Capt. Legare shows a teenager how to cast a rod for red drumGlossary of Inshore Fishing Terms

To help you get familiar with the language of inshore fishing, we have complied this glossary of terms. Capt. Legare Leland enjoys teaching his customers all about inshore and saltwater fishing. During his charters, Capt. Legare will take the opportunity to teach you what you need to know, as well as anything you want to know. Come along and learn all there is to know about inshore charter fishing in Charleston.

  • Action

    A measure of fishing rod strength and performance. The elapsed time from when the rod is flexed to when it returns to straight.

  • Active fish

    Fish that feed heavily and strike aggressively.

  • Angler

    Another word for fisherman; anyone who captures fish from a body of water.

  • Artificial

    Bait made of some type of metal, plastic or rubber. Comes in many colors, may be scented or unscented.  

  • Bag limit

    Daily restriction on the number of fish an angler may keep.

  • Bait well

    Like a live well, it is a container on the fishing boat, filled with water (often recirculating) to keep live bait alive.  

  • Barb

    Projects back from the point of the hook to snag the bait on the hook, and also the fish once it is caught.

  • Barbless

    Hook made without a barb, or one with the barb cut or filed off, or flattened.

  • Bass

    Common term for a variety of freshwater and saltwater game fish. The largemouth and small mouth bass are actually types of sunfish. Striped, white and yellow bass are types of perch, and are often called “true” bass.

  • Bend

    The turn at the bottom of the hook.

  • Black bass

    Common name for largemouth and small mouth bass, which are types of sunfish.

  • Blind cast

    Casting a line with no particular target in sight. The opposite of sight casting.

  • Braided Line

    Multiple-strand fishing line. Stronger than monofilament, but has less stretch. Often used when fishing sharp, craggy reefs.

  • Break-off

    Losing a fish the line breaks.

  • Cast Net

    Large, weighted net that is cast into the water to catch schools of baitfish.

  • Casting

    Projecting your line into the water in order to catch fish.

  • Catch-and-release

    Catching a fish and releasing it right away. Anglers often practice catch-and-release as a conservation method – but they take a photo first!

  • Clarity

    The depth you are able to see objects under the water.

  • Culling

    Optimizing your bag limit by releasing lighter-weight fish from a live-well and keeping heavier ones.

  • Cut Bait

    Bait animals that are not alive, cut up and placed on the hook.  

  • Depthfinder / recorder / sounder

    Sonar that reads the bottom structure, determines depth, or locates fish.

  • Dorsal fin

    The median fin on the back of a fish. A fish may have two or more dorsal fins.

  • Drag

    When your fishing reel allows line out in a regulated way to relieve pressure and help prevent line breakage.

  • Drop-off

    Sudden increase in water depth, caused by submerged topographic features.

  • Eye

    Hole at the top of the hook where you tie your line.  

  • Eyelets

    The rings on a fishing rod through which line is passed. Also called line guides.

  • False-casting

    Fly-casting your line in the air, but not hitting water. This increases line length and target accuracy.

  • Fan casting

    Casting your line repeatedly in a close arc to locate actively feeding fish.

  • Fillet

    Food preparation, separating the meat of the fish from the bones with a knife.

  • Flat Boat

    Refers to the structure of the boat, as well as the area where the boat is utilized – the flats. A flat boat is lightweight and features a shallow draft of 12 inches or less. They usually have outboard motors to navigate the open water but, within the shallow waters of the flats, will usually be propelled manually with a push pole to quietly maneuver into the target area. Also known as a flats skiff.

  • Flats

    Shallow area of water, 3 feet deep or less. Often where game fish feed or spawn. In the Charleston area, many flats are grass-covered.

  • Foul-hook

    Hooking a fish anywhere other than in its mouth.

  • Fry

    Stage of fish life, between the time they hatch and the time they become fingerlings.

  • Game fish

    Fish caught for sport, one that puts up a fight when hooked.

  • Gear

    Generic term for the tools of fishing – rod and reel, hook and line, etc.

  • Grass Flats

    A grassy area covered with 3 feet of water or less. Prominent in Charleston.

  • Johnboat

    Small boat with a flat bottom, square front and shallow draft, useful for flats fishing.

  • Keeper

    Generally, any fish considered worthy of taking home for eating or mounting.

  • Leader

    Section of fishing line, often several feet in length, between the hook and the rest of the line. Used to strengthen the part of the line where the fish is fighting. More expensive type of line often made of fluorocarbon.

  • Limit-out

    Reaching the daily catch limit for a specific species of fish.

  • Line guides

    see Eyelets.

  • Live Bait

    Living fish, shrimp, and crabs placed on the hook so that they appear to be swimming, to attract fish.

  • Livewell

    A compartment on a fishing boat that holds water (often recirculated) to keep fish alive.

