What do all these bass fishing terms mean?
Response by Andrew Kidd - Dated 07/09/04

    I've compiled a mini terms and slang dictionary here. There are so many terms that confused me to no end when I first started bass fishing, that I often take for granted now. Here are a few. I'm sure I've left many valid techniques and terms out, but these are some that took some research to find out the real meaning. Please feel free to contact me with additions to the list...

Crankbait - A minnow or small fish imitator. They vary widely in size and shape. Many have a bill on the front to make the bait dive when retrieved, and to impart a side to side wobble on the bait. Several different kinds use slightly different names, such as diving, shallow running, lipless, etc. The baits attraction lies in it's similarity to a natural fish, as well as the vibration and potentially the sound generated by the bait (by some baits that contain rattles) during the retrieve.

Jerkbait - In hard plastic variety, this is typically a longer version of crankbait, often used with a jerking motion. The bait is usually know for it's visual attraction, and from the vibration it puts off in the water. Sometimes seen in a soft plastic variety as well. An example of this is the Sluggo, which is usually fished slowly with an erratic stop and drop action. Mostly a visual bait.

Topwater plug - Similar to a crankbait, only used in a floating application. Usually without a diving bill of any type. Can be of many different varieties, but many are worked with a twitching motion. Some make a spitting action when twitched, some wiggle from side to side, some require your twitching to impart a very subtle, repetitive action (sometimes referred to as "walking the dog").

Prop baits - Again, similar to a crankbait in shape, but utilizing a small prop on the front, back, or both to create a disturbance on the water as the bait is retrieved. This could also be considered a topwater plug.

Spinnerbait - This category can be broken into a couple different styles. The typical "safety pin" style, which consists of a lead "head" with a hook out one end, and a bent wire coming out of the other. The opposite end of the wire contains usually a single or double blade combination. Blade styles can be broken into three basic styles: willow leaf (which is named for it's shape), a Colorado blade (in a rounded teardrop shape), and an Indiana blade (a more slender teardrop shape). There are also several blade styles that are derivative of these main styles. Another style of spinnerbait is the inline spinner, which often has only one blade, and no bend between the wire and the weighted end of the bait. The spinnerbait's attractions are it's flash generated by the blade, as well as it's vibration. It is fished in many different ways, fast to slow, to stop and go.

Jig and Pig - This combination typically consists of a jig, essentially a hook with a lead head molded on, containing a "skirt", made of rubber or animal hair and a "pig" which refers to a pork rind type bait trailer fed onto the hook. The pork trailer is usually shaped like a, well, like a .... pork trailer. It consists of a body with pork fat with two trailing "legs" of pork skin. It has also been replaced with soft plastic trailers as well, which can be easier to use at times, since the pork must be kept wet when not being used. The addition of rattles to the jig can often help in muddier water, and adds to the lure visual attraction and vibration. This bait is used to simulate a crawfish.

Soft plastic or rubber worms - This category is far to broad to go into detail about, but usually consists of a soft plastic worm threaded onto a hook. There are also versions that are pre-rigged onto hooks. Many different varieties exist using different tail lengths, shapes and colors to increase or decrease the vibration that this bait displaces and it's visibility. This bait can be fished in several different ways. See the Presentation techniques section...

Soft plastic or rubber craws, lizards, french fries, caterpillars, etc - These are all typically variations of the soft plastic worm. Some are used in very specialized techniques, while most can be used for just about any style of soft plastic fishing you choose.

Stick baits - This category is relatively new, and is exemplified by the Senko style bait. This is a non-descript, cylindrical soft plastic material, in a variety of lengths and colors. It is lightly tapered, closer to one end then the other. This baits primary attraction is it's interesting slow fall. It is usually very full of salt, so it casts well, even unweighted. it is also know for the fish holding onto it very well before the hookset.

Presentation techniques:
Weedless - A generic fishing term meaning "does not have exposed hook to grab onto things".

Texas rig - This rig usually uses the soft plastic lure, with or without a weight above it on the line. The primary advantage of this technique is the point of the hook being hidden within the body of the bait, making it a very weedless presentation. The bait is threaded onto the hook at a slight angle. The bait is turned such that when the bait portion threaded onto the hook it will line up with the hook tip, leaving the soft plastic bait straight, while the hook is at an angle. A good picture of this hooking technique can be found online at and gives a much better representation then a written description.

Carolina rig - This rig differs from the Texas rig in that it involves more then just how a soft plastic bait is threaded onto a hook. This is more of a system. The bait itself can be threaded onto the hook using a Texas Rig style presentation. The difference in this technique involves using a heavier weight closest to the reel, followed usually by a glass bead (for more noise), then a swivel tied directly inline. After the swivel, a secondary "leader" is tied onto the other end of the swivel, typically of slightly lower test line then the main line. At the end of this is tied the hook or bait being used. This presentation involves dragging this along the bottom at various depths to attract the fish not only through the vibration of the primary bait, but also through the commotion that the weight contacting the bottom makes. Often used as more of a "search" bait then just the plain Texas rigged bait.

Split shotting or split shot rig - This technique is very similar to the Carolina Rig, minus the swivel and bead. The weight is held inline through the use of a pinched split shot, or through several different specialized weight systems. This technique also usually employs a Texas rigged bait at the hook.

Drop Shotting - Drop shotting is a technique used where the weight is hung from the very end of the fishing line. The baited hook is tied inline towards the reel, allowing the bait to hang suspended while the weight is on the bottom. The line between the weight and the bait is considered the leader. This technique seems well designed for finding fish suspended slightly above the bottom or over weeds.

Finesse fishing - Although a gross oversimplification, the term finesse usually refers to downsizing of lures and weights used.

Casting techniques:
Flipping - Flipping is a technique where a length of line is extended from the rod such that the line can be pulled just above the reel with the hand not holding the rod, making the bait reappear from the water, swung towards the body, then released as the pendulum action moves the bait away from the body and towards the target. In this style of fishing, the reel is never disengaged as it is during normal casting. It is primarily used in heavy cover and when the water has some color to it to hide your closeness from the fish. It usually requires a quiet presentation to not spook the fish, not only with the lure but with the boat as well.

Pitching - This technique uses an underhand technique, like the flipping, but the reel is disengaged, as in a normal cast. The bait, or the line right above the bait is held in your hand not holding the rod. The tip of the rod is lowered, the bait is released as the rod tip is raised again. This creates the momentum required to propel the bait towards a target. The timing of this is meant to have the bait's trajectory send it as horizontal to the water's surface as possible. The line at the reel is feathered as the bait approaches it's target, allowing for a soft presentation of the bait into the water. Many experienced fishermen use this technique as their primary cast in close quarters to the fish, although a bait can be cast from quite a distance using this technique after some practice.

Roll cast - This is a cast that is essentially an energy saving technique. As you prepare for the cast, allow a length of line about 12 - 24 inches to extend from the rod tip. Hold the rod to your side, and swing the bait in a circle at the rod tip, such that when the bait is on the lower end of the circle, it is travelling towards the target. This usually requires just a flick of the wrist. When the bait reaches it's lowest point, release the line and allow the momentum developed to send the cast towards it's target. This allows a lot of momentum to be developed from very little body movement. After the seventh hour of casting, you will appreciate the energy this technique saves. With a little practice, this technique can be surprisingly accurate.

Hope this helps a little. I know I could have used some help like this when I was just getting started...

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