Saying “Tight Lines”

Going by what people have been searching for on my fancy blog stats some people are trying to work out why anglers says “Tight Lines” to each other. Here from my archives is what I have got to say on the matter:

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 theRiver 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.

A picture of a Kelvin trout, you can tell it is a Kelvin trout as quite frankly it looks a bit fucked!


I really enjoy reading your comments - say something!

  1. Chuck Graves · May 9, 2013

    I was told by some fishing buddy (can’t remember who) that you are also never supposed to wish a person fishing ‘good luck.’ If you do it brings them bad luck. My response, as long as they’re not bugging me I could give a sh_t what they say. PS did the term ‘tight lines’ start in the states? It seems like something a preppy American would say.

  2. James · May 9, 2013

    I’m going to be fishing in Bavaria this summer. The traditional greeting for fishermen is “Petri heil” which, you’ll no doubt deduce is a salute in the name of St Peter, he being a noted fisherman. He was also something of a chib man (check out the story of the Roman soldier’s ear) which possibly makes “Petri heil” a good option for the Kelvin.

  3. Marcel · May 9, 2013

    If they say “Petri Heil” in Germany you will have to respond with “Petri Dank”.
    It is in fact a Salute to St. Peter, patron of the fisherman.

    Being a foreigner with membership in a German syndicate can be odd at times
    as they used that “Heil” quite a lot in their annual members meeting.
    Myself and some of the other Dutchmen where quite bewildered by a bunch
    of Germans shouting “Heil” at the meeting.
    It reminded us of the bad old days 🙂

  4. James · May 9, 2013

    Fishing in Germany is an experience: residents must take the state fishing exam, but visitors can apply to the local council office for a temporary licence, photographic ID, forms in triplicate etc etc. You get to experience German bureaucracy as a leisure pursuit 🙂 Keeps the idiots off the water, though. In Germany, you simply will not see the kind of behaviour we see on Scotland’s rivers.

  5. Marcel · May 9, 2013

    Keeps “most” idiots off the water 🙂

  6. JP2 · May 9, 2013

    Chuck: No idea if “tight lines” started on this side of the pond ,but I find it moronic in the extreme…Most ‘preppy’ types here are texting or yapping on their phones to much to talk to you. Which is fine,I don’t have to share my flask of Talisker with them…..

  7. Heather · May 9, 2013

    I beg to differ about saying tight lines. My father fished for trout his whole line, right up until the master called at the age of 84. He was a member of a local angling club all his days and ‘us kids’ wished him tight lines as he left geared up for a day on the river. I now use the expression when wishing someone good luck/fortune, and it also allows me a nostalgic throwback to simpler times. So I for one hold ‘ tight lines’ as a symbolic statement of hope!

  8. Joe · May 9, 2013

    As a longtime fly fisherman (over 50 years) from Upstate New York ( no not Westchester County…try the Adirondack mountains) I just learned today the term “tight lines”. WHERE THE HELL HAVE I BEEN!!!! Learned the term talking with my brother, who is a “Master” at fly fishing. He catches 5 big browns to my one. Anyways, Heather love your post and the memories it brings back on your DAD.