Power fishing:

technique by which large and/or fast-moving lures are used to create reaction strikes from bass; commonly regarded as the opposite of finesse fishing


practicing for a tournament


A collective term referring to choice of type of lure, color, and size; structure targeted; amount of disturbance a bait makes when entering the water; and retrieval technique, speed, and depth used to catch fish. This refers to the circumstances and manner (speed and direction, etc.) in which a lure is presented to a fish.


the period shortly before spawning begins when big bass typically invade shallow water and feed voraciously


technique for fishing heavy matted cover (generally vegetation) with a soft plastic lure by which a slip sinker is pegged to the bait and the bait is cast, flipped or pitched into cover so that the sinker pulls the bait through the cover canopy and to the desired area below


A very few of the nation’s top bass fishermen can truly claim the word professional. Not only must the pro be a consistent money winner on the major tournament circuits, but he or she must also be articulate, a good salesperson, present a clean-cut image, and have the ability to teach others to catch fish.

Professional Overrun:

A polite term for backlash.

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Reaction baits:

lures fished in a way that causes a bass to strike out of reflex or surprise; spinnerbaits, crankbaits and lipless crankbaits are frequently fished in a manner designed to generate reaction bites

Ribbon tail:

soft plastic design with a flat, undulating tail resembling a ribbon


retrieve technique frequently used for jerkbaits in which the lure is violently and rapidly pulled forward (“ripped”) before being paused


rocks piled along bridge abutments and banks of rivers and lakes to prevent erosion

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Deep-water bass habitat.


a group of bass or other fish congregated in a small area


a group of bass chasing baitfish to the surface, where they feed in groups; also called “jumps”


a prolific baitfish that serves as the primary food fish for bass in reservoirs and rivers, especially in the South; the most common types of shad are threadfin and gizzard

Shaky head:

a special leadhead jig designed for rigging a worm weedless and used in the shaking technique


fishing technique in which a straight-tail worm is threaded onto a plain jighead and shaken in a location where bass are believed to be


a crankbait designed to run 5 feet deep or less


any of several subspecies of baitfish characterized by silver or golden scales along their sides; size generally runs from 2 to 12 inches

Short Strike:

When a fish hits at a lure and misses it.

Sight fishing:

targeting bass that are visible to the angler


a casting method that propels a bait under overhanging cover such as a dock, trees or bushes; the force of the sidearm cast causes the bait to skip over the surface and under the cover

Slack Line:

The loose line from the tip of the rod to the lure. This can be a slight bow in the line to an excess of line lying on the water.

Slip sinker:

a weight, usually conical in shape, commonly used when fishing soft plastic baits

Slow rolling:

retrieve method most commonly associated with spinnerbaits in which the lure is retrieved just fast enough to make the blade(s) turn (“roll”) and the lure crawls across the bottom


a hook setting technique in which the hook is set with a quick flip (or “snap”) of the wrist

Soft jerkbait:

a soft plastic baitfish imitation typically rigged with a wide gap hook and no weight


an acronym for SOund, NAvigation and Ranging, the technology which makes “depthfinders” or “fishfinders” possible; often used as a synonym for “depthfinder” or “fishfinder”


the time during which bass reproduce by building beds or nests, laying eggs and protecting eggs and fry; the timing of the spawn is related to water temperature and occurs in spring in most parts of the country


a lure characterized by a “V”-shaped wire frame with one or more spinner blades fixed to one of the wire shafts and a weighted hook dressed with rubber, silicone, hair, soft plastic or other material on the other shaft

Spinning reel:

a fixed spool fishing reel mounted below the rod and commonly used by anglers when fishing light lines or small lures; also known as an “open-face reel”

Split shotting:

a variation on slip shotting utilizing a split shot pinched on the line above the hook; a finesse technique typically involving light line and small soft plastic baits


The act of alarming a fish in a negative way. Examples: excessive noise, casting a human shadow.


A metal, plastic or wooden lure often manufactured with a metallic finish to imitate a minnow; jigging spoons are straight slabs of metal that are hopped up and down directly beneath the boat where bass are holding in deep water; swimming spoons are lighter and shaped more like a spoon; they are meant for retrieving through shallow water, including weedy areas


a hard or soft lure that is generally long and slender and designed to emulate a baitfish


a slender, cigar-shaped soft plastic bait laden with salt or other materials to make it sink quickly; stickworms are typically Texas- or wacky-rigged and fished without a weight; the lure is cast, allowed to settle briefly, then lifted and allowed to sink again


Stationary structure – stump, limb, section of pipe, fence post – that extends about 5 feet or less above the surface; a favorite casting target of bass fishermen.

