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Definitions

I use a lot of fly fishing, entomology, and photography jargon on this site. The site incorporates these definitions wherever they're used, but it might help some people to see them all listed in one place. So here they are:

abdomen (abdomens): The rear and usually the longest (ten-segmented in mayflies) portion of an insect's body, to which the tails are attached.

alkaline (alkalinity): Having a pH higher than 7 (opposite of acidic). Moderately alkaline water is ideal for trout because it's better for the growth of phytoplankton, the usual base of the aquatic food chain, and that's good for the growth of everything higher up the chain, including trout.

anastomosed: Wing veins which branch out and rejoin, most often used to describe the sigmatic region of the wings of Rhithrogena mayflies.

anterior: Toward the front of an organism's body. The phrase "anterior to" means "in front of."

aperture (apertures): The aperture is one of the main settings a camera or photographer determines before taking a picture. It is the diameter of the opening in the inside of the lens through which light can pass, and it varies from picture to picture.

apex (apices): The uppermost, outermost, or culminating point; the tip.

apical (apically): Close to the apex; tip or end.

asynchronous: The same generation hatching at different times.

atrophy (atrophied): A body part which has shrunk or degenerated into a dysfunctional state is said to have atrophied. The mouth parts in adult mayflies are good examples.

attractor (attractors): Flies not designed to imitate any particular insect, but to incorporate characteristics attractive to trout. When trout aren't feeding selectively, attractors often outperform careful imitations as searching patterns because they are easier to see and incorporate more strike-triggering characteristics. They include legends like the Adams, Bivisible, and Royal Wulff.

basal (basally): close to the base; root or beginning

behavioral drift (behavioral drifting): The nymphs and larvae of many aquatic insects sometimes release their grip on the bottom and drift downstream for a while with synchronized timing. This phenomenon increases their vulnerability to trout just like emergence, but it is invisible to the angler above the surface. In many species it occurs daily, most often just after dusk or just before dawn.

bivoltine: Producing two generations per year.

brachypterous: With short or or addreviated wings.

brood (broods): When a species produces more than one generation per year, each one is called a brood.

bulla (bullae): An expanded point usually about half-way up the front edge of a mayfly wing, usually in the subcostal vein (first major vein not on the edge).

carapace (carapaces): A hard, protective shell on the back of an animal. In mayflies, this refers to the enlarged section of the mesonotum which forms the "humps" of Baetisca nymphs.

carina (carinae): A narrow keel-shaped anatomical ridge.

caudal: Toward the posterior tip of the body.

caudal cercus (caudal cerci): A technical term for tail.

caudal filament (caudal filaments): A technical term for tail. It may refer to any of the tails of a three-tailed insect, including the middle.

cercus (cerci): The left and right "tails" of an insect are known as the cerci or caudal cerci. The middle tail of a three-tailed insect is not.

chitin: A tough natural polymer which hardens the exoskeletons of insects and serves numerous other important biological functions.

clasper (claspers): The claspers, also known as forceps, are a pair of appendages beneath the tip of the abdomen of male mayfly adults, which are used to grab onto the female while mating.

compound eye (compound eyes): The eyes of many arthropods, including insects and crustaceans, are composed of anywhere from 12 to 1,000 facets called ommatidia. These are called compound eyes.

conical mesonotal projection (conical mesonotal projections): small cone shaped spike sticking up from the top and front part of the middle thorax segment.

costa (costal area): The area near the front margin of an insect's wing is called the costa or costal area.

costal angulation: A bend in the front margin of the hind wing of some insects, which is used as an identifying characteristic for some mayflies.

costal process (costal processes): A bump or point sticking up from the front margin of an insect's wing, usually the rear wing of certain mayflies. It is sometimes called a costal projection.

costal projection (costal projections): A bump or point sticking up from the front margin of an insect's wing, usually the rear wing of certain mayflies. It is sometimes called a costal process.

costal vein (costal veins): The thick vein which forms the front edge of an insect's wing.

