Fly Fishing Glossary
Another Resource from FFI
Action: An elusive, but important characteristic of fly rods. Rods are said to have fast or slow action. Fast action rods are generally stiffer overall, but bend more at the tip, generating higher line speeds longer casts, especially into the wind. Slow action rods, appear to flex their entire length, giving the sense of a more compliant feel.
Albright knot: A common knot used for tying the backing to fly line.
Anadromous: A term to describe fish that travel from the sea upriver to spawn in fresh water like salmon. Fish that migrate from freshwater to the sea for spawning are catadromous.
Angler: One who seeks to catch fish with a hook (an "angle"), usually fixed to the end of a line.
Anti-Reverse: A feature of fly reels where the spool handle does not turn as line is pulled out from the reel.
Attractor: A style or variety of fly that is effective in eliciting strikes, but has few apparent characteristics of a natural food item. Often an attractor is flashy and bigger than life.
Arbor: The center part of a fly reel where line and backing (first) is wound.
Arbor knot: A knot used for tying backing to the arbor of the fly reel.
Back cast: The casting of line in a direction opposite to the direction the fly is intended to go. The backward counterpart of the forward cast which acts to create a bending action on the fly rod, setting up the conditions to generate the forward cast and present the fly.
Backing: The first segment of line on a reel, usually braided and used to build up the arbor and to offer additional distance for a strong fish to pull out line. An unusually strong fish will take you "into your backing".
Badger: A feather of a specially bred or chosen chicken that has colors which change from brown--black to black at the center of the quill to ginger or white on the outer edges.
Barbless: Barbless hooks are either manufactured without a barb or the barb is squeezed down. This feature makes it easier to remove a hook and minimizes the handling and potential damage of a fish you may want to release.
Barrel knot: See blood knot
Beadhead: Usually but not always a fly with a bead immediately behind the hook eye. Beads come in many materials, from brass to nickel brass to ceramic. Some beads help a fly sink, but others are floaters.
Belly: A tapered fly line has several components, with a fairly sharply tapered tip (at the fly end). The middle portion of the line is called the belly.
Belly boat: Originally using a tractor or truck inner tube, this is a one-person craft with a seat across the bottom on which the fly fisher sits. Feet are in the water and scuba fins are used to move the tube around. This type of fishing boat is very popular with warmwater fly fishers and with individuals who fish high mountain lakes. Also called a belly boat. See kick boat.
Bimini Twist: A knot used in saltwater fly fishing say for tarpon. It has a loop and a double line section making it especially strong.
Blank: Fiber glass and graphic fly rods (which also have fiber glass) are produced by wrapping sheets of graphite and fiber glass around a carefully tapered steel rod (called a mandrel). The hollow rod that results from this process is called a blank. It has no guides, ferrules or reel seat.
Blood knot: A best known for its strength in tying monofilaments of different diameter and material together. It is rather difficult to tie on the water and commercially-made blood knot tyers are available to make the job easier. A blood knot is often used to make a fly leader of several different diameter monofilament segments. Also known as a barrel knot.
Bobbin: A fly tying tool and term borrowed from seamstresses. A bobbin holds the tying thread.
Bodkin: A bodkin is a tool best described as a needle with a handle. It can be easily made from a piece of wooden dowling and a needle. It is used in fly tying used to deposit cement or lacquer to a fly.
Braided loop connector: A way of putting an in-line loop at the end of your fly line so as to use the loop on the leader to do a loop-to-loop connection between the leader and the fly line. The braided loop connector works like the so-called Chinese finger torture.
Breakoff: A term of defeat and excitement for a fly angler describing the event of a hooked fish breaking your tippet or leader. Usually a break off results from an unusually strong or big fish.
Bucktail: A streamer fly tied to imitate a fish. This fly usually features a long segment of hair, layed back from the eye to the bend of the hook. That hair often is from a deer's tail.
Butt section: The thicker end of a tapered leader that is tied to the fly line.
