Annan Haaf Nets

Haaf Net Terminology

Terminology & Definitions associated with:


Haaf Netters

  • An ‘honest’ man: somebody who appears to be fishing on his own.
  • Back-o’-the- Hill-man: a fisher who lives at the Back-o-the-Hill.
  • Annan man, formerly Watchill man: a fisher who does not reside at the Back-of-the-Hill.
  • A desperate man/a hungry man: tongue in cheek description of a man from another gang who wants to fish where you are fishing.
  • A town crier: someone who broadcasts what was caught in the last tide.
  • A bag watcher: someone not fishing but watching to see what has been caught.
  • Good stander: someone prepared to stand in the water after all other fishermen have gone home.
  • Wooden fingers: someone not adept at feeling tugs.
  • Bad handling: friendly insult directed at someone who loses a fish.
  • Football supporter: someone who just follows other fishermen.
  • A marra: an EA licence holder.
  • Being carried: a man in a gang who is not catching much.
  • Setting the back: the man who has won the draw who then determines where everyone will stand.
  • Back-o-men: a line of haaf netters.
  • Haunting a bit/fishing hard: fishing every tide.
  • Following the fishing: watching the ground/conditions/catches.
  • Salmon fever: becoming obsessive about fishing.
  • Standing the pulls: feeling the tug of a fish but not lifting or a jibe at someone who isn’t getting any tugs.
  • New start: a beginner.
  • Going for a swim: walking into deep water or being swept away.
  • Cannae haud it: being unable to hold the beam against the current.
  • Taking too much: going in too deep and having to come back out.
  • Baw deep: up to the groin in water.
  • Half a haul: only being able to get half the beam out deep past the deep man.
  • Slipper deep: very shallow.
  • Holding by the end/whammeling: not holding the beam by the middle.
  • Fishing off the tails: using a back of men in front to turn fish back to you.
  • Silent treatment: not talking to another fisherman who you did not want to fish with you.
  • The draw/casting the mells: the traditional way of deciding who fishes where.
  • Pockle the draw: unfairly influence the outcome of the draw.
  • Dropping back: going behind but not leaving the required distance to the next back or fisher.
  • Over-the-top: wading too deep and then getting wet.
  • A false alarm: lifting and nothing in the net.
  • Stick through me: when one fisher sets his beam onto another fisher’s net.
  • Edging in: cheating, by moving in deeper into another’s haul.
  • Sounding: using the end of the beam to test the depth of water and firmness of the sand.
  • Harried the nest: caught everything so there’s no more fish to catch.
  • Creating a draught: edging slightly out of line when fishing in a back in order to draw fish into your net.
  • Leaving it late: not allowing enough time to get safely back to the shore.
  • Helicopter haul: a dangerous place to fish from which you may need rescued.
  • A spotter: a fisher watching for fish breaking on a shoal.



The fishing ground

  • Early/late flood: start of the flood out in the channel/ fishing the flood nearer the shore.
  • Half channel: the midway point between Scotland and England.
  • Gutter: a narrow hard running deepening.
  • Lead: a flow of water which is not part of the main channel.
  • Scar: an area of stones and rock.
  • Flow hole: a hole in the sand created by the action of the current.
  • Shoals: areas of shallow fast flowing water.
  • Headings: an area of shallow water above deep water which will turn fish.
  • Drop-over/edge: where water runs off a shoal and into an adjacent deepening.
  • Hem: similar to a drop over but with the current pushing the shallow tail to the deep and the deep tail shallow.
  • Breest: a slope on the sand into the water which fish may follow.
  • Lip: the rise of sand on an edge.
  • Soft sand/sugary sand/jelly sand: states of sand when not firm to stand on.
  • Crust: a thin layer of firm sand on top of softer sand beneath.
  • Backwater: an area of water which runs against the normal direction of flow.
  • Flood breeze: a change of air which can be felt just before the flood tide comes in.
  • Lowing: no wind and no movement on the water.




  • Stooring: when a fish sprays water of its back fin when swimming through shallow water.
  • Beaming: the V shaped mark a fish makes when swimming near the top of the water in calm conditions.
  • A boil: the splash/plop a fish makes when it turns over on the top of the water.
  • A rive/a dunt/a drag: the different ways a salmon can pull the net.
  • Very light: the slightest of touches on the net.
  • Up the back: when a fish swims into the back of the net.
  • A huntygowk: a mysterious pull of unknown origin.
  • A burst: when a fish breaks the net.
  • The scout: the first fish to be caught in the back with hopefully more to follow.
  • His majesty: a big majestic salmon.



The water

  • Pull-on/pull-off: the main flow of the current pushing towards the sand or away from the sand.
  • Running like bull skitter/coming in like a train: extremely hard running water.
  • Scouring out: when sand is eaten into by the action of the water.
  • Bursting on and off: when the water runs hard then eases off.
  • Braiding on and off: when the current swings towards you and then away.
  • Tide edge: the edge of the hard running water.
  • Comfy: water which is easily held.
  • No push: slack running water.
  • Ebbing off: water reducing in depth with the tide ebbing.
  • Slackening: the run easing off.
  • Making water/swelling: when the water flow is ebbing but the flood tide is pushing up and the water deepens.
  • Dirt/green gleg: debris in the water which sticks to the net.
  • Like glass: flat calm reflective water.
  • Flood/fresh water: a rise of water coming out of the river after rain.
  • Fire: phosphorescence which glows in the dark.
  • Racings: when the water undulates especially flowing over a shoal.



You may also want to read about Annan Haaf Net History or read some Fishy Tales or download Haaf Net Information Booklets in PDF format.



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Project funded by Dumfries and Galloway CouncilProject funded by Scottish Government and Marine Scotland