Sports - Game angling
Action of a flyfishing rod A rod may flex mainly towards its tip, from the tip through to the middle, or all the
way through from tip to butt. Tip-action rods are also called 'fast-action', because they very quickly regain
straightness once pressure is released. At the other extreme, 'through-action' or 'slow-action' rods tend to bounce
back and forth for much longer before settling. With a tip-action rod you will cast further and more accurately;
however, fish are more likely to break your leader than if you use a rod with a slower action. A good all-round
compromise is a rod with 'middle-action', flexing mainly in the tip and middle regions: it is fairly easy to cast
and good at absorbing the shocks of a leaping fish. AFTMA# A code, established by the American Fishing Tackle
Manufacturers' Association, defining the weights of various flyfishing lines. Lines in common use range from
AFTMA#4, used with lightweight trout rods and very fine leader tippets, through to AFTMA#12 used with powerful
double-handed salmon rods.
Backcast When the fly line is cast behind you prior to launching it forwards across the water.
Backing At least 50 yards of braided Dacron, strong monofilament nylon or other material tied on to a flyfishing
reel before the fly line itself to pack out the centre of the spool and to act as a reserve in case a powerful fish
makes a long run away from you.
Braided backing or nylon with an oval cross-section are less likely to tangle than ordinary nylon of circular
cross-section; they do cost more, however.
Belly The thicker, constant diameter section of a flyfishing line.
Blood knot A 'tucked half blood knot' is commonly used to ties the fly on to the end of the leader. A double
blood knot can be used to join two lengths of nylon of dissimilar diameters when making up a tapered leader;
however, a water knot is a lot easier to tie - especially if your hands are cold and wet.
The end of a flyfishing rod that you hold when casting; the handle is on the butt section.
The thick end of a tapering leader.
Buzzer The adult stage of a family of small diptera flies known as the chironomids. The larval and, in
particular, the pupal stages of the life cycle are of great importance to stillwater trout fishers. Swarms of these
non-biting midges make quite a buzzing sound in flight - hence their common name.
Caddis fly Also know as sedge flies, the scientific name for insects in this order is Trichoptera. All caddis
flies have four wings, which when at rest they park in 'ridge-tent' fashion along their bodies, and two antennae -
often longer than the body. Caddis flies develop via a complete metamorphosis: egg, larva, pupa and finally adult.
Sedge flies of rivers and lakes...
Cape The skin and feathers from the neck of a game bird. The best quality capes are from birds specially bred
for the quality of the hackle feathers from their capes.
Carbon rods Plain amorphous carbon would be useless as a fishing rod material. Rod makers use graphite fibres to
reinforce epoxy resins and other hard-setting, flexible materials. The rod material is wrapped onto a former,
called a mandrel, heat treated and ground to a smooth finish; this is then called a carbon blank. The handle, rings
and reel fittings are fitted to the carbon blank.
Casting The process of using the rod and line to project a fly across the water. There are many methods of
casting, some ideally suited to particular difficult situations, such as when there is very little or no room for
using a conventional backcast.
Cast An old-fashioned term for a leader. Casts were often made from natural materials (called 'cat gut'), but
better synthetic alternatives have now become universally more popular. Co-polymer Modern leader and tippet
materials that are stronger than conventional nylon and less affected by exposure to ultra-violet light. For the
same tippet diameter, and co-polymer leader is very much stronger than a traditional nylon one. Some makes are also
less visible when submerged.
Damselfly Damselflies are relatives of the dragonflies; their slow-crawling nymphs are an important source of
food for trout in shallow lakes and slow-flowing rivers.
Drag The river fisher's enemy when using dry flies that ought to drift naturally on the current. Conflicting
surface currents, caused by natural river turbulence, pull different parts of the line and leader in different
directions, but since the line and leader are not very stretchy, the fly is also dragged back and forth
unnaturally. A dragging dry fly rarely tempts wise old trout, although when fishing with sedge imitations drag can
sometimes help you imitate the skittering behaviour of the natural insect.