coxa (coxae): The basal segment of an arthropod's jointed leg; comes from the Latin word for "hip," and it seems more like the segment of the body to which the "actual" leg connects.

cripple (cripples): In fly fishing, a cripple is any insect which has been injured or deformed so that it cannot escape the water. This may include stillborn emergers or fully emerged adults which have been damaged, often by wind or waves, so that they can no longer fly. Trout often favor eating crippled insects.

crossvein (crossveins): Short cross-wise veins in an insect wing which connect the long longitudinal (length-wise) veins.

cubital region (cubital regions): The lower back corner of an insect's wing, through which the cubital veins run.

cubital vein (cubital veins): Insect wing veins which stem from the cubitus.

cubitus: The fifth longitudinal vein connecting the wing margin to the wing base.

dead-drift (dead-drifting): The manner in which a fly drifts on the water when not moving by itself or by the influence of a line. Trout often prefer dead-drifting prey and imitating the dead-drift in tricky currents is a major challenge of fly fishing.

denticle (denticles): Small tooth-like projects, often appearing like serrations on the tarsal claws of certain mayfly nymphs.

detritivore (detritivores): eater of plant and animal debris

detritus: Small, loose pieces of decaying organic matter underwater.

diapause: A state of complete dormancy deeper even than hibernation. While in diapause, an organism does not move around, eat, or even grow. Some caddisfly larvae enter diapause for a few weeks to several months. Some species of microscopic zooplankton can enter diapause for several hundred years.

discal area (discal areas): The middle of an insect's wing.

distal: Far from the point of attachment or origin; near the tip.

dorsal: Top.

dun (duns): Mayflies have two adult stages. They first emerge from the water as duns (scientifically known as the subimago stage). They then molt into the spinner (imago) stage, in which they mate and die. Sometimes the word "dun" is confusingly used to refer to a brownish gray color in fly tying materials.

ecdysis: the process of casting the skin; moulting

eclosion (eclose): the act of emerging from the pupal or nymphal case or hatching from the egg

elytroid: The gills on some mayfly nymphs which are enlarged as shields to protect the other gills (as on Tricorythodes and Eurylophella nymphs) are called elytroid gills.

emergence (emergences): The transformation of a nymph or pupa into the adult winged stage of an insect. The term may refer to the emergence of an individual, or the daily or yearly event in which all individuals of a species emerge.

endemic: where found; native to; belonging exclusively to or confined to a particular place

femur (femora): The main segment of an insect's leg close to the body, in between the tibia and the trochanter.

filiform: Insect gills which are filamentous (feathery or thread-like) are described as filiform.

flight period (flight period): The span of time that the adults of an adult aquatic insect species are active and flying around, in between emergence and death. It may refer to the average adult lifespan of the individuals of that species, or to the total length of time for which at least some of them are active.

forcep (forceps): The claspers, also known as forceps, are a pair of appendages beneath the tip of the abdomen of male mayfly adults, which are used to grab onto the female while mating.

fossorial: Burrowing.

frons (frontes): The uppermost anterior part of the head of an insect, and part of its face.

gena (genae): An insect's cheek; the side of its face.

habitus: The physical and constitutional characteristics of an individual. Typically used meaning a view of the entire insect in an illustration or photo.

half-spent: The wing position of some insects which fall on the water after mating. Their wings on one side lay flat in the surface film while the wings on the other side stick up into the air. The term may refer to insects with their wings in that position, as well as the position itself. Many mayfly spinners fall half-spent before becoming spent.

haltere (halteres): Flies of order Diptera have stubby club-like appendages called halteres in place of hind wings.

hammer (hammers): A smooth clearly defined chitinous area on the ventral surface of the ninth abdominal segment of some male stoneflies used for drumming up mates.

hyaline: Highly transparent, or glassy; usually refers to insect wings, especially those of mayfly spinners.

hydrofuge: Able to shed water. Mayfly duns have hydrofuge bodies because of tiny hair-like and other structures which help trap air and shed water.

imago (imagoes): The sexually mature adult stage of the mayfly is called the imago by scientists and the spinner by anglers.