Stinger hook:

an extra hook attached to the back hook of a spinnerbait, buzzbait or other lure designed to catch fish that miss the lure’s main hook; also called a “stinger hook”

Strike zone:

the area around an individual bass in which the fish will strike a lure; if a fish is willing to swim away from its ambush spot to hit a lure, it is said to have a large strike zone


a jig fishing technique in which the angler sharply jumps the bait up off the bottom and allows it to fall back on a slack line


contour changes on the lake’s or stream’s substrate; channels, dropoffs, flats and points are all examples of structure


condition used to describe bass that are holding at some point in the water column between the surface and the bottom


any of a loose group of lures that emulate baitfish and are frequently characterized by their large size in relation to other bass lures; swimbaits may be soft or hard lures, lipped or not lipped and one piece or jointed


landing a bass by raising it into the boat or onto the bank with the rod; this practice is generally discouraged if the fish is allowed to fall to the deck of the boat or onto the bank since it could harm the fish and reduce its chances for survival once released

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the area below a dam, typified by irregu¬lar currents and upwellings


a lure consisting of a slab of lead or other weighted material with a swivel and spinner blade affixed to the rear which turn as the bait falls or is retrieved

Terminal Tackle:

Angling equipment, excluding artificial baits, attached to the end of a fishing line; examples include hooks, snaps, swivels, snap-swivels, sinkers, floats, and plastic beads.

Texas rig:

a method of rigging a soft plastic in which a conical sinker is threaded onto the line before tying on a hook; the lure is then threaded onto the hook in such a manner that the hook point is concealed in the lure, making it relatively snagless


a distinct layer in the water column in which temperature changes more rapidly with depth than it does in the layers above or below; a thermocline may be a permanent feature of the body of water, or it may form temporarily in response to phenomena such as the solar heating of surface water during the day


coastal rivers, streams and lakes on which depth and water flow is affected by tidal movements

Topwater lure:

an artificial bait fished across the surface of the water; typically, a floating lure


a hook, spinner blade, pork rind/frog or soft plastic bait attached to the back hook of a lure and designed to provide extra attraction

Trailer hook:

an extra hook attached to the back hook of a spinnerbait, buzzbait or other lure designed to catch fish that miss the lure’s main hook; also called a “stinger hook”


The imaginary line where one type of bottom material changes to another.

Trolling Motor:

A small electric fishing motor, typically mounted on the bow, that is used as secondary boat propulsion, for boat positioning, and to maneuver quietly in fishing areas.

Tube bait:

any of a variety of soft plastic lures with a hollow cavity


adjusting the line tie or other component of a lure (typically a crankbait or spinnerbait) to alter the running direction or action of the bait


The period when the cold water on the surface of a body of water descends and is replaced by warmer water from below.

Twitch bait:

slang term for jerkbait

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Umbrella rig:

an array of four or more artificial lures or baits (with or without hooks) cast or trolled by a single rod and reel combination and attached by a wire or other harness; a popular trolling rig for striped bass and other pelagic species

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Vertical Movement:

Up and down movement of fish. Can also be movement of a lure such as a spoon (verticaljigging).

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Wacky rig:

rigging method by which a soft plastic bait is hooked through the middle and fished without a weight


retrieve technique by which a lure just under the water bulges the surface

Walking the dog:

retrieve technique by which the lure moves in a zigzag pattern — like a dog pulling back and forth on a leash; caused by twitching the rod tip and reeling simultaneously in a specific cadence


a trophy bass

Water column:

the vertical cross section of a water body


a device, usually plastic or wire, affixed to a lure so as to cover the hook point(s), thereby making it relatively snagless


A description of a lure designed to be fished in heavy cover with a minimum amount of snagging.


Abrupt edge of a weedbed caused by a change in depth, bottom type, or other factor.

Wing dam:

a man-made barrier that, unlike a conventional dam, only extends partway into a river or stream; typically designed to force water into a fast-moving center channel to reduce the rate of sediment accumulation while slowing water flow and erosion near the riverbanks


The act of fishing with a plastic worm, lizard, crawfish, or similar bait.

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retrieve technique in which the lure is presented vertically in an up-and-down motion; commonly used with jigging spoons or tailspinners

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