Drag adjustment On a fly reel this is a mechanism that adjusts the amount of force necessary to take line from
the reel. Adjusting the drag setting correctly ensures that the reel does not overrun (spin too quickly and so
allow the line to become a tangled 'birds nest'). The drag setting can also help when playing a fish, although most
anglers prefer to use finger friction on the rim of the reel to control the strain on the line. Dry fly An
artificial fly intended to float on the surface an imitate either an insect that has just emerged from its larval
or nymphal form, an insect falling on to the surface, or one touching down to lay eggs.
DT or Double-taper - A flyfishing line in which the last ten or twelve yards of line at each end taper away from
a level middle section (the 'belly'). DT lines are ideal for short range fishing and for making roll and Spey
casts; weight forward (WF) lines are better suited to shooting line a long way. At close range, both lines give
very similar results. When one end of a DT begins to wear out, the line can be turned round on the reel and its
life extended - something you cannot do with a WF line.
DTF means a floating line with a double taper profile, while DTS indicates a sinking line with the same
Dun The first winged form of an upwinged fly of the order Ephemeroptera.
Emerger An insect in the process of leaving its larval or pupal stage (commonly, but incorrectly, referred to as
'hatching'). The term emerger is applied particularly to those insects that transpose to a winged form at the water
surface, as well as to artificial flies intended to imitate insects that are going through such a
False cast Casting the fly backwards and forwards without allowing it to alight on the water. False casting may
be used to lengthen (and less frequently to shorten) line, to change direction, or to dry off a fly that has become
Floatant A chemical that applied to a dry fly to make it more waterproof. Floatants are also available to help
prevent parts of the leader Those well away from the fly) from sinking in turbulent water. Oily liquid floatants
are most popular, but aerosol and powder floatants are also used.
Floater A flyfishing line the whole of which is designed to float on the surface of the water.
Forward cast The part of a casting action where the line is projected in front of the angler and alights on the
water. An efficient, smooth backcast is crucial to good presentation on the forward cast.
Forward taper A flyfishing line well suited to long range casting but still able to present a fly delicately at
short range. The profile of a forward taper line, more commonly known as a Weight Forward (and coded WF), typically
comprises a ten yard section tapering away from the fly, a constant-diameter belly of between eight and twelve
yards, and another ten yard taper back down to a fine 'shooting' line some ten to fifteen yards long. Manufacturers
vary these lengths to provide lines best suited to either long distance casting or gentler presentation of the
Graphite rods A more strictly accurate way of referring to carbon fishing rods. Most modern rods are of graphite
construction. Grilse Small salmon that have spent just one winter out at sea before returning to the river of their
birth. Most grilse weigh between 4 lb and 6 lb.
Hackle A feather, usually from the neck area of a cockerel, tied as part of the dressing of a dry fly and
representing the legs of an insect, or in the dressing of a wet fly, either as a 'throat hackle' or to represent
the legs of a drowning insect. Dry flies are best tied with good quality hackles, and game birds are bred
especially to supply dry fly 'capes'. Hatch Although the change from egg to larva or nymph is, strictly speaking,
the only hatch in the life-cycle of an insect, anglers use this term to describe the process whereby a winged adult
fly emerges from a nymph or pupa and leaves the water.
Intermediate A flyfishing line that sinks very slowly. Top of page...
Keel hook A hook designed so that when a wet fly is tied on it and retrieved slowly it swims with the hook point
uppermost and so is much less likely to catch on weed or stones. Top of page...
Larva The immature, aquatic stage of diptera (such as the buzzer), caddis, water beetles and several other kinds
of insects. It is as larvae that such insects grow from a tiny egg to their full size; they then turn into pupae
and finally winged adults.
Leader Nylon or other flexible plastic line connected between the end of the flyfishing line and the artificial
fly. To cast well, a leader should taper in diameter, being thickest at the fly line and much thinner (and hence
less visible to the fish) where the fly is attached.
Mayflies In the UK this name is generally reserved for insects of the genus Ephermera, and Ephemera danica and
Ephemera vulgata are the two species anglers come across. They are members of the upwinged or Ephemeroptera order -
a name derived from their very short lifetimes as winged insects. In the USA, the term mayflies is applied to all
Ephemeroptera. The eggs hatch into nymphs, which develop gradually over usually twelve months before emerging from
the water as duns. The duns shed a skin and become spinners, which are the final mature adult flies.