Caddis: A common aquatic insect found in many streams and rivers. They are a favorite food of trout and other fish. They have a number of distinct stages, including an underwater pupa and an above the water surface adult. Caddis have tent shaped wings and are known in both lakes and rivers to fly down upon he water to deposit their eggs.
Catch and release: A practice originating in the late 1930s to conserve fish populations by unhooking and returning a caught fish to the water in which it was caught. This is a highly successful practice in many warmwater, cold water and saltwater settings.
Caudal fin: Caudal is an anatomical term meaning "the back". The caudal fin is the tail fin or tail of a fish.
Char: A species of fish that is related to trout, that prefers cold water and is found many places in the world, including both east and west United States. Examples of char are brook trout, lake trout, arctic char and Dolly Varden.
Click drag: A mechanical system on many inexpensive fly reels used to slow down or resist the pulling efforts of a fish, so as to slow the fish down and tire it to the point where it can be landed. Basically a clicking sound is created by a triangular steel ratchet snaps over the teeth of the gear in the reel spool. The term singing reels refers to the high frequency clicking associated with a big fish pulling out line .
Clinch knot: A very popular knot for tying the tippet to the fly. It has the advantage of being very easy to tie and not using much line. See improved clinch.
Collar: A ring of feathers or hair placed immediately behind the head of the fly.
Curve cast: A casting technique that allows an angler to cast a fly around an obstacle. It is also used to minimize the influence of water current or wind on the fly or the fly line.
Dapping: A relatively ancient technique of presenting a fly on the surface of the water where the fly is connected to a short piece of line on a long rod. The fly is then touched on the surface of the water, immediately over an place where a fish might lie.
Dead drift: A term applied to the way that artificial flies must drift with the current to appear natural. This requires that the fly line, leader and tippet move with the fly and cause unnatural drag or a "v" that will result in most fish refusing the fly.
Disk drag: A mechanical system on more expensive fly reels whereby resistance is created to the line as a fish pulls it out. This resistance is intended to slow the fish and tire it. The resistance proper is created by applying pressure between two disks. Different from the click drag, the disk drag is smoother and less likely to create a sudden force that will break the line
Double haul: The term for the cast where the caster quickly pulls and releases the line on both the back cast and the forward cast. It is used to create greater line speed, enabling the caster to reach farther or cut through wind.
Double taper: DT or double taper refers to a fly line that is reduced in diameter on both ends. When one end of a DT fly line wears out, you can take it off the reel, turn it around and use the other end.
Drag: This term has two meanings in fly fishing: (1) An unnatural pulling of a floating or submerged fly such that it moves at a different rate than the current, often (at least on the surface) creating a "V" in the water-fish are commonly put off by drag. (2) A mechanical system that is part of a fly reel to resist and slow the speed at which line is pulled off the reel by a hooked fish
Dropper: A practice of fishing two flies at the same time, often one on the surface and a second underwater. This increases the chances of getting a successful fly in front of a fish.
Dry fly: A fly constructed of water resistant, lightweight and buoyant materials so as to imitate a insect that alights or floats on the surface of the water.
Dubbing: Fly tying material (usually strands or fibrous, including fur, yarn, wool, or synthetic fibers) that are wrapped onto a thread (commonly using wax) and wrapped around the shank of the hook to imitate the abdomen and/or thorax of an artificial fly.
Duncan's loop: A monofilament knot used most often to tie a tippet to the eye of a hook. Also called a uni-knot.
Dun: This word has two related uses in fly fishing: (1) a grayish or grayish blue (dull) color often seen in the wings of mayfly adults, (2) an aquatic insect in a life stage just as it has emerged from the water and can fly.
Emerger: A term for an aquatic insect at the stage when it swims to the surface or just below the surface to hatch or change from a nymph or pupa to an winged adult.
False cast: Casting the fly line forward and back in the air as a means to lengthen the amount of line that extends out from the rod, to dry the fly or to modify the path of the line. In a false cast, the fly is not allowed to drop onto the water.
Ferrule: A collar that is found at the point where sections of a fly rod are joined. The end of one section fits inside the end of another, in an overlapping fashion at the ferrule.