instar (instars): Many invertebrates molt through dozens of progressively larger and better-developed stages as they grow. Each of these stages is known as an instar. Hard-bodied nymphs typically molt through more instars than soft-bodied larvae.

intercalary (intercalaries): Intercalaries are small veins in a mayfly's wing which are attached to the hind edge of the wing, but not to any other major vein.

intercalary vein (intercalary veins): Intercalary veins are small veins in an insect's wing which are attached to the hind edge of the wing, but not to any other major vein. They are sometimes just called intercalaries.

labium: The lower mouth parts of an insect; the lower lip.

labrum: The platelike structure forming the roof of the mouth of insects; the upper lip.

lamelliform: Insect gills which are flat and platelike are described as lamelliform.

larva (larvae): Many classes of aquatic insects, such as caddisflies, midges, craneflies, dobsonflies, alderflies, and many more, are known as "larvae" rather than "nymphs" in their juvenile stages. They have mostly soft bodies rather than hard exoskeletons. These insects also advance through a "pupa" stage before reaching adulthood.

lateral: To the side.

leaf drift: The mass of dead leaves gathered on the bottom of the stream, sometimes stacked thick in still places like back eddies. Many aquatic invertebrates use the leaf drift for shelter and food. Most insects shred the leaves to digest the bacteria and plankton living on them, rather than digesting the leaves themselves.

life history (life histories): The detailed life cycle of an organism, including the stages it passes through and characteristic behavior relating to growth and reproduction.

longitudinal vein (longitudinal veins): Longitudinal veins are the major long veins running length-wise through an insect's wing, connecting the base to the outer margin, or the major branches from those veins.

lunate: Shaped like a crescent moon.

mandible (mandibles): The paired jaws of an insect which are used for grabbing food, located immediately behind the labrum.

marl: Loose sand, silt, or clay containing a high concentration of calcium carbonate.

masking hatch (masking hatches): When two types of insects are on the water simultaneously and the trout are feeding on the less noticeable one, the more prominent insect (usually brighter and/or larger but less abundant) is known as a masking hatch.

maxilla (maxillae): A set of paired mouth parts located behind the mandibles in most arthropods.

medial: Toward the middle of the body.

median vein (median veins): Longitudinal veins in an insect fore wing in between the radial and cubital veins.

mesal: Toward the middle.

mesonotum: The top of the insect mesothorax.

mesopleuron (mesopleurons): The side of the insect mesothorax, and the part to which the fore wings are attached in mayflies.

mesosternum (mesosterna): The bottom of the insect mesothorax, to which the middle pair of legs are attached.

mesothorax (mesothoraces): The middle segment of an insect's thorax, and in mayflies the largest.

metanotum: The top of the insect metathorax.

metapleuron (metapleurons): The side of the insect metathorax, to which the second pair of wings (if any) and the hind legs are attached.

metathorax: The small, posterior part of the thorax.

microdrag: The imperceptibly small unnatural motions of an artificial fly on the water, caused by its connection to the line. A trout's whole life is spent watching things drift naturally, and unnatural movement too subtle for us to detect is obvious to their specialized senses.

mid-dorsal: Located longitudinally (length-wise) along the center of the body.

molt (molting): When aquatic insects with hard exoskeletons (like mayfly and stonefly nymphs) grow bigger, their exoskeleton does not grow with them. Instead they grow a new, larger one underneath and shed the old one when it's too small. This process is called molting.

monotypic: a taxonomic level containing a single lower level. Example - a genus consisting of a single species.

morphology: The form and structure of an organism, or the study of the form and structure of organisms.

multibrooded: Producing more than one generation in a single year. Baetis mayflies are a classic example. Insects which produce a single generation with two distinct peaks (like the June and September hatches of Isonychia bicolor mayflies) are not multibrooded, because the fall insects are offspring from the previous fall instead of the current year's spring.

multivoltine: Having more than one generation per year.

naiad (naiads): Naiad is the technical term for nymph used by modern entomologists.