Magnificent Seven Seven artificial flies you can buy at all good tackle shops and that will enable you to match
the hatch reasonably well in most situations on river, streams and lakes. They are: Greenwells Glory; Tups
Indispensable; Gold-ribbed hare's Ear Nymph; Red Sedge; Coch-y-Bonddu (a beetle imitation); Olive Suspender Buzzer;
and Damselnymph. The first six you will need in hook sizes 12, 14 and 16; the Damselnymph will need to be tied on
size 8 or 10 long-shank hooks. Matching the hatch Selecting an artificial fly of such a size, shape, colour and
surface footprint (the pattern of disturbance it makes to the water surface) that a fish is likely to mistake it
for the real insect on which it is feeding. Also referred to as 'imitative flyfishing'. Matching the Hatch, by Pat
Memory When nylon or a flyfishing line have been on a spool for some time, they may take up the shape of the
spool and fall into curly coils that do not cast easily and refuse to lie straight on the water. If this curliness
remains even after stretching the line, it will serious affect your ability to cast and to catch fish. Line memory
is a bad thing; the ideal amount of line memory is zero, and some modern flyfishing lines come very close to this
ideal... but not all.
Mending A technique of ensuring that a flyfishing line lies on the water in such a way that a faster current
over one part of the surface does not result in the fly being swept rapidly across the surface. This is therefore a
method of minimising drag. It can be achieved by working the rod so as to flick a section of the line upstream;
alternatively (and generally preferable because it avoids disturbing the water surface) it is possible to cast a
ready-mended line - something best learned from a qualified flyfishing instructor.
Midge The adult stage of a family of small diptera flies known as the chironomids. The larval and, in
particular, the pupal stages of the life cycle are of great importance to stillwater trout fishers. Swarms of these
non-biting midges make quite a buzzing sound in flight - hence their other common name of buzzers.
Multiplier When applied to a flyfishing reel, this term means that the reel contains a gear train so that when
the handle is turned once the drum rotates more than one turn. Most multiplier reels have a ratio of around
Needle knot A superb knot for attaching the butt of a leader to a fly line. Using a needle, the leader butt is
pushed up through the center of the fly line and out through the side. A whip knot is then tied above the exit
point. The needle knot can also be used to join monofilament nylon backing and fly line.
Nymph The immature, underwater stage in the life-cycle of several kinds of upwinged flies, stoneflies and
damselflies. Some nymphs can swim agilely, but most species are slow moving.
Nymphing A trout is said to be nymphing when it is feeding mainly on immature insects near or on the bed of a
river. The term is also used to describe an angler fishing with an artificial fly shaped like a nymph and weighted
so that it sinks below the surface, where the angler hopes the trout will mistake it for the real thing. It sounds
easy, but nymphing requires good eyesight and very rapid reactions; it is often a way of catching large trout that
would not bother to rise for a floating fly.
Presentation The accuracy and delicacy with which a fly is cast to the required spot. Bad presentation either
makes a splash or causes the fly to behave in an unnatural way - for example because of drag.
Pupa An almost inert, non-feeding stage in the life-cycle of buzzers, sedge flies and several other kinds of
insects. The larval stage occurs between the larva and winged adult stages.
Retrieve Pulling the fly back through the water to represent the swimming motion of a nymph, larva or small
fish. the motion you impart by either retrieving jerkily or smoothly, quickly or slowly, should be appropriate to
the kind of living creature your fly is meant to represent.
Roll cast A way of making a forward cast when there is no room for a backcast. It is important to aim high,
rather than driving the rod tip down towards the surface of the water; otherwise the roll cast can result in very
poor presentation. The Spey cast is a more elegant and less energy-sapping alternative.
Single action Refers to a flyfishing reel in which the handle is attached directly to the spool, so that one
turn of the handle causes the spool to rotate once. Most flyfishers use reels of this type, which have very little
in them to go wrong.
