Scott Loudon | Thursday, 26 May 2016
Love them or hate them indicators are mainstream fly fishing now, from those situations that people argue they are nothing more than floats to those true ‘indicator’ situations.
I’m pretty relaxed in what constitutes fly fishing and what is fair game in my eyes. The first trip I ever did with Paul we spent one very drunken evening on a beach in Australia knocking back beer after beer arguing about what fly fishing is. Paul defines it as casting a ‘lure’ made yourself, I can’t remotely remember what I defined it as last night but I do know that now I don’t particularly care what you define using indicators as.
They’re so dam effective that the petty arguments against them are in my opinion just plain stupid. They show you first hand just how much you cannot see and worse yet can’t feel if you believe you can feel everything happening at the end of your leader.
“But it’s float fishing!”
In some cases maybe it is. Stillwater suspending a nymph below a dry or just a standard indicator whether yarn or foam is essentially float fishing but it let’s you fish a nymph incredibly realistically with the waves and ripples adding life to your emerging nymph every little bob. Or move it to the river where there is absolutely no way you can tell without an indicator the exact moment the fish has taken your nymph, unless you can see the white of the mouth in very clear water.
I say an indicator because at the end of the day we all have a permanent indicator when we’re dead drift fishing. Dry fly fishing we have the fly, subsurface without a formal indicator we use the last piece of leader we can see. It’s because of this and all the benefits that I see absolutely no reason to give indicators a hard time. It’s just extending what’s already there to make things a little easier. Just like a fluoro post on an emerger or dry.
The real thing for me is whether to set up using a fly or a true indicator. A fly is good because it offers another potential lure for the fish. It complicates setup slightly though, you either need a dropper which will eventually tangle or you need to tie the next fly off the bend of the dry. I prefer the latter and it is probably my go-to setup where I’m not targeting risers. There is still a bit of mess involved tying another fly off the bend and you need to be sure to use good hooks.
That’s where a little indicator in line can be really effective – simply to tie on, either with an easy loop of line, or a little tube (search for the NZ indicator or Ferris indicator). The great thing about these is the adaptability to change your indicator based on depth you want the nymph swimming. Or using a tiny little piece of yarn to ensure the indicator isn’t crippling your turnover or spooking fish.
Fish pimps and so on I’ve used once in my life so can’t really comment but I don’t have a problem with them. You still need some skill to catch the fish, it’s not quite chuck it out and leave it, well it could be on the Stillwater but realistically how’s that any different to fishing a static dry?
The moral of the story is indicate away! I’ll batten down the hatches for some of the backlash from the non indicating crowd this may raise for the time being.