Al Campbell, Field Editor

September 29th, 2003

A Flyfisher's Guide to a Better Vocabulary
By Al Campbell

When I was in high school, I had an English teacher who told us that the key to success was a good vocabulary. She said the best way to expand your vocabulary and your chances for success, was to learn a new word and its definition every day. She was right; if you want to be successful, you need a better vocabulary.

As flyfishers, we already have a unique vocabulary, and a grand one it is. We get to use great words like dubbing and mending and drifting; but do we really know what those words mean? If you look them up in a dictionary, you'll only get confused. The only way to get it right is to have a writer of the flyfisher's language teach you the meanings.

That's what I intend to do; teach you the language. I promise that at least some of what I teach you will be true. It's your duty to discover what that something is. You want to be successful, don't you? Your future depends on it, so don't muff this one up.

For starters, learn these few simple words in the flyfisher's vocabulary, and you'll be on your way to a brighter future and grand success. If you learn exceptionally well, you could be on your way to a job as a flyfishing writer. That, coupled with a full-time day job should keep you fed; and if you do exceptionally well at the day job, you might be able to afford a fishing trip or two. See what I mean? You're on the way to success already.

Without further delay, here are some words you must know the meaning to, if you want to be successful a flyfisher:

  • Mending - According to the dictionary, this would be an act of repairing. That would mean that mending a fly line is an act of repairing a damaged fly line. This word had more meaning before silk lines were replaced with the new plastic versions. Why somebody decided that this is something you can do without a needle and thread is beyond me.

  • Drift - This is the act of moving aimlessly down a current with little or no control over the direction of travel. The way some people fish a fly; that would be a correct definition.

  • Dubbing - According to the dictionary, this is the act of conferring a title on someone or something. That would be the process of naming the fly you just created. No wonder there is so much talk about the proper way to apply dubbing. It's a disgrace to name a fly improperly.

  • Back-cast - as you will notice, this is a hyphenated word. That means that both words used to make up the selected word have their own meaning. It also means that the hyphenated word has a meaning that is somewhat connected to the individual words. To further define this word, you must understand the meanings on the individual words.

    First the word "back." That is a part of your anatomy that keeps your head off the ground. Thus, your back keeps your body erect and standing tall, and if it is strong, it keeps your head out of the water so you don't drown.

    Then there is the word "cast." A cast is a stiff, hard object placed on the anatomy to strengthen that portion of the anatomy, usually for the purpose of healing. If you have a weak or injured part of your anatomy, a cast would be used to help that part of the anatomy perform its function while it recovered from its injury or weakness.

    Thus, a back-cast is something you put on before you go fishing so your head won't slip underwater and cause you to drown. That's why people tell you to keep your back-cast up. If you don't, it might slip down around your knees and you might drown anyway.

    See; you already learned how to successfully prevent accidental drowning from a dropped back-cast.

  • Roll-cast - Another hyphenated word, so we must define each part of the word to grasp its true meaning.

    A roll is something you eat. It might be a cinnamon roll or a dinner roll, but it is something you eat.

    The word "cast" has an additional meaning. In addition to the noun we used earlier, it can be a verb meaning to throw something. In this case, it is a verb.

    Therefore, a roll-cast is the act of tossing somebody a roll at the dining table. This is especially useful if reaching across the table might cause you to strain something you don't want to strain. That could harm your fishing form.

  • Strike-indicator - Don't you just love those hyphenated words?

    A strike is something workers stage to protest low wages, poor working conditions or other management practices. It's also something people do to protest things they don't like for some reason.

    An indicator is something that reveals movement or other qualities in something else. For instance, an economic-indicator reveals the trends in the economy.

    Therefore, a strike indicator reveals the effectiveness or direction of a strike. This is especially useful if people are picketing your fishing hole to protest slow biting fish, and you want to have some way to recognize if their strike is close to ending so you can fish that hole.

  • Fly-line - OK, I promise this is the last hyphenated word.

    A fly is usually something known as an insect. It could also be an artificial thing used to imitate an insect.

    A line is otherwise known as a story that is rather hard to believe. It might be used in a sentence something like this: "Did you hear that line he was telling about that big fish?"

    Thus, a fly-line would be a story about an insect or an item used to imitate an insect. To put the hyphenated word in the correct context, it would go something like this: "Did you hear that fly-line he was trying to get us to believe?"

  • Outdoor-writer - So I lied about it being the last one. I'm a fisherman; what do you expect?

    Outdoor is a descriptive word use to describe something that isn't indoors.

    A writer is a storyteller. He/she does the story telling on paper, usually in publications like magazines and books.

    So, you would conclude from the two words that an outdoor-writer would be a person who tells or more correctly, writes stories while outdoors, but that isn't true at all. In fact, most outdoor-writers do all their story telling indoors, but they tell stories about the outdoors. I know; it doesn't make any sense, but when did people in my profession make sense anyway?

  • There you have it, a good start to a larger vocabulary. If my teacher was right, you are bound to be more successful because of it too. Don't you feel better now? ~ AC

    Previous Al Campell Columns

    If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

    [ HOME ]

    [ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice