Fishing Terms Used Outside of the Sport

Fishing Terms Used Outside of the Sport
Fishing is an art that has been practiced for many centuries, probably more than any other sport out there. As such, many of its terms have entered our language as similes for other situations. The chances are, you may use a fishing term yourself in the workplace today and not even realize you’ve done it. That’s how common the terminology of fishing is.

Fishing language is often found in other sports, with some terminology making its way over from the rivers and lakes into football commentary, soccer reports and baseball chatter. There’s no wonder we hear so much fishing lingo in the wider world; language is based upon knowledge, and as fishing is such a traditional pastime, people know the terminology. That’s why terminology from other well-known sports can be found in real life, too. How many times have you ‘struck out’ on a date? As you well know, that comes from baseball, and much of our language is derived from sporting occurrences.

Here are four terms you will often use in sports that come from the world of fishing.


We know the bait is part of the deception used to lure a fish onto the hook in fishing. It is the seemingly tasty morsel behind which lies an outcome the fish did not expect. That’s the same in sport, and we often see trash talk in the build-up to games. Sometimes, a player will ‘take the bait’, which means they react negatively to a comment from a rival. reveals that superstar quarterback Tom Brady refused to take the bait when goaded by the media earlier this year.


Angling is a broad name for fishing and one of the most commonly-used pieces of terminology outside of the sport. People can be found ‘angling for a promotion’ within an organization, or angling from a move from team to team. Did you know that an angle shoot in poker is a term for legal cheating? explains that if a player is caught angling, they are essentially cheating within the rules. For instance, they might be hiding their real chips total to make themselves seem in a weaker position, or ‘pump faking’, which makes it look like you’re betting a large amount but without actually doing so. It’s all very underhand.


The lure is much like bait; in the fishing context it is an artificial bait that still looks to attract fish to your hook. In sports, you can often hear commentators talk about players being lured out of position. It might be a teasing ball luring someone from a base in MLB or a footballer being lured up the field by a play from the opposition and later being caught out. The terminology within sports essentially means a player is tempted to a place he or she doesn’t want to be, much like a fish on a hook.

Reeling In

When a team is a long way ahead in their division but begins to falter, they are often described as ‘reeled in’ by the chasing teams. The imagery comes straight from fishing – after hooking a fish, there is usually some distance between the angler and his or her prize, but the process of reeling the catch in makes it much shorter. The same is often said when a team is looking to ‘catch’ a big player that may usually be unavailable. For instance, describes Inter Miami’s capture of French star Blaise Matuidi as ‘reeling in a big fish’.

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