Why is Fishing Called Angling

For modern fishermen, the term fishing and angling is one and the same and used interchangeably throughout all sorts of media. The two words have been so closely intertwined for so long now that it is very rare to confuse the two.

The word “fishing” is pretty simple, right? It means “to fish”. But where the heck doe the word angler come from, and why is fishing called angling?

Ultimately, this word comes from its germanic and old English roots of language and means “hook”, but this meaning is widely contested. There are many different theories and opinions on the true origin of the term angling.

Read on for us to take you through that journey of various trains of thought of how “angling” came to mean “fishing”.

Origin Of Angling


There is an ancient Germanic tribe called the Angles. They differed from other tribes as they started to fish using hooks and poles rather than traditionally netting. Many believe this type of fishing was hence named after the Angle tribe.

In actual fact, the tribe was named Angles after the preexisting term for this fishing technique, not the other way around!

Other entomologists argue that the Angle tribe was named after the word angle or hook, due to the shape of the peninsula they inhabited resembling a hook.


Some fishermen like to think that the world angler simply arose from “angleworm”, which is a type of worm fishermen use as bait and was coined in America in 1830.

But, angle worms are not a separate species of worm, rather just a general earthworm used as bait for hook fishing.

The term angle predates the term angleworm.


Perhaps the most simple line of thought is that the term angler was coined by the angle that exists between the rod and the line of the rod – that’s why rod fishing is referred to as angling.

While this fits nicely, it is not the true origin.

Hooks: The Truth

As you can clearly see, the history of the words angle, angler, and angling have some contestation. Many theories and opinions do make sense in many regards but the true origin dates back a lot further than any of the previous theories.

The actual emergence of the term angling was a lot longer ago than we can imagine, first published in 1496 in a book by Dame Juliana Berners “Treatise of Fishing with an Angle”. While this was the first official publication, the word stemmed from ancient times long before.

This word was adapted from the ancient middle English verb engelen, which means “to fish”, this word predates the word used to describe an angle, which came from aungle, meaning “corner of a room”.

With this history, it’s pretty clear that angle means “hook”.

Is A Fisherman The Same As An Angler?

Why is Fishing Called Angling

While these two words are widely used to describe the same thing, their official definitions hold some differences, and we will outline them below.


Anglers are fishermen who use angling as a method for fishing. Fishing with a fishing hook (angle) is known as fishing with an angle.

Various components attach to the hook, including a fishing line, fishing rod, fishing reel, etc. It’s easy to understand. Sportfishing usually involves angling, but commercial fisheries also use angling methods such as longlining.


Someone who is a fisherman captures fish, animals, or shellfish from the water. Men and women may both be described as recreational fishermen using this term, despite it references men.

A fisherman includes all different types of fishing, not just hook fishing (as is angling).

Does It Matter Which Term I Use?

Ultimately, no, it doesn’t! Angling is a type of fishing, precisely the kind that involves hooks. So really, angling is what we traditionally know as regular fishing.

Meanwhile, fishing encompasses any method of catching/collecting seafood to be used for both angling and any other seafood collection.

The use of either of these terms might be more specific depending on the circles you move in, but the use of either word is generally universally understood. There’s little chance of confusion in conversation so worry not!


Is Fly Fishing Considered Angling?

Fly fishing is indeed a type of angling as although it lacks the use of bait. It still utilizes a rod and hooks.

Since roughly 200 CE, recreational fly-fishing has been a popular way to catch fish. Making it one of the oldest forms of angling.

Several English writers mentioned fly-fishing as early as the 15th and 16th centuries, but the sport was almost certainly being practiced in Europe several centuries earlier than these writings.

What Do You Call A Women Fisherman?

Many modern words often are centered around men, like back when the terms were coined, it was exclusively done by men. Nowadays, there are just as many women fishermen.

Angler is a good choice for a genderless term, but a woman who fishes can just as easily be called a fisherwoman.

What Are The Different Methods Of Angling?

The five primary angling methods are bait fishing, fly-fishing, bait casting, spinning, and trolling. All are used in both freshwater and saltwater angling.

  • Bait fishing – bait fishing is the oldest and most widely used fishing technique. It is also known as still fishing or bottom fishing. It is the simple use of a baited hook cast to lure and capture fish by mouth.
  • Fly-fishing – fly fishing is an angling technique in which a light surface lure is used to catch fish. Artificial flies are used in this method. A fly rod, reel, and specialised line are used to cast the fly. Due to the light weight, casting techniques differ significantly from other forms of casting. 
  • Spinning –  Spincasting differs primarily in the type of reel, the rod length, as well as the strength of the line.
  • Trolling – Trolling is the process of dragging bait or lures through the water as a boat slowly moves along, initially rowed but now typically powered by an electric motor.
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