natural (naturals): A natural is a real insect (or similar creature) a trout might eat. The term is used to specify the real thing as opposed to its artificial imitation.

notum: The dorsal surface of an insect's thorax or any segment of the thorax.

nymph (nymphs): The juvenile, underwater stages of mayflies, stoneflies, dragonflies, and damselflies and other aquatic insects whose juvenile stages are covered by hard exoskeletons. The word can also refer to the fishing flies which imitate these creatures, in which case it is used as a blanket term for flies imitating any underwater stage of an invertebrate (except for crayfish and leeches).

occipital ridge (occipital ridges): An elevated plate or seam at the back of the head. Usually concave in shape with a row of spinules (tiny spines) running along it.

occiput (occipital): The back of the head.

ocellus (ocelli): A simple non-compound, single lens eye found in many arthropods. Mayflies have three ocelli in between their compound eyes.

operculate (operculum): Lidlike; usually used to describe the pair of enlarged elytroid gills (called the operculum) which some silt-dwelling mayfly nymphs like Caenis and Eurylophella have developed to shield their other gills from debris.

oviposit (ovipositing): To lay eggs.

ovipositor (ovipositors): A long, sometimes tube-like structure at the rear of female insects which helps them lay their eggs.

ovum (ova): Egg.

palp (palpus): A long, thin, often segmented appendage which can protrude from certain insect mouth parts such as the maxillae. Also known as the < />palpus.

palpus: A long, thin, often segmented appendage which can protrude from certain insect mouth parts such as the maxillae. Also known as the palp.

parthenogenesis: In some species of insects and other living things, such as the mayfly species Ameletus ludens, reproduction can take place without fertilization by a male. This process is called parthenogenesis.

pectinate (pectinations): Pectinations are tooth-like spines, arranged in rows like a comb, often found on the tarsal claws of some mayfly nymphs. Structures with pectinations are said to be pectinate.

penes: The paired genital structures of most male insects, which vary widely in form and are one of the main characteristics used for species identification.

pharate adult (pharate adults): Caddisflies are considered to be pupae during their transformation from larva into adult. This transformation is complete before they're ready to emerge. The emerging insect we imitate with the "pupa" patterns we tie is technically called a pharate adult. It is a fully-formed adult caddisfly with one extra layer of exoskeleton surrounding it and restricting its wings.

phylogeny (phylogenies): The evolutionary history and development of a taxon.

piscivorous (piscivore): Anything which eats primarily fish is a piscivore.

pleuron (pleura): The side of the thorax of an adult insect.

posterior: Toward the back of an organism's body. The phrase "posterior to" means "in back of."

pronotum: The top of the insect prothorax.

propleuron (propleurons): The side of the insect prothorax.

prosternum: The bottom of the insect prothorax.

prothorax: The anterior (front) segment of an insect's body.

proximal: Close to the base or point of origin.

pupa (pupae): Any insect which spends most of its juvenile lifetime as a larva first becomes a pupa for a time before emerging as a fully grown adult. Depending on the species, the pupal form can be very important for fly fishermen to imitate.

radial vein (radial veins): Major longitudinal veins on the insect fore wing in between the subcostal and median veins.

sclerite (sclerites): A hard plate of chitinous material, such as those that form the exoskeletons of arthropods, uninterrupted by cracks or sutures.

scutellum: A shieldlike plate which projects backward from the mesonotum or metanotum on the top of the thorax of some insects.

scutum: The central area of the mesonotum on an insect's thorax.

searching pattern (searching patterns): Any artificial fly pattern used when trout that aren't feeding selectively on anything in particular. A searching pattern may be an attractor or an imitation of something specific that the fish might favor even though it's not currently hatching.

seta (setae): Little hairs on insects.

shuck (shucks): The shed exoskeleton left over when an insect molts into its next stage or instar. Most often it describes the last nymphal or pupal skin exited during emergence into a winged adult.

somite (somites): An abdominal segment.

spent: The wing position of many aquatic insects when they fall on the water after mating. The wings of both sides lay flat on the water. The word may be used to describe insects with their wings in that position, as well as the position itself.

