Hawaii Sportfishing Terms

Aft - The rear of the boat.

Angler - A person who fishes with a rod and line.

Backing Down - Running the boat backwards to pursue a fish (in reverse)

Bait Station - Area on a fishing boat for preparing bait.

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.

Bathymetry - Is the study of underwater depth of lake or ocean floors.

Beam - Measurement of a boat at its widest point.

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. 

Bent Butt Rods - The end of the rod is bent. Most sportfishing boats will have these on their boats. These rods make it much easier when using a "Fighting Chair or a harness".

Berth - A place to sleep aboard a boat, Also a boat slip.

Big Game Fish - Often referred to as offshore sportfishing, offshore gamefishing, or blue-water fishing is a form of recreational fishing, targeting large fish renowned for their sporting qualities.

Bilge - Lowest section inside a boat's hull where water collects.

Billfish - Any several species of pelagic fish, including sailfish, spearfish, blue, black or white marlin, and swordfish. 

Bimini Top - A canvas cover over the helm or cockpit area.

Bottom Fish - Fish that spend most of their lives on bottom, such as cod, snapper, and grouper.

Bow - Forward portion of the boat.

Buoy - An anchored floating object that serves as a navigational aid.

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

Cast Off - To unfasten all lines in preparation for departure.

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.

Chumming - Placing fish or fish parts in the water to attract game fish.

Coastal pelagic - An offshore fish that migrates along the coastline, but isn't a true, ocean going pelagic. Examples are kingfish, Spanish mackerel, cobia.

Cockpit - Desk space for the crew of a boat, typically recessed.

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.

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

FAD's - Fish Aggregation Devices, these buoys attract schools of tuna and other important pelagic fishes, such as dolphinfish (Mahimahi), wahoo (Ono), and billfish. FADs allow fishermen to easily locate and catch these species.

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 - An open deck above the main bridge of a vessel such as a yacht or cabin cruiser, typically equipped with duplicate controls.

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. 

Grander - A fish weighing 1,000 pounds or more

Grander Alley - Kona has the reputation of producing large marlin, mostly the Pacific blue variety. According to records, 63 marlin weighing 1,000 pounds or more have been caught off the Kona Coast, which has come to be known as "Grander Alley,"

IGFA - The International Game Fish Association is a not-for-profit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and the promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule making and record keeping.

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. 

Nautical Mile - A distance of 6,076.12 feet or 1,852 meters, which is about 15% longer then a statute mile. Equivalent to one minute of latitude on a navigational chart.

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. 

Spread - The fundamental point of trolling is to arrange baits to create the illusion of a school of panicked bait. Most Boats in Hawaii will have 5-6 lines trolling. A larger boat may have 10 or more.

Stern - Aft portion of the boat.

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. 

Stow - To put an object away onboard a boat, to store.

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. 

Tag and Release- Is a form of catch and release fishing in which the angler attaches a tag to the fish, records data such as date, time, place, and type of fish on a standardized postcard, and submits this card to a fisheries agency or conservation organization. Anglers who catch tagged fish report their location, date, and time, as well as the tag number to established points of contact. . 

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 - To fish by towing an array of baited lines or lures behind the 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.

V-berth - A bed or berth located in the bow that has a V-shape.

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.