A Beginners Guide To Talking Bass Fishing

Every sport has it's own set of words and expressions with special meanings that are very clear to those involved but sound like Chinese to outsiders. Bass fishing is no exception to this rule. If you walk around the ramp at a tournament weigh-in and eavesdrop on some of the conversation, you might think that everyone is using a secret code. Don't despair, it's really pretty easy to decipher once you learn the language. You might find some variations on these definitions if you travel around the country, but for the most part this will get you by.

There are some special terms that define a method of fishing or a particular way of working a bait. Sometimes these are only variations on a theme. But realize that a variation on a theme can mean the difference between a check after the weigh-in versus a "thank you" finish!

Flippin' - a method of presenting a bait. You use a long rod (7 ? to 8 foot) with heavy line (20 to 30 lb. test) and use a underhand flipping motion while holding a length of line in your other hand and release the line to feed it out. This method is used at very close distance to the target and provides a quiet, accurate presentation of your bait to the fish.

Pitchin'- this is similar to flipping but doesn't use a fixed length of line. In this presentation you use a reel that free spools easily and let line out after flipping the lure out with an underhand motion. It is used when you cannot fish close enough to flip. It also lacks some of the quiet and accuracy of flipping.

Shaking - a very popular form of worm fishing that started on the west coast. The worm is rigged on a hook and a weight is used similar to a Texas rig. The weight however is made of brass. A glass bead is placed between the weight and the head of the worm. The rod tip is shaken to create a clicking between the weight and the bead while worm moves very little. This can be used to work a bait down a steep bank or to bring fish out of cover to the bait. This method would be included in the group of techniques referred to as "finesse" fishing.

Split Shotting - another of the "finesse" techniques from the west coast. A small worm, usually 4.5" to 6" long and rather narrow, is rigged on a light wire worm hook. A split shot or other small lead sinker is placed from 6" to 18" above the bait. The bait is then dragged across the bottom using the trolling motor of the boat. An extremely sensitive rod is a must as the bite is sometimes hard to detect. Other times, when the fish are aggressive they will hit it hard.

Ripping - this method of presenting a bait consists of casting a minnow shaped hard bait such as a Rapala Husky Jerk or a Smithwick Rogue and retrieving it with a stop and go motion. Typically these baits are neutrally buoyant so that when you pause, it will not float up or drop. The hits usually come just as you start to move it again. Rippin' is especially effective in the spring time.

Spooning - a technique that uses a metal lure that is flat and somewhat oblong shaped with a split ring on one end and a treble hook on the other. The fisherman will find bait fish or suspended bass on his electronics and lower the spoon to them. The lure is then worked in an up and down motion. Hits usually come on the fall. This type of fishing is normally used in the winter months.

Carolina Rig - a method of fishing a worm, lizard or other plastic bait. This rig typically uses a long leader attached to a swivel. Above the swivel, on the main line, is a bead and on top of that a large egg sinker. The sinker is usually anywhere from 3/8 ounce up to 3/4 oz depending on the depth and speed you want to fish. A long rod of 6 ? to 7 foot is normally used to help with the hook set.

Texas Rig - the traditional method of fishing a plastic worm. The hook is tied directly to the main line and a bullet shaped sinker is placed on the line and rests against the worm head. The weight may be pegged, or fixed, into place with a toothpick to keep it near the worm.

Other forms of Fishspeak refer to the baits and terminal tackle itself. Once again some of these terms can be a variation or refer to something that has been modified. Some bass terms refer to accessories that are common to tournament fisherman and their boats, trailers or vehicles.

Blades - when someone says they were throwing a blade or that they caught their fish on blades they are referring to a spinnerbait. This is not to be confused with catching fish on a blade bait. Don't ask me why, I didn't make this up.

Brass & Glass - a brass weight and a glass bead used to make a clicking noise that is supposed to attract fish or trigger them to bite. This can be used for shaking or fish a Carolina Rig.

Belly Board, Flat Board, Golden Rule - these are all devices to let a fisherman accurately measure the length of a fish to determine if it is of legal size. Be warned that all boards do not measure a fish at the same length. That is to say that a fish that measures 12 and 7/8" on a flat board will probably measure just over 13" on a belly board. It's extremely important to use the correct board to avoid problems at weigh in.

Cull - to replace a small fish with one of greater weight. Tournament fishermen must be extremely careful to cull the correct fish since one ounce can affect their payback in a tournament. There are many devices used to facilitate culling, as it is called. A digital scale is a must. Another common item is a set of culling bouys or rings. These are attached to the fish when it is weighed and is color coded. That allows you to correctly identify each fish after it has been weighed. Finally some anglers use a balance beam when two fish measure the same on a scale.

Pop or Needle a Fish - when bass are caught deep they will have a problem adjusting to the rapid change in pressure and their air bladder will expand. A fisherman must use a needle to release this built up pressure from the fish if it's going to survive. The needle is pushed through the fishes side just below the lateral line and punctures the air bladder. Once you learn this procedure it can be done easily and without any permanent harm to the fish.

Swing a Fish - to use your rod and reel to lift a fish into the boat rather than a net. This practice is fine when using a worm or jig. When fishing a crankbait or ripbait it is usually better to net the bass.

Darter Head - a hook that has a lead weight molded into the end of the hook and has a line tie that comes out of the lead at ninety degrees to the hook shank.

Toad - a reference to a large fish. They are also called a hawg, pig, sow and several other affectionate names. Whether or not a fish qualifies as a toad depends on when and where you are. If you are at Castaic or night fishing at Amador you need a 8 or 9 pounder to qualify. If your fishing a summer tournament on a valley reservoir a 6 could do it.

He Gave Me The Fin - what you say when a fish comes up on your bait, takes a look and swims off without a nibble. The bigger the fin the more offensive this is.

Well I'm sure that I have missed a few definitions, and possibly a couple of your favorites. But with the Fishspeak dictionary above, all you need is a baseball cap, from the right sponsor, with the bill curved just so and you'll fit right in next time you're at the ramp. And when someone asks you "how'd you do it?" you can tell them!