Glossary of canal fishing terms

What's the difference between gozzers and groundbait? Or do you use a whip, rod or pole? If you're new to fishing, take a look at our handy glossary of canal fishing terms.

Bread punch: anglers use a tool called a bread punch to ‘punch out’ a small disc of bread from a slice of normal bread to use as bait on the hook. The term has stuck to mean feeding with bread generally, although you can use breadcrumbs in a small cup on a pole and sprinkle it into the swim as groundbait

Frank Shenton: my favourite peg Frank Shenton: my favourite peg

Coarse vs game fishing: game fishing is typically for trout and salmon in rivers, coarse fishing is in all sorts of other inland waterways and canals where you're generally fishing for perch, carp, roach, bream etc

Fish pass: where a river has migrating fish like trout or salmon that swim up stream to spawn and a structure like a lock or weir has been built, we can add a structure called a fish pass to help the fish bypass the blockage and continue their journey and so spawn

Gozzers: are either the larva of the common European bluebottle fly or flies that are black in colour – which ever it is, this maggot is used as a bait to catch the fish on a hook

Groundbait: groundbaits are usually made from fine breadcrumbs. It's poured or sprinkled onto the top of the water to attract fish to that area. The idea being that anglers fish over the top of their groundbait in that spot on the water. Groundbait comes in a variety colours to match the environment. When mixed with water to make a heavy ball of bread, they're thrown in to create a small area on the bottom of the canal to attract bottom feeding fish

Keep net: once you have caught a fish and unhooked it, you can keep it in an appropriate net sitting within the water to keep the fish alive. Usually as part of match fishing where you need to weigh how many fish you’ve caught by the end of the match

Landing net: a landing net on a pole is used to net fish too big to swing in

Lure/lure fishing: the use of artificially designed rubber and plastic lures with hooks that imitate moving fish. They are cast and retrieved by rod and line to catch fish like pike or perch

Peg: a favourite ‘spot’ or location of a canal or river where the angler prefers to go fishing. Pegs were used to ‘peg out’ the places where match anglers could fish along a particular stretch during a competition without straying on to each others’ area

Pinkies: smaller that the standard large maggot, pinkies are the larva of common greenbottle flies and are pink in colour. The angler attached them to the hook as bait for fish

Pinkies bait Pinkies bait

Squatts: are another type of fly maggot and the smallest used by anglers. These white or red maggots are attached to the hook to catch fish like roach. But often just used as loose feed

Skimmers: the nick name for baby and juvenile silver bream

Stillwaters: canals and rivers are moving bodies of water. A lake, pond or reservoir is a still body of watch, it’s not flowing anywhere, it is a stillwater

Swim: the spot in the water where you are fishing, you might hear an angler say that a boat has just gone through the swim and scared off the fish

Tight lines: used by anglers to wish each other luck

Whip: a type of rod or pole used without a reel to catch fish on canals (what ever you call it, you'll need a rod licence)

Waterway Wanderers permit: you may have heard you need a rod licence from the Environment Agency to use a fishing rod, but you’ll also need a permit to fish from a fishery from the fishery owner. Some of our waters are managed by local angling clubs and you’d pay for a day permit to fish there. Where the stretch doesn’t have a managing club, we remain responsible fore the fishery and you can buy your permit from us under our Waterway Wanderers scheme

Last date edited: 19 November 2019