Flat: An expansive area of water with a relatively unchanging (flat ) depth, often over a sand or grass bottom. A common water topography for certain species of fish, like bonefish.
Floatant: A water-proofing (usually oily) salve or cream that is used to help flies, leaders and fly lines float.
Float tube: Originally using a tractor or truck inner tube, this is a one-person craft with a seat across the bottom on which the fly fisher sits. Feet are in the water and scuba fins are used to move the tube around. This type of fishing boat is very popular with warmwater fly fishers and with individuals who fish high mountain lakes. See kick boat.
Fly: An imitation of a fish food item, traditionally very light and made of hair, feathers and thread tied to a hook. Modern flies have many synthetic materials and often include lead to help them sink.
Fly fishing: A technique for fishing where the weight of the line is used to cast a very light weight fly that would not be heavy enough to be cast with a conventional spinning or casting rod.
Fly line: A line for fly fishing, originally of silk but currently made of a plastic coating over a braided line core. Fly lines are commonly 1.5 to 2 mm in diameter. The plastic coating gives the line weight and is commonly distributed unevenly to make the line easier to cast. A weight forward line, for example, has a greater plastic thickness near the forward (or fly) end of the line. Fly lines are not particularly long, generally not exceeding 105 feet. See taper, weight forward, double taper. Fly lines are rated in different weights, from 1 to 11, referring to the weight of the first 30 feet of the fly line.
Fly reel: A special fishing reel with fairly simple mechanics (compared to spinning or bait casting reels) designed to hold large diameter fly line. A fly reel is relatively light and attaches below the handle on a fly rod. More sophisticated (and expensive) fly reels have a drag system that creates resistance to the rapid pulling off of line by a fish. See drag, click drag, disk drag.
Fly rod: The special fishing rod constructed so as to cast a fly line. Fly rods are generally longer and thinner than spinning or casting rods. The special design involves careful attention to the way the fly rod bends because that bending action determines how well it can help cast a fly line. Fly rods were originally split cane bamboo. In the last 60 years, other materials, especially fiberglass and fiberglass with embedded graphite fibers are used. Fly rods are rated in their stiffness to match fly lines of different weights. (a number 6 fly rod should be used with a number six fly line). See fly lines
Freestone stream: A creek or river that gets most of its water flow from rainfall or snow/glacier melt. Freestone streams are most common in mountainous regions. The name freestone refers to the fact that typical freestone streams have a bottom of stones or gravel.
Fry: The first stage of a fish after hatching from an egg.
Forceps: A special medical pliers with a ratchet-locking action that are useful in removing a hook from a fish. These slim-nosed pliers are readily available in a number of lengths and sizes. Check a local medical supply.
Furnace: The coloration of feathers from a specially-bred chicken that dark brown-to-black along the center changing to light browns on edge.
Gaiters: Commonly a neoprene anklet or legging put over the top of wading shoes and to keep gravel from getting into the shoe and abrading the stocking foot of the wader. These are also called gravel guards.
Ghillie: A fishing guide in Britain, especially in Scotland, Wales and Ireland where the term originates from the Celts.
Graphite: A common material which if formed into fibers and placed in the fiber glass of a fly rod, makes the rod relatively stiff with little increase in weight as compared to fiber glass alone.
Grilse: An young, not-sexually mature Atlantic salmon
Grip: The cork handle of a fly rod, generally made of cork rings shaped in several different ways, including a cigar grip, full-wells grip, half-wells grip, superfine grip.
Grizzly: The coloration pattern from a specially bred chicken with barred black and white "V" pattern. Very popular for many flies because it may create the illusion of motion.
Guide: Metal rings, usually bent pieces of wire along the length of the fly rod to ease the release of line during casting and to distribute the stress of a fish along the entire length of the rod.
Hackle: Feathers from the neck or back of a specially bred chicken that are wrapped around the hook or other wise attached to a fly to imitate parts of an insect, such as legs or segments of the body. Hackle tips are used also for the wings on certain flies.