Spey cast Sinker A fly line all of which is designed to sink beneath the surface of the water. Various rates of
sinking are available, from almost neutral density intermediate lines (with a very slow sink rate) to lead-cored
lines that go down rapidly and allow you to fish near the bed of a fast flowing river or a very deep lake.
Spinner The mature adult stage in the life-cycle of an upwinged fly, such as a mayfly. Once spinners have mated,
the males die and the females return to the water to lay their eggs, either on the surface or by crawling down
emergent vegetation and attaching their eggs to stems or sticks below the surface.
Spare spool A replacement drum section of a flyfishing reel. If you intend fishing with floating and sinking
lines, keeping one of the lines on a spare spool makes it is possible simply to swap lines quickly without going to
the expense of buying two complete reels.
Stoneflies Aquatic insects that go through a life-cycle of egg, larva and adult - there is no dun stage. Most
stonefly nymphs transpose ('hatch') to adults by crawling to the shallows and emerging from its nymphal case on
rocks or emergent vegetation. The edge of a stream is therefore usually the best place to fish with an artificial
Streamer flies Large artificial patterns tied not as copies of insects but rather to represent small fishes. The
'wing' representing the small fish's back and flanks is usually tied either of long feathers extending behind the
bend of the hook.
Taper The section of a fly line or a leader comprising a stepped or gradual transition from a large diameter to
a much smaller diameter. Such a taper is essential for good presentation of a fly.
Tapered leader Leaders have to taper from a large diameter where the butt joins the fly line to a much finer
diameter at the tippet to which the fly will be attached. The taper can be factory manufactured, with the diameter
decreasing progressively from butt to tippet; alternatively, but with some small loss in presentation, you can
construct your own step-tapered leaders using short lengths of nylon of breaking strains from (for example if you
are making a trout-fishing leader for a lightweight outfit) 20 lb to 3 lb.
Tippet The fine part of a leader to which the fly is attached. As you change flies, so the tippet gets gradually
shorter until eventually you need to tie on a new length of tippet.
Turn-over The turn-over that you achieve is a key part of presentation. If the fly line goes exactly where you
want but the leader and fly fall to one side, behind the end of the fly line, or in a crumpled heap, you are not
getting a good turn-over. A tapered leader is essential to good turn-over if you are casting small, lightweight
flies. There can be several reasons for poor turn-over, but a qualified flyfishing instructor should be able to see
immediately what is causing your particular problem.
U-V or Ultra-violet - Light rays of very short wavelength that are present in sunlight. U-V waves cause plastics
to deteriorate, and so it is essential to store flyfishing lines (even those on reels and spare spools) away from
sunlight. Leader material and backing nylon is also susceptible to such damage.
Wet fly A fly designed to sink below the surface. Traditional wet fly patterns have swept-back wings that make
them look like small fish or spidery, soft hackles that wriggle in turbulent water and are thought to give the
illusion of an insect that is drowning. The term wet fly fishing (as opposed to dry fly fishing) is applied to
nymph fishing, traditional wet fly fishing and to lure fishing - a technique of luring reservoir trout using flashy
flies that may bear little or no resemblance to any of the creatures on which trout feed but which stimulate their
aggressive instincts. WF or Weight forward - A fly line designed for easy casting at long range. Most of the weight
of the line is in its forward section (nearest to the leader and the fly). The profile of a Weight Forward line
(coded WF) typically comprises a ten-yard section tapering away from the fly, a constant-diameter belly of between
eight and twelve yards, and another ten-yard taper back down to a fine 'shooting' line some ten to fifteen yards
long. Manufacturers vary these lengths to provide lines best suited to either long distance casting or gentler
presentation of the fly.
Wind knots Tangles and knots in the leader caused by bad casting. A single overhand knot will at least halve the
strength of nylon. The best cure for this problem is usually to put less effort into the casting and concentrate on
the presentation. A qualified casting instructor will be able to diagnose the true cause of any such problems you
X rating of leaders An old and rather obscure method of rating leader tippets by their diameter. It has now been
superseded, and most manufacturers publish the actual diameter plus a minimum breaking strain.
Zulu A wet fly pattern that allows me to put an entry under 'Z'.
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