Sport fishing is a form of recreational fishing where the primary reward is the challenge of finding and catching the fish rather than the culinary or financial value of the fish's flesh. The distincion is not completely rigid - in many cases, sport fishers will also eat their catch. The philosophies and tactics used for sport fishing, however, are usually sufficiently different from "food fishing" to make the distinction clear enough.
Sport fishing methods vary according to the area being fished, the species being targeted, the personal strategies of the angler, and the resources available, ranging from the aristocratic art of fly fishing, ostensibly invented in Great Britain, to the high-tech, incredibly expensive methods used to chase marlin and tuna. In virtually every case, however, the fishing is done with hook, rod and reel rather than with nets or other aids. In the past, sport fishers, even if they did not eat their catch, almost always killed them to bring them to shore to be weighed or for preservation as trophies. External pressure from conservationists, combined with a genuine concern about fish stocks, have caused many sport fishers to begin releasing their catch alive, sometimes after fitting them with identifying tags and recording their details so as to aid fisheries research (known as tag and release).
Sport fishing competitions give competitors (individuals if the fishing occurs from land, usually teams where conducted from boats) a specified time and area from which they are to catch fish. Scores are awarded for each fish caught, the points depending on the fish's weight and species, and then, sometimes, divided by the strength of the fishing line used (so catching fish on thinner, weaker line scores additional points). In tag and release competitions, a flat score per fish, divided by the line strength, is awarded for each species caught.
Fishing bait is any substance used to attract and catch fish, e.g. on the end of a fishing hook, or inside a fish trap. Traditionally, nightcrawlers, insects, and smaller bait fish have been used for this purpose. Fishermen have also begun using plastic bait and, more recently, electronic lures, to attract fish. Studies show that natural baits like croaker and shrimp are more recognized by the fish and are more readily accepted. Which of the various techniques a fisher may choose is dictated mainly by the target species and by its habitat. Bait can be separated into two main categories: artificial baits and natural baits.
A fishing lure is a type of artificial fishing bait which is designed to attract a fish's attention. The lure uses movement, vibration, flash and color to bait fish. Many lures are equipped with one or more hooks that are used to catch fish when they strike the lure. Some lures are placed to attract fish so a spear can be impaled into the fish or so the fish can be captured by hand. Most lures are attached to the end of a fishing line and have various styles of hooks attached to the body and are designed to elicit a strike resulting in a hookset. Many lures are commercially made but some are hand made such as fishing flies. Hand tying fly lures to match the hatch is considered a challenge by many amateur entomologists.