Hackle gauge: A ruler-like device to make sure the length of hackle used is appropriate for the size of hook. Particularly, hackle feather fibers (barbules) on a classic dry fly should be the same length as the hook gap.
Hackle pliers: Pliers used to hold feathers while they are being wound around a hook. Generally hackle pliers are spring loaded and often have a rubber disk to hold the slippery feathers.
Hairbug: A fly constructed through a special technique called hair spinning whereby bouyant (hollow) winter-coat, slippery deer, elk, antelope or caribou hair is made to flare and form a solid shape. This hair can be further trimmed to shapes like frog bodies. Hairbugs are commonly used for warmwater fish, but a mouse imitation hairbug is excellent for big brown trout on certain waters.
Hair stacker: A cylinder with one end blocked that is used to get tips of animal hair lined up for wings, tails and other parts of a fly. A spent rifle cartridge is suitable for small bunches of hair.
Hatch: Generally refers to a stage of aquatic insect change when there is a transformation from a swimming to a fly stage and from an underwater to a surface stage. Insects in the early part of this transition are also referred to as emergers.
Haul: A pull on the fly line with the non-casting hand to increase the line speed and get greater distance. This is done effectively during line pickupAn action associated with fly casting whereby the line speed is increased with an extra pull during line pickup, or back casting. Also see double haul.
Hook size: To a degree hooks are standardized based upon the gap (or gape) which is defined as the distance between the hook shank and the hook point.
Smaller numbers refer to larger hooks, consistent with the origin of hooks made from steel wire stock. Hooks for fly fishing range from a very small #24 (gap of 2 mm) to very large #2 (hook gap of 10 mm).
Improved clinch knot: An popular knot to tie a monofilament tippet to the eye of a hook. Also called the Trilene knot, after substantial publicity by the folks at Berkely. If the tippet is run through the loop twice it is even stronger.
Keeper: A loop of thin wire built into the shaft of the fly rod (near the grip) the fly can be attached while still connected to the tippet and line. This allows the fly fisher freedom to walk and climb without concern about hooking trees, grass or himself.
Kype: A male spawning trout or salmon develops a hook like protrusion on the mandible. The kype is particularly striking in salmon.
Leader: A single piece of tapered monofilament or multiple segments of monofilament stepped down from large where it is attached to the fly line to small where it is attached to the tippet. The butt end is usually fairly large and stiff (say 0.023 inches diameter) with the tippet end around 3X or 4X (.008-.007 inches). The section near the fly may include a tippet.
Lie: Areas in a river or lake where fish hang out, commonly well-located because they are out of the main current, present cover from predators or provide a good source of insects and other food.
Line dressing: An old term carried over from the days of silk fly lines referring to the oily substances applied to clean and increase buoyancy. Modern fly lines generally only need to be cleaned with warmwater and soap.
Line weight: The weight of the first 30 feet of a fly line, used as a way to standardize fly lines in matching them to fly rods of differing stiffness. Line weighting is not a linear numbering system; the first 30 feet of a #6 weight line 160 grains while the first 30 feet of a #3 weight line is 100 grains.
Loading: A term used to describe the effect of the weight of the line and the momentum of the cast upon the rod. A loaded rod is bent or loaded more with a greater casting force and a heavier line.
Loop to loop: A way to connect a fly line and a leader by making a loop at the end of the leader (perfection loop knot) and a loop attached to the end of the fly line. Loop to loop connections are sometimes made from a leader to a tippet.
Marabou: Fluffy and soft down or underfeathers from most birds, but particularly for fly tying, marabou comes from chickens, turkeys or other domestic fowl.
Matching the hatch: An attempt by a fly angler to select an artificial fly that imitates the color, size, shape and behavior of natural insects that fish are feeding on at a particular time. Often when a hatch is happening, fish become very selective and refuse insects that are not the most abundant.
Mayfly: An aquatic insect found throughout the world, in both still water and rivers. It is most easily identified by its sail-like upright wings and long graceful tails. Many classic trout flies imitate mayflies. Mayflies vary in size from the 3 mm tricos to the 30 mm hexagenia.
Mend: Throwing an upstream curve into your fly line as it floats down the stream to avoid having water currents pull on it and cause unnatural movement of your fly (unnatural drift or line drag). Fish and especially trout are exquisitely sensitive to (and turned off by) movement of a insect that moves at a different rate or in a different direction than the current.
Midge: A very small (non-biting), two-winged insect, related to deer flies, mosquitos and craneflies.
Monofilament: A single filament or strand of nylon, primarily used for tippet material or if tapered for leaders.
Nail knot: A knot tied with a nail as a prop and often used to attach the fly line to the backing. Also used less commonly to tie the leader to the fly line. Also called a tube knot.
Nymph: An underwater stage of aquatic insect. It is an important source for all varieties of warmwater and coldwater fish.
Palmered: A term used to describe feathers wound perpendicular to the shank of the hook and apparently based upon appearance of pilgrims bearing palms.
Parachute style fly: A dry fly with the dry fly hackle wrapped horizontally under the hook or at the base of the wings, providing a type of outrigger floation.
Parr: A young trout, salmon or char, usually in the so-called fingerling stage.
Perfection loop: This is a knot often used to create a loop in a piece of monofilament, frequently at the butt end of a leader for the loop to loop connection.
Polarized sun glasses: Sunglasses with iodized lenses that block incident light (glare) and thus allow anglers to better see beneath the surface glare of water.
Kick boat: A personalized, one-person fishing boat, usually with a seat between two pontoons at a level that allows the anglers feet to be in the water. It is propelled by swim fins, oars, or a even a small electric motor. Also called a kick boat.
Pool: A reach or segment of a river or stream with greater depth and slower current, making it safer from predators bird and animal and where swimming against the current is reduced.
Popper: A topwater lure, made of painted balsa wood or deer hair, with a flat face that causes it to make a popping sound when retrieved. It is commonly used for warmwater panfish, bass and some saltwater species.
Presentation: A term referring to the placing of a fly to the feeding region of a fish. While appears to be a pretentious term, it reflects the precision and elegance of casting a fly in a manner that it perfectly imitates a natural insect.
Pupa: An intermediate stage of certain insects, generally the stage between the larva and adult form of caddis flies or midges. Also refers to the fly imitation of these insects.
Reach cast: A cast used for adding extra slack in the line, or when fishing downstream, in order to provide a more natural float.
Reel seat: The section of a fly rod below the grip where the fly reel is attached. Reel seats often are constructed of attractive wood, including many exotic woods.
Redd: The hollowed out nest in a streambed where a fish deposits its eggs, a behavior typical to most salmonids.
Reel seat: The part of the fly rod - made of aluminum, wood, or graphite and located just behind the grip - where the fly reel is attached.
Retrieve: The method of stripping in the fly line that gives the fly action. Also, a term used in describing fly reels, as to whether they are left hand or right hand retrieve.
Rise: The action of a fish as it comes to the surface of the water to feed. Different kinds of rises (splashy, dimpled, etc.) suggest different kinds of feeding and may suggest different kinds of insects.
Roll cast: This is a casting technique that is used when a back cast is not possible. The line is made to loop in front of the angler and if properly executed it "rolls" out to present the fly.
Run: This term has two meanings in fly fishing: (1) A section of stream where relatively shallow water goes over a rough or gravel bottom and then into a pool. (2) The pulling out of line a hooked fish makes in trying to escape.
Running line: A thin line made of monofilament, Dacron braid or thin fly line that connects on one end to a shooting head and on the other end to the backing and indirectly the reel.
Scud: A small freshwater scrimp-like crustacean that is present in most trout waters and serves as a food source for trout.
Sea-run: A term describing brown, cutthroat and rainbow trout that hatch in fresh water, migrate to the sea to mature, and return to fresh water to spawn. Rainbow trout (in the Pacific Northwest and Great Lakes) are the best known sea-run trout; these are called steelhead.
