Glossary of Sportfishing Terms
Cabo San Lucas – (popularly known as just ‘Los Cabos’ – or San José del Cabo – in Mexico and is often referred to as ‘Cabo’ or ‘Lands End’ in the United States) is a city at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula at 22°53’N 109°54’W / 22.88°N 109.90°W / 22.88; -109.90 Coordinates: 22°53’N 109°54’W / 22.88°N 109.90°W / 22.88; -109.90, in the municipality if Los Cabos in the state of Baja California Sur, Mexico.
Cabo San Lucas defines sportfishing – Nickname “The Marlin Capital of the World” – is well known for its outstanding populations of striped, black and blue marlin. Cabo is world class sport fishing at its very best. The bite is hot year round for Striped Marlin, Dorado, Tuna, Wahoo, Rooster fish and much more. Big game tournaments have become synonymous with Cabo San Lucas. Places like the world-famous Gordo Bank, Golden Gate Bank, and Jaime Bank are just a quick boat ride away and these waters teem year-round with world-record fish. The best striped marlin, blue marlin, black marlin, dorado, wahoo and tuna fishing in the world is right here in Cabo.
Backing Down – Running the boat backwards to pursue a fish (in reverse)
Balao – Pronounced “bally-hoo,” this is the popular offshore bait used for trolling, most often used for billfish. The bait of choice for sailfish for many years. A pricey bait when used for other saltwater species.
Belly Strip – A strip of belly meat from a baitfish. Cut and trimmed in a streamlined fashion, it can be trolled behind the boat, where it flutters in a fashion enticing to game fish.
Billfish – Any several species of pelagic fish, including sailfish, spearfish, blue, black or white marlin, and swordfish.
Bottom Fish – Fish that spend most of their lives on bottom, such as cod, snapper, and grouper.
Butt Seat – A seat that is shaped in a sort of half moon design, which anglers often use to lean against while fishing. Also known as “Bike” seats.
Casting Live Bait – Captain sees a fish afloat (Striped Marlin, Sailfish, Swordfish) and gets as close as possible in order to throw live bait to the fish
Catch-and-release – Term that refers to releasing the fish you catch so that they can live to fight another day, and thus insuring a productive fishery.
Circle hook – Hook with a decreasing radius bend design, originally used by commercial fishermen because it requires no hookset. If a fish swallows the bait and swims, increasing tension will pull the hook back out through the throat with out sticking until it lodges in the corner of the jaw. Many sport fishermen now use this hook because bait-caught fish may be safely released with almost zero mortality.
Coastal pelagic – An offshore fish that migrates along the coastline, but isn’t a true, ocean going pelagic. Examples are kingfish, Spanish mackerel, cobia.
Cut Bait – Fish cut into chunks to fit the hook.
Downrigger – Used to slow troll most commonly used for kingfish and grouper. Standard equipment on the kingfish tournament boats.
Downrigger Ball – Cannonball-shaped device with a fin, used to keep a trolled bait far beneath the boat.
Egg Sinker – A sliding sinker shapped like an egg. Generally, the main line is threaded though the hole in the ainker, then a barrel swivel attached below it. A leader is tied below the swivel. When fished with a slack line, the fish can move off with the bait without feeling the sinker dragging along.
Electronics – Commonly refers to the depth finders, and fish locaters used by anglers.
Express – Large Lower Helm Area with marlin or tuna tower. Adding second & third helm station. Cabin Below
Fathom – Six feet of depth. Many nautical charts are marked in fathoms, not feet.
Fighting Chair – Mounted in the center of the cockpit to assist in fighting big fish.
Fire Tiger – Color scheme that involves a lure with green back, chartreuse aides, orange belly and black vertical lines on the sides.
Floater – Any debris that has washed offshore. Normally holds Dorado and Wahoo.
Fluorocarbon – A material composed of a bond between fluorine and carbon atoms. Fishing line manufactured of this material can take a lot of damage without losing strength, as to monofilament, which is compromised by even the smallest nick. In addition, it has a faster sink rate for it’s diameter than mono. The raw material has a lower light reaction index than water. This has lead manufacturers to claim that fluorocarbon is less visible than mono filament.
Flybridge – Cabin at cockpit level with 1 helm station above. Tuna Tower adds second helm station.
Flying bridge – A permanent raised steering platform on an offshore sportfishing boat. From this elevated platform, the captain has a better view of everything, including the trolling baits and any approaching fish.
Flying gaff – A long handled gaff with a detachable head tied to a rope.
Gaff – A steel hook on a handle used for landing fish
GPS – Global Positioning Satellite, device used to accurately determine your location with in feet. Handy for finding your way on unfamiliar lakes.
Jigging – A vertical presentation where a lure is worked up and down (rather than laterally) through the water column.
Kite Rig – Fishing a balt with a kite. Fishing kites are different from land kites, usually flat and square. The live bait skips around on the surface, without the telltale line being visible. Used mostly on sailfish, but effective on other species.
