I loathe the saying “tight lines”

I loathe the saying “tight lines” – I can remember when people started using it (or possibly when I first noticed it) and I try and avoid it as much as possible. To me it just seems twee or maybe just a wee bit cheesy. Somehow it always makes me feel slightly uncomfortable – a bit like when you meet someone else fishing and you want to know how they are getting on – “Any Joy?” is the standard question, you are assuming that the person when catching a trout is so full of wonder that there heart is full of joy – probably after stalking and casting to a particularly belligerent 8 inch trout that eventually took the dry fly after scaling everything down to a spider web tippet and a microscopic fly – sure I get joyful but I also get a sense of deep satisfaction. However “Any satisfaction?” sounds like you have been trying to score rent boys at some of the more savoury parts of the River Kelvin.

However I digress, I was glad that Murdock decided to come up with some alternatives to the standard parting of “Tight Lines” and would like to add a few more.

Bag Up -oh yes the standard for the boys that fish the competitions on the reservoirs who catch so many trout they require a large bag (possibly a sack) to carry their trout home, once only an English saying it has now came into good old Scotland. You can also turn this into a question for the end of the day – Bag Up?

Kill em’ all – Could be used on the fishery scene where you are paying for the privilege of killing fish (is that not the best part of fishing?) – look pal I have paid for 5 fish and I expect to slaughter the lot and keep the buggers in the freezer. Oh I suppose this can be used as a question as well some people pay for extra killing tickets…..Kill em’ all?

Bent Rods – I suppose this could be taken the wrong way and I am assuming this is why Murdock never came up with it. Oh, to hear a pile of anglers leaving the loch side all shouting out “Bent Rods” – it would bring a tear to my eye that would.

Wet Indicators – This one goes out to one of my fishing buddies who constantly utilises an indicator – you are hoping his indicator is permanently under the water instead of floating along quite happily. Although to be honest I pretty much know his is wet as I can see him hauling them in like a commercial fisherman most of the time.

If you feel embarrassed about saying any standard angling greeting you can also add and extra “n’ all that” to show your slight embarrassment to your hope that the other person does well. Assuming you want the bugger to do well in the first place of course.


  1. David · June 5, 2008

    I don’t see many people on the river I fish but the odd dog walker sometimes asks ” any luck ” which I think they are implying that I will need a lot of luck to catch anything as they have probably been watching my casting and splashing with amusement.

  2. Paul · June 5, 2008

    Great post.I utterly detest that saying too.Makes me cringe.

  3. Kbarton10 · June 5, 2008

    I couldn’t agree more, I always figured “tight lines” was best served as a salutation for a fat guy wearing a striped shirt in an Italian restaurant.

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  5. Lupi · June 5, 2008

    Oh dear oh dear Gavin ,when it come to someone wishing you well , “with tight lines ” .and it offends you ,then you really are like Thurdays child !!!
    best regards Lupi

  6. Peter · June 5, 2008

    My most hated phrases are generally from the non-fisherperson observing you actively fishing e.g. “Q: Are there any fish in there? A: No, none at all, I’m simply attempting to disguise my fetish for standing waist deep in water ” or the classic assured statement:
    “You’ll no catch anythin’ in there pal!”
    “But I caught two trout here last night!”
    ” Naw, I’m tellin’ you, you’ll no get anythin’ in there pal, yer wasting yer time!”

  7. James · June 5, 2008

    I confess to having used “any joy?” but it’s not an expression I associate with fishing in particular. I’m more like to ask “anything doing?”

    I also dislike “tight lines” and I never use it.

    Funny you should mention the rent boys on the banks of the Kelvin. I remember being watched from the bushes by a “lonely young man” (ahem) down at Kelvingrove. Whenever I turned round to drag my errant backcast from the overhanging branches, there he would be, looking rather hopeful. Perhaps he thought my waders were indicative of other, more specialist, interests. I guess there’s more than one way to have fun in rubber gear. Each to their own.

  8. Alistair · June 5, 2008

    David – Look the buggers straight in the eye and tell em’ you don’t NEED luck – it is ALL skill. Don’t fall in for ten minutes afterwards though!

    Kbarton – I always imagined wadered up anglers snorting lines of cocaine of each others rods.

    Peter – When you catch something in front of them it is all the sweeter.

    James – Good way to keep people away from sweet spots in the park those stories 🙂

  9. Murdock · June 5, 2008


    Classic! I like your picks much better than my own.

    Dragless Drifts,


  10. Alistair · June 5, 2008

    Originally Posted By Murdock
    Dragless Drifts,

    Ahhh but do you MEAN it?

  11. Jim · June 5, 2008

    I hate “Tight Lines” too, worse still is “Yours in Sport”. I really hate that.

    I’m nippy about calling fishing a sport, for me sport is competitive…. fishing should not be, I don’t like the idea of competitions on rivers. But I’m running off at a tangent.

    When meeting folk on the river I generally use “Much happening?” and “Good Luck”, posts and e-mails I prefer “Cheers”.



  12. dave · June 5, 2008

    Round here you get the classic “Caught owt mate” always from non fishing folk who then proceed to walk round the entire water telling everyone where the big fish are and how you should be fishing.

  13. Alistair · June 5, 2008

    Hmmm “Much Happening” – I like that – must be one of the best – it infers that you dont actually have to be catching fish to be having a nice time – you can say that you have seen some action however have been watching the birds for the last three hours – i like it!!

    Dave – they are usually the people who insist on telling you that there are no fish in their as well 🙂

  14. Bernie · June 5, 2008

    Abu’s catalogues have been called “Tight Lines” since 1957!

    I don’t like the saying either, but it’s apparently been around longer than I have.

  15. Alistair · June 5, 2008

    Thanks for commenting Bernie – interesting about the catalogue !

  16. Pingback: Saying “Tight Lines” « The Urban Fly Fisher

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