Setting the hook: To make sure the hook penetrates the fish's mouth, an angler must apply an upward motion of the fly rod or some sort of quick tension on the fly line. When fishing with artificial lures and flies, fish often do not hook themselves because very soon after they "mouth" the fly, they are aware that it does not feel, taste or smell like it should. They will spit it out! This puts a premium on setting the hook a the right time!
Shooting head: Part of a special fly line used for long distance casting. The shooting head is a heavy section of line attached to a thin running line (made of monofilament, Dacron or fine fly line). The Shooting head has almost all of the weight of a normal line, but obviously is it almost totally concentrated in that first 30 feet. Shooting heads are used for making long casts in fishing saltwater, warmwater and steelhead.
Shooting line: The process of extending the length of your fly cast be releasing an extra length of fly line (usually held in your non-casting hand) during the forward/presentation part of the cast. This technique allows a fly angler to false cast a shorter segment of line and then only at the time of the final forward cast to bring a longer segment of line into play.
Single action: The typical fly reel wherein a single turn of the handle causes one turn of the reel spool. This is distinguished from the multiplier reel where a single turn of the handle causes multiple turns of the spool and makes it easier to retrieve line. Almost all high quality fly reels are single action.
Sink Tip: A fly line that has both a floating segment (say the first 95 feet) and a sinking section (the last 10 feet). This style of line is used for underwater presentation of flies in fast water or in some still water fishing situations.
Spawn: The behavior of fish where females deposit eggs (also called spawn) on various surfaces (varying with species) and the male produces necessary milt to ultimately turn the eggs into fry.
Spey: A particular casting technique using special two-handed rods and a modified roll cast. It is named after a river in Scotland where it was developed.
Split cane rods: Fly rods constructed of six pieces of split cane bamboo, which are triangularly shaped, tapered and glued together. Split cane rods appear to have originated in the U.S. in the middle of the 19th century. While used by some modern anglers, graphite/fiber glass rods offer less expensive and easier-to-care for options.
Spinner: The last stage of a mayfly, based upon the fact that the wings are spread horizontally as it falls to water surface after mating. The spinner is of significance because the spinner is an easy target for feeding fish.
Spinner fall: When mayfly of a particular sub-species go into the spinner stage they do so over a relatively short period of time, sometimes creating a feeding frenzy during what is called a spinner fall.
Spring creek: A creek or stream that gets its water from a ground flow or spring sources, rather than glacier/snow melt or surface run off. Spring creeks are generally at a temperature of the average rainfall temperature over the course of the year (the source of most ground water) and hence usually do not warm significantly in the summer nor freeze in the winter.
S-cast: An "S" pattern of the fly line on the water created by side-to-side movement of the fly rod during the forward cast. This cast is used to put slack in the fly line and hence to reduce the influence of the current on the fly line and thus to minimize drag.
Stonefly: An aquatic insect found throughout North America that generally requires higher water quality than most fish, including trout. It varies in size, but in the larger sub-species can reach 2 inches. It life stages vary from mayflies and caddis flies inasmuch as it crawls out of the water onto a rock, splits its outer covering and becomes a flying insect with wings that lay on its back.
Streamer: A fly classically made of long soft feathers or animal hair (like bucktail) to imitate a bait fish, leech or other non-insect . Modern streamers are made of many synthetic materials, including metallic film and even epoxy.
Strike: The action of a fish in trying to eat a fly. This term also refers to the movement of the rod a fly angler makes to set the hook.
Stripping guide: The guide nearest the reel on a fly rod, usually more substantial and larger in diameter than the snake guides nearer the tip. It is called a stripping guide because in bringing in the fly, the line is pulled over this guide with a fair amount a force. Some rods have two stripping guides, with the larger being nearer the reel.
Surgeon's knot: A common and strong knot for tying tippet material to the leader or one segment of tippet material to another. A surgeon's knot is stronger than a blood knot, especially for connection materials of unlike size and material. The blood knot has the advantage of being smoother and less likely to catch algae or cause tangles.