Leader – 1.) In conventional fishing, the very terminal end of your line, where the fish does business. It can be wire where needed for toothy critters, or a mere gossamer thread when fooling wary trout. 2.) In fly fishing, the clear tapered monofilament leader distances your highly visible fly line from the fish, and also dissipates the energy at the end of cast.
Lever drag – A mechanism that actuates drag adjustment through a lever on top of the reel, rather than by a rotating a drag star on the handle main shaft (star drag). Lever drags were first introduced on big game reels and have recently been added to lighter application reels.
Lit up – Pelagic fish such as the marlins, sailfish and wahoo have a tendency to “light up” with neon, powder blue colors when excited or hooked.
Live Well – A circulating well to keep bait fish alive all day.
Locators – Common nickname for depth finders since they often display images of fish as they pass over them.
Longliner – As seen in the movie, The Perfect Storm, longliners are commercial fishing boats with a huge spool of heavy monofilament line on their back deck, up to 40 miles long. Used mostly for targeting Tuna and Swordfish.
Mono leader – Leader made of monofilament, mono leaders are of course heavier grade than the line on your reel. Standard mono leader for huge marlin, for instance, is 300-pound test, while line on the reel seldom exceeds 80-pound test.
Monofilament – Common reference to a synthetic polymer fishing line extruded as a single filament.
Old Salt – Some crusty old fisherman who has survived many storms offshore, and seen by many fish.
Outriggers – Used to run lures outside the boat wake and spread the pattern. Long metal or fiberglass poles, used for trolling baits far to the sides of a boat.
Pelagic – True, ocean-going fish that roam the deep water.
Plastics – In general, lures manufactured from flexible vinyl and poly carbonate derivatives.
Polarized glasses – A very necessary part of a fly fisherman’s kit. By virtue of a “grille” of tiny bars, sandwiched between two layers of glass, polarized glasses eliminate glare reflected from water and allow a fisherman to see into the water.
Rocket Launcher – A rack of tubes designed to hold five or six fishing rods in a boat, easily accessible and protective from damage in rough seas – though not from corrosive salt spray.
Rod Belt – A leather or (in more modern times) a plastic belt that fits around an angler’s waist while fighting a fish. The belt socket keeps the rod but snug, and saves weary arm muscles and that lower back during a long fight.
Run & Gun – Method of fishing where the angler is only attempting to catch those aggressive fish that will quickly strike the lures cast. Then the angler “runs” or motors to the next spot.
Sabiki rig – Multi-fly rig used to catch live bait.
Shock Leader – A short but heavy piece of monofilament, attached to the hook, designed to take the shock of hard strike. And the resulting abrasion from sharp teeth or bottom scraping.
Sight fishing – Method of angling, where fishermen can actually see the fish they are attempting to catch. Requires clear water.
Skirt – Silicone, rubber or plastic material fashioned around a spinnerbalt or similar lure to create the body.
Skunked – To catch zero fish or keepers.
Speed trolling – Trolling plastic billfish baits up to 20 miles an hour.
Standup Tackle – Short rod and stout reel, hooked up to a harness that the angler wears. The harness offers good back support and helps support the heavy tackle.
Stinger hook – A trailing hook designed to catch short-striking fish. For instance, a slow-trolled live bait would have a stinger hook back near its tail. The nose hook tows the bait while the stinger hook guards against short-strikes.
Structure – Reference to bottom of contours and submerged natural and man made features, such as old road beds and drop offs. These features serve as travel routes and habitat for fish.
Swells – Offshore waves that may be generated thousands of miles away. Usually easier to navigate than wave chop, which is steeper and much more frequent. Swells generally become a problem when they near land, as their height increases.
Swim Bait – Soft plastic lure that resembles a baitfish. Normally a life-size copy of bluegill, shad or trout. Example: Casting lure
Swivel – A multi-piece metal connector that is able to rotate in order to prevent line twist.
Tailer – Marlin, Sailfish or Swordfish on the surface with its tail fin out of the water
Transom – The surface that forms the stern (back) of a boat.
Trolling Artificials – Several fishing lines in the water with artificial lures of various sizes & colors.
Trolling plug – Saltwater trolling plugs have stout hooks and a big lip for deep diving. Designed for kingfish, wahoo, tuna, and, on Florida’s Coastal Bend area on the Gulf, for gag grouper.
Tuna tower – Elevated driving platform that allows a better view of surrounding water in rolling seas. Also gives the captain a better view of the trolling spread to detect gamefish approaching a lure.
Tuna Tubes – Salt Water is forced upward through to tube to keep small tuna alive. Live Tuna are the preferred bait for big fish.
Weedline – In saltwater, normally made up of floating yellow sargassum weed, created when two offshore currents flow together. A solid weedline is a unique environment inhabited with all sorts of small juvenile fish and the predators that feed on them.
Wire Leader – Any of several kinds of leader with steel content.