spinner (spinner): There are two winged stages of adult mayflies. They emerge from the water as duns, molt on land (usually) into their fully mature stage, spinners. As spinners, they mate, lay eggs, and die.

spiracle (spiracles): An external tracheal opening through which some arthropods breathe.

sternite (sternites): The bottom (ventral) part of a single segment on an insect's abdomen.

stigmatic: The stigmatic area is the part of an insect's fore wing near the tip of the front edge. Its characteristics are often important for identification.

stillborn (stillborns): In fly fishing, a stillborn insect is one which got stuck in its nymphal or pupal shuck during emergence and floats helplessly on the surface instead of flying away. It is a specific class of cripple, although it is sometimes used interchangeably with that term.

subcostal vein (subcostal veins): The first major longitudinal vein after the costal (front edge) vein and before the first radial vein.

subimago (subimagoes): Mayfly nymphs emerge from the water into subimagoes, better known to anglers as "duns." They are a sexually immature, winged, recognizably adult stage and they must molt one more time into imagoes or "spinners" before they can mate.

subspecies: Entomologists sometimes further divide a species into distinct groups called subspecies, which have two lower-case words on the end of their scientific name instead of one. The latter is the sub-species name. For example, Maccaffertium mexicanum mexicanum and Maccaffertium mexicanum integrum are two different subspecies of Maccaffertium mexicanum.

synonym (synonyms): A former name of a taxon, usually a species. Entomologists frequently discover that two insects originally described as different species are one in the same, and they drop one of the names. The dropped name is said to be a synonym of the remaining name. These changes take a while to trickle into the common knowledge of anglers; for example, Baetis vagans is now a synonym of Baetis tricaudatus.

tarsal claw (tarsal claws): The claws at the tip of the tarsus, on an insect's "foot."

tarsus (tarsi): The often multi-segmented outer leg section of an insect, which attached to the tibia.

tergite (tergites): The top (dorsal) part of a single segment on an insect's abdomen when it consists of a single chitinous plate (sclerite), or an individual sclerite if the segment has more than one.

tergum (terga): the dorsal part of an abdominal segment or segments (terga). Also used to describe the entire abdominal dorsum or the thoracic dorsal segments of Odonata.

terrestrial (terrestrials): Insects which live on land and are fed on by trout only when they incidentally fall into the water are known as "terrestrials" to fly anglers, and they're very important in late summer.

thorax (thoracic): The thorax is the middle part of an insect's body, in between the abdomen and the head, and to which the legs and wings are attached.

tibia (tibiae): A middle segments in the leg of an insect, located between the femur and the tarsus.

trachea (trachea): An air tube, like those in the gills or the spiracles of an insect.

trivoltine: Producing three generations per year.

trochanter (trochanters): A short segment near the base of an insect's leg, which joins the coxa on the inside to the femur on the outside.

truncate: Cut off. This is often used to describe the square appearance of the gills of Maccaffertium mayfly nymphs, for example, as opposed to the pointed gills of the closely related genus Stenacron.

tubercle (tubercles): Various peculiar little bumps or projections on an insect. Their character is important for the identification of many kinds of insects, such as the nymphs of Ephemerellidae mayflies.

turbinate: Shaped like a top or elevated on a stalk; usually refers to the eyes of some adult male Baetidae mayflies which are wider near the tip than at the base.

univoltine: Producing more than one generation per year.

veinlet (veinlets): Short insect wing veins connecting the major longitudinal veins to the wing margin.

venation: The pattern in which the veins on the wings of an insect are arranged. It is usually one of the most useful identifying characteristics.

ventral: Toward or on the bottom.

vertex (vertices): In entomology, vertex refers to the top of an insect's head.

vestigial: An anatomical structure which has become dysfunctional and partially "shriveled away" after hundreds of generations of non-use is said to be vestigial. The human tailbone is a classic example.

wing pad (wing pads): A protrusion from the thorax of an insect nymph which holds the developing wings. Black wing pads usually indicate that the nymph is nearly ready to emerge into an adult.

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