Nomenclature Nag: A Big Beautiful Trout Is NOT A Toad, Slab, or Pig/Hog

July 2020

One of the real satisfactions and enjoyment I get from my Facebook fishing groups is reading posts from young 20- and 30-something anglers like my son as they hone their fly fishing skills while catching (and releasing) some beautiful muscular trout here in Colorado. But I have to admit to an urge to scream and gnash my teeth when these young bloods refer to their trophies as Toads, Slabs, and Pigs/Hogs. I think some of this jargon may have been imported from booyah southern bass fishermen, but whatever the case it seems sacrilegious to use four words in the English language that conjure up ugliness to describe something so rare and stunning or to introduce those terms into the gentle and civilized sport of fly fishing! So in the spirit of imparting some tips on nomenclature from an irascible septuagenarian who has been chasing trout for over 50 years, I offer the following guidance on acceptable terminology for describing your trophy.

First, a short primer on what is NOT allowed:

TOAD—this is what a toad looks like:

SLAB—this is what a slab looks like:

PIG/HOG—this is what a pig/hog looks like:

Now that those pejorative descriptive terms have been banished from your youthful vocabularies, here are some suggestions for more appropriate adjectives to describe your outsized catch:  Monster, Huge, Gigantic, Gargantuan, Colossal, Titanic, Whopper.   And for those of you who want to project a more erudite, cultured aura, please consider Leviathan or Brobdingnagian. 

Thank you, dudes, for considering this rant from an increasingly curmudgeonly old codger. Please resume fishing at your earliest opportunity.

16 thoughts on “Nomenclature Nag: A Big Beautiful Trout Is NOT A Toad, Slab, or Pig/Hog

  1. Well said. I am speechless when I hear a comment, from what appears to be a mature, intelligent person, such as: “That’s dope”! Question: Can someone who is NOT a dope say “that’s dope”? Not sure whether at my advanced age I am experiencing grumpiness or wisdom! 🙂


    1. I politely disagree. There is no better way to describe the oversized brown trout my buddy Craig pulled out of the Nantahala last week than to say “Great hog brown Craig!” If I referred to his hog as a Leviathan or Brobdingnagian I fear I would never be invited back to trout camp.

      We can discuss the term Toad another day.

      JS in NC


      1. Thank you for your civil and polite comment, Jason. I fully understand you southern angling gentleman lean towards descriptive terms for your trout such as hawgs, slabs, and toads as your bass fishing friends also do for their quarry along with voicing the occasional “booyah” to announce their hookups. We western fly anglers understand your enthusiasm, but would invite and welcome you to join our trout camps and sample some pure Rocky Mountain waters and wild trout while exploring a more erudite nomenclature in keeping with Theodore Gordon and others of our sport’s long and glorious history. In the meantime get some of those big toads. With best personal regards. Chris in CO


  2. When I started my journey into fly fishing a few years ago I would go into my local fly shop and poke around not really knowing what I was looking at. And still a little ashamed to ask any questions other than “what’s hot at what river”. I would use my slow perusing to listen in to conversations around the shop and would leave perplexed on occasion. I really thought people were targeting toads and the like. Figuring it’s some new aspect of the sport I had to now understand.


  3. Didn’t catch any toads, slabs or hot/pigs but did well in the La Garita Wilderness last week. Hurry if you’re going to fish this are this summer as we’re running out of water as in most of the Colorado waters.


    1. Haha. Great you did well. Where’d you fish? Saguache Creek or Cochetopa? Worrisome re water levels for sure. I’m heading out next week to the La Garita before Chavez and smaller creeks get too low!


  4. Hey Chris , I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your articles.I took a look at some of the Rio Grande Cutthroat pictures while reading your articles on Treasure creek and Lake fork.I fished both creeks last week and had outstanding day’s on both! Prompted by you stating the largest fish in Treasure were up through the one canyon below the bridge was too tempting and I had some nice large beauties annihilate my Stimulator.Simply put…my jaw dropped at the brilliant colorations of those trout !


    1. Thx for the kind words. Good to hear you did well on Treasure and Lake Fork. Hope you left a few for me. Headed down there next month. How were the water levels?


      1. Welcome .The water levels in my opinion were perfect at both locals.It was nice and warm the day’s I fished and wet wading was very comfortable.I stayed at Skyline lodge and found it to be a great place to take advantage of them.At first I thought…an airstream trailer ? But, it was very comfortable and suited me just fine.Also, I rented a guide from Conejos River Anglers for a day on the Conejos as well and hooked up on some real beauties.One being a 23″ Rainbow that fought like the devil.A couple other 20″ Browns came up as well with the fish going crazy on the Gray Drakes.My name is Greg Smith and I live mainly in Ohio but have a second home in Canon City.


  5. Well, sir, you’re wrong. And in fact, you sound just like an angry old man who’s getting out-fished by some younger, southern angler. Just because us southerners use different words to describe the fish we catch, doesn’t mean we disrespect the fish in any way. In fact, it’s a complement to the trout being called a “pig,” “toad,” or “slab.” I mean, imagine if someone looked at you and said, “damn, he’s a beast.” That wouldn’t literally mean you’re a beast, it means you’re a fine, strong specimen of a human being (although I doubt you’d ever get that complement based on your picture). So don’t disrespect southern people, especially us “booyah southern bass fisherman” as you call us. Bring your skinny ass down to South Carolina and try to catch some bull redfish on the fly and then we’ll see who’s yelling “booyah,” buddy!


    1. Will—Don’t get your panties all in an uproar. The post was meant to be tongue in cheek with just a little tweaking of you youngsters. I spend six months of the year chasing big bass and redfish in Florida with forays into Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi etc to fish with my elderly southern buddies. Look me up if you’re ever down Everglades City way and we’ll chase some snook while we work on your vocabulary. In the meantime have fun on the water. Chris


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