When most fly fishers hear the term “strike indicator,” they immediately think of a bobber. And while it’s true that strike indicators do some of the same things as bobbers, they also do things differently.
From assisting in depth control to identifying subtle takes deep beneath the surface, strike indicators play an important role in fly fishing. But how do you choose the right one?
What is a strike indicator?
A strike indicator is a fly fishing tool that floats and attaches to your line or leader (the transparent filament that connects your flies to your weighted fly line). Its purpose is to tell you when a fish grabs your fly, allowing you to either set the hook or re-cast.
There are many different types of strike indicators on the market, and some are more effective than others for certain conditions. It’s important to have a variety of strike indicators in your gear bag so that you can tailor your rigs to suit the conditions you are fishing.
Indicators can be made from a variety of materials, including plastic, cork, foam, putty, and yarn. They are usually smaller and lighter than bobbers, and they can be made in a wide range of colors and sizes.
Strike indicators are great for nymphing because they allow you to keep your flies below the surface of water, entice fish to strike. They also help to control the depth of your flies, which can be helpful when you’re nymphing in rough or muddy water.
If you’re new to nymphing, it is important to understand how strike indicators work and how they affect your fishing. In this video, Ian and Charity Rutter of R&R Fly Fishing give us some pointers on how to use strike indicators with nymphs in small mountain streams.
They recommend using high stick nymphing with a strike indicator in fast pocket water, as well as keeping your indicator ahead of your fly to improve your strike detection. This technique allows you to achieve drag free drifts, which is an important part of catching trout on subsurface flies.
Another way to approach nymphing is with dry dropper rigs. This rig, which uses a dry fly as an indicator, is great for fishing in clear, shallow water and can be very productive when targeting trout on the bottom of the river.
Strike indicators can be a great addition to a dry dropper rig, but they may not work as effectively in deep or muddy water. It’s also important to make sure that your strike indicator is the right size for your water condition. The right size can make a huge difference in how you fish your flies and the accuracy of your rigging.
Why use a strike indicator?
As the name implies, strike indicators are devices that allow anglers to detect when a fish takes their fly. They do this by attaching to the leader, which connects the flies to the weighted fly line. The indicator will float in the water as the flies drift, and when it hits bottom, it provides visual evidence that a fish has taken the fly.
Several types of strike indicators are available on the market, and each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the most important thing to keep in mind when choosing an indicator is that it should be lightweight and sensitive.
If you are looking for a highly sensitive and subtle strike indicator, consider choosing one made of yarn or a foam material that is treated with floatant. These options are especially popular for anglers fishing in clear water, as they provide excellent visibility and sensitivity to the flies’ actions.
Strike indicator stickers are another option that comes in a variety of shapes and designs. These can range from oval-shaped stickers that you pinch around the line to larger football-shaped constructions that are held onto the leader with rubber bands. These stickers are a great choice for beginners, as they are easy to use and have minimal issues with tangles or kinking of the leader.
Closed-cell foam strike indicators are also popular and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. These options are also available in various colors, so you can choose the right one for the area and conditions that you are fishing.
Putty strike indicators are a newer option on the market that is extremely versatile. These indicators mold into the shape that you want and then wrap around your leader, and they allow you to create any size and shape that you need.
This type of strike indicator is perfect for those anglers who want complete control over the size and shape of their indicator, but they do have some disadvantages. They are not as durable as other options, and they can leave residue on the leader if they tangle or get stuck.
Where to use a strike indicator
A strike indicator is a floating piece of material that can be attached to your fly line and used to indicate when a fish takes your fly. This is an effective and easy way to increase your catch rate while fly fishing.
Strike indicators come in many different shapes and sizes and are designed to be easy to attach, float, and retrieve. They also come in different colors, which will help you identify when a fish strikes your fly.
Indicators are a great way to control the depth of your fly and can be useful in many different situations, especially when fishing a dry fly. The right strike indicator will let you present your nymph or lure at the correct depth for fish that are feeding.
Another common use for strike indicators is to rig them to the leader so that you can set the depth of your flies. This is a good strategy for a number of different situations, including stillwaters and rivers.
These rigs are a great way to keep your nymphs just below the water’s surface, where trout are most likely to be feeding. However, there are several disadvantages to these rigs, including a tendency to tangle and a lack of visibility in deeper water.
One of the biggest downsides to strike indicators is that they can fray over time, particularly if you don’t put a rubber band around them. This will eventually clog the loop and make them unusable. To combat this, a simple piece of surgical glove rubber can be placed in the loop to prevent it from fraying.
When choosing a strike indicator, it is important to consider the type of water you are fishing and how much weight and leader length you will be using. This will affect the size and shape of the strike indicator that you should use.
Smaller indicators are better for small pieces of water where you won’t be using much weight or long leaders. Larger indicators are easier to cast and can be more adjustable, but are often heavier and less floatable. This can be an issue for anglers who are fishing larger pieces of water where they will need to add a lot of weight to their leader to get the indicator to float.
Best practices for rigging a strike indicator
The strike indicator is a crucial part of any fly fishing outfit. They come in many different shapes and sizes, and they can be used to help control the depth of your flies as well as identify subtle takes.
While they can be a great addition to any fly fishing rig, it’s important to know how to properly rig them for the best results. By following a few simple guidelines, you can use your strike indicator to its full potential while increasing your angling success.
Always Place Your Indicator on the Butt Section of Your Leader
The main reason to position your strike indicator on the butt section of your leader is to ensure that your flies drift at the exact depth you want them to. As a general rule, you want the distance between your strike indicator and the bottom fly to be about one and a half times as deep as the water you’re fishing.
Another mistake many anglers make is placing their indicator too far up the leader. This can cause your nymph to drift off course and can also delay transmission of your take to the indicator.
To avoid this problem, be sure to snip off extra leader when preparing your rig for the water you’re fishing. Alternatively, you can also add a non-slip mono loop to the end of your leader before tying your strike indicator.
If you want to fish a smaller, lighter nymph through faster and broken water, consider using a wool indicator instead of a strike indicator. These types of indicators cut through the water more easily and have minimal resistance, which is great when fighting big, heavy nymphs.
However, these kinds of indicators can be tricky to use when fishing bigger flies. They sink quickly, so they can be difficult to detect in fast-moving water and in cases where the water is too choppy.
If you’re unsure of how to rig your strike indicator, try to experiment with different techniques until you find one that works best for you. You may be surprised by how much your angling success improves with this simple change.