  • Long-lining

    Towing multiple lures using a very long line, sometimes a mile in length, behind a commercial fishing boat. See trolling.

  • Mono

    Abbreviation for monofilament fishing line.

  • Monofilament

    Single-strand, non-twisted, synthetic filament fishing line. Features a good amount of stretch, but not as strong as braided line.

  • Moon Phases

    Of the four quarters of the moon each month, the first and second quarter moons are considered good fishing. Three days before or after the full or new moon, less good.

  • Nares

    Fish nostrils.

  • Natural Bait

    Bait consisting of live or dead creatures. Basically the opposite of Artificial bait.

  • Open-faced reel

    A fishing reel with a fixed spool and no nose cone.

  • Otolith

    Ear bone of a fish, useful for determining the fish’s age, like counting the rings of a tree.

  • Overcast

    Casting your lure, fly or bait past the target you are aiming for.

  • Pectoral fin

    The fins beside the gills on each side of the fish’s body.

  • Pelvic fins

    Juxtaposed set of fins located near the fish anus.

  • PFD

    Personal Flotation Device, such as a life jacket.

  • Point

    The sharp end of the hook.

  • Point

    A mini-peninsula that juts into the water. Some are underwater, but detectable by range-finder. Fish, especially predatory fish, often gather at points.

  • Poling Platform

    Platform on the back of a flats boat or skiff, where the captain sights fish and steers the boat quietly.

  • Possession limit

    The maximum number of a fish species one person can take.

  • Post front

    After a cold front, skies are clear and bright, winds pick up and temperature falls. Typically slow fishing.

  • Post-spawn

    Right after the spawn, fish are often lethargic and feed less. When they recover, they become hungrier and more aggressive.

  • Prespawn

    Prime fishing time before the spawn, when fish are often feeding more aggressively.

  • Push Pole

    Long fiberglass pole used on flat boats or skiffs to creep quietly in the flats to find fish.

  • Shank

    The part of the hook between the eye and the bend.

  • Shoal

    Submerged bar, bank or ridge.

  • Short strike

    A fish hits at your lure but misses it.

  • Sight-casting, sight-fish

    Casting and fishing after fish are spotted. The opposite of blind-casting.

  • Sinkers

    Also called Weights, these are pieces of lead or other metal attached to the line to enable it to sink.

  • Size limit

    The set minimum length for the fish you keep.

  • Skipping

    Casting small lures forcefully and at a low angle, causing it to skip across the surface.

  • Slot Limit

    Instead of a single stated size minimum for keeping a fish, slot limits state that a species of fish may be taken below a minimum length, and above a maximum length, but not in the slot in between.

  • Spincaster

    A closed-faced, button activated spinning reel. A nose cone sends the line out straight.

  • Spooking

    Alarming fish by making too much noise, rocking the boat or casting shadows.

  • Starboard

    Right side of the boat.

  • Still-fishing

    Fishing from one spot, like a pier, or the shore.

  • Structure

    Rocks, ledges and dropoffs on the floor where fish might gather and feed.

  • Swim bladder

    Many bony fish have this gas-filled sac in the upper part of the body cavity, aids in buoyancy.

  • Swivel

    Joins two lines or a line to a lure, to prevent the line from twisting.

  • Tackle

    Fishing equipment such as rods, reels, lines, hooks, weights, etc.

  • Terminal tackle

    General term for tackle placed at the end (terminus) of the fishing line, like hooks, sinkers, floats, etc.

  • Test

    A measurement of fishing line strength. A higher test number equals more strength.

  • Tiptop

    The last ring, or line guide, at the tip of a fishing rod.

  • Treble hook

    A fishing hook with three points, either on a single or bundled shaft.

  • Tributary

    Creek or stream that feeds a larger stream, river, lake, sound or bay.

  • Triggering

    or, Reaction bite. Quickly retrieving your lure, then suddenly slowing, to cause a strike reaction from sport fish.

  • Trolling

    Towing one or several lures behind a fishing boat, typically traveling at speeds of 2-10 knots. When a fish is caught, the boat stops and the fish is reeled in.

  • Trolling motor

    Small, secondary electric fishing boat motor, used to maneuver quietly in fishing areas.

  • Ultralight

    Lighter-than-standard fishing rods or tackle.

  • Ventral fins

    Paired fins at the front of a fish’s abdomen.

  • Wading

    Fishing while walking in shallow water instead of from a boat or land

  • Weights

    Also called Sinkers, these are pieces of lead or other metal attached to the line to enable it to sink.

  • Wet fly

    A fly fished underwater, as opposed to the surface.

  • Wire

    Strong metal fishing line with no stretch. Used mostly in deep sea fishing for big game fish like shark or barracuda.