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Glossary of New Zealand Fishing Terms

In addition to this glossary, see the terms defined as part of the New Zealand sports fishing regulations.

Term Description Read more
m3/sec cubic metres per second (measure of river flow)  
4WD Four-wheel drive vehicle. Also known as ATVs.  
AFTM rating Association of Fishing Tackle Makers rating of fly fishing rod weight More
allowed permitted, legal, OK. (not allowed = prohibited, illegal)  
artificial fly A lure made of feather, fur, wool or other material. More
ATV All Terrain Vehicle. Commonly called a four wheel drive (4WD) in new Zealand. Also known as Off Road Vehicles (ORV).  
back-country streams Remote fishing areas that require some effort to get to. May be accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicle or by a few hours walk. More
bait A natural insect or fish used as a lure (as opposed to an artifical fly) More
berm / berm land A narrow ledge or strip of grass beside the road  
blind fishing Fishing over likely lies, although not being able to see the fish in the water.  
catch and release Releasing fish alive back into the waters from which they were caught, with minimal harm done.  
coarse fishing Fishing for perch, tench ( all New Zealand) and rudd
(Auckland/Waikato Fish and Game Region only) which have large scales compared to trout.
colour A colour is 10 metres of lead core line. Each colour will take a lure down 3-4 feet or about a metre.  

The meeting of two rivers, or the meeting of a river and a  lake.

dam A dam constructed as part of a hydro-electric power station.  
cumec cubic metre per second (a measure of river flow)  
delta River mouth  
didymo Didymosphenia geminata commonly known as didymo or rock snot is a freshwater algae that is a biosecurity risk to New Zealand waters It can form dense colonies called algal blooms. More
DOC The Department of Conservation. Responsible for the Taupo trout fishery area.  More
DOC concession A DOC concession is an official authorisation to operate in an area managed by the Department of Conservation. Fishing guides who take paying clients on to DOC land to fish must have a concession. More
DOC hut A basic hut maintained by the Department of Conservation (DOC) that can be used by those walking, fishing or hunting in remote regions of New Zealand.  
downstream Away from the source of the river; the direction in which the river flows.  
dry fly A floating artificial fly that resembles an insect that has landed on the water or one that has just hatched. More
emerger A nymph on the point of emerging as a winged adult that is struggling to penetrate the water's surface tension. More
falls An abbreviation for waterfalls  
Fish & Game
The organisation responsible for sports fishing in all areas of New Zealand except Taupo. It is made up of 12 regional councils with offices in each region. (You may also see it spelt Fish&Game or Fish and Game). More
flyfishing Fishing for sports fish with a fly rod, fly reel, fly line and artificial fly More
foul hooking To hook a sports fish other than from within the
mouth. Foul-hooked fish must be returned to the water immediately with as little injury as possible.
fresh, a A rise in the river water level due to a fall of rain, after which which the fishing can be expected to be good.  
gaff A stick with a sharp iron hook for landing large fish. Gaffs are not permitted when fishing for freshwater sports fish, except to secure or land salmon in the Otago region. More
GST Goods and Service Tax (12.5%)  
gut the section of water where a river narrows prior to entering the sea  
ha hectares  
harling A method of boat fishing in which a large wet fly (or lure) is towed slowly behind the boat and not allowed to sink far below the surface of the water. More
headwaters The source of a river.  
hydro lake An artificial lake formed by the contruction of a Dam to produce hydro-electricity.  
jigging A method of boat-fishing in which a lure is sunk to the depth in a lake where fish are expected to be and jigged up and down. More
King Country A more remote area of the Auckland/Waikato region, south west of Hamilton. More
kokanee Landlocked sockeye salmon  
legal lure/bait Any bait or lure that can be used to legally catch sports fish - artificial fly, spinner and/or bait depending on the regulations for the specific fishing water. More
license A licence is required to fish for trout, salmon and coarse fish in New Zealand. More
lie Any place in the water where the fish lie waiting for food or resting.  
LLO Local Launch Operator certificate  
lure Confusingly, this term is used variously to mean either spinners and all types of fly, or just spinners, or just wet flies/streamers. More
lure fishing Sometimes used to mean fly fishing using a wet fly or streamer. More
midge A non-biting, non-disease carrying insect, superfically resembling a mosquito, that flies in swarms at dusk on calm nights. It is commonly found at lakes and rivers throughout New Zealand. More
MSA Maritime Safety Authority  
nymph A small fly that imitates an emerging or hatching insect which is fished below the surface of the water. More
palmered fly A wet or dry fly with a thick body and a few or no tail fibres. It is best identified by the thick hackle collar. It has no wings. More
permitted Allowed, legal, OK  
prohibited Forbidden, illegal, not allowed, not permitted, not OK  
Rd Road (use in road and street names)  
riparian reserve A margin of land approximately 20 meters wide along the banks of many rivers and lakes that is reserved for public access. Also known as the Queens Chain (see below).  
Riverline A service provided by the Wellington Fish & Game Council that advises whether waters in the regions are  clear or dirty and able to be fished or not . More
rock snot Didymosphenia geminata, commonly known as didymo, is a freshwater algae that is a biosecurity risk to New Zealand waters It can form dense colonies called algal blooms. More
run fish Fish on a spawning run upstream  
Queen's Chain

A term commonly used to refer to a margin of land 20 metres wide along the banks of many rivers, lakes and sea that is owned by the Crown or a local authority and usually available for public access.  See also a description of the Queen's Chain at the DOC website.

sea-run fish Fish on a spawning run upstream from the sea  
SH State Highway, e.g. SH1 is the main highway between Auckland and Wellington, and between Picton and Invercargill.  
sight fishing Being able to see or spot the fish in the water and fish to it.  
sink tip A floating line where the last portion is designed to sink below the surface in order to present flies deep in the water.  
smelt A small fish which is a food source for large trout  
spinner An artificial lure other than an artificial fly which is cast with a threadline rod and reel.  
sports fishing

Typically fishing for trout and salmon but also includes coarse fishing for tench, perch and rudd.

St Street (use in street names)  
streamer A type of wet fly designed to resemble a small fish.  
tackle The equipment used for fishing  
tippet The thin nylon attaching the fly to the fly line.  
topographic map A map that shows the contours of the land and a variety of important features. Essential for those wishing to fish in backcountry or wilderness areas. More

A method of boat fishing in which a spinner-type lure or large fly is towed behind a moving boat with the aim of getting the lure down deep, using for example a lead-core line.

true left The true left bank is the left bank when looking downstream  
true right The true right bank is the right bank when looking downstream  
upstream Towards the source of the river; the direction opposite to that in which the river flows.  
wet fly A fly that is fished with a sinking line and usually represents a small hatching insect. (See also "streamer".) More
wetlining Fishing a sinking line, usually downstream More
wilderness fishing A very remote fishing region that can only be accessed by walking a considerable distance (usually at least a days full walking) or by helicopter. More


Fish the Wellington region

Tarata Fishaway

Green Trout Guiding

Edge House

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