Steelhead: A variety of rainbow trout that spawns and lives part of its life in freshwater streams and other parts in oceans. While native to the Pacific Ocean, steelhead have been successfully introduced into many large lakes and now are found in some tributaries of all of North America's Great Lakes.
Stripping: Bringing in a fly line with in a series of short or varied pulls so as to simulate a living insect or bait fish. Often also involves movements of the rod tip.
Tail out: The lower end of a pool where it becomes shallow again.
Tailing: This term refers to the behavior of fish in shallow water where it is possible to see the caudal fins as they feed. Tailing fish are an exciting discovery and generally signal the possibility of getting strikes by the proper presentation of the right fly.
Tailwater: The downstream section of a river or stream found below a large man-made dam. The most famous and productive tailwaters are from bottom-discharge dams, making the water relatively cold and constant in temperature.
Terrestrial insect: As the name implies, these are land-dwelling (or tree/plant-dwelling) insects that breath air, including grasshoppers, crickets, ants, beetles and leaf worms.
Tinsel: A thin silver, gold or brass-colored ribbon used in adding shine ton flies, often as ribbing or for fly bodies.
Tippet: The terminal segment of monofilament tied on the end of a leader and connected to the fly.
Tip section: The top section of a fly rod, smallest in diameter and furthest from the rod grip.
Tip-top: A guide for the fly line with a small cylinder attached that fits over the end of the fly rod.
Triangle taper: A special taper profile to a fly line designed by Lee Wulff, with 40 feet of continuous taper, with a thin running line. Particularly useful for roll casts.
Variant: A dry fly variety wound hackles that are much larger than normally recommended. It is tied generally the as conventional patterns.
Vise: A tool used by fly tiers to hold the hook secure as thread, feathers and fur are attached and the fly is being constructed. Usually the most expensive and the single most important purchase for a fly tyer.
Wader belt: An adjustable belt cinched near the top of chest waders to keep out water, particularly recommended as a precaution to the waders filling up with water in the event of a fall.
Waders: Footed trousers that are constructed of latex, neoprene, Gortex or other waterproof material so as to keep anglers dry. Currently waders come in stocking foot or booted form and can be found in three lengths: hip waders, waist-high waders and chest waders.
Wading shoes or boots: Hiking-like boots worn with stocking foot waders, generally having felt soles and a more comfortable fit than the boot portions of boot foot waders.
Wading staff: A walking stick especially adapted to provide stability to a wading fly angler when moving through fast or deep water. Some wading staffs are foldable and can be kept in a fishing vest pocket until needed.
Weedguard: A piece of stiff monofilament or light wire attached from the top of the hook and extending in front of the hook point and bend to the hook eye. If properly attached, a weedguard reduces the likelihood of a fly picking up weeds, yet it does not deter the hooking of a fish. Weedguards are especially popular for underwater warm water flies.
Weight forward: A type of fly line with most of its weight in the first thirty feet of line. The large section of this type of line is called the line belly, with a long tapering of the line toward the front and a short tapering of it back to a thinner running line.
Wet fly: A type of fly that is presented to the fish below the surface of the water, usually with insect-like wings sloped backward. Wet flies are not as popular as they once were and have been largely superceded by nymphs.
Whip finisher: A tool used in tying flies that helps the fly tier lay down a smooth and compact head of the fly.
Winding: Wraps of thread that are used to attach the stripping guides and snake guides on the fly rod blank.
Wind knots: In the process of casting, especially for beginners, loops form particularly in the leader and tippet. The formation of such loops is made worse by casting in the wind and hence when they become knots in the leader or tippet they are called wind knots.
X diameter: A system to indicate the diameter of leader and tippet material, with 0X (zero-X) representing the largest diameter (.011 inches) and 8X (.003 inches) representing a small, light diameter. Commonly used values are 1X (.010), 2X (.009), 3X (.008), 4X (.007), 5X (.006), 6X (.005). The strength of these monofilament diameters varies with the kind of material.