Viking Lars | Saturday, 11 April 2020

Strike indicators or sight indicators (or just indicators) are frowned upon by some, embraced by others. The “purists” claim that Skues and Sawyer would be turning in their graves, saw they the modern developments of nymph fishing. I’m not so sure - they were both innovators and went against many accepted ideals in their own time. I’m somewhere in between myself. There’s no doubt that I’d rather fish with out one than with one, but that doesn’t change the fact that they have a place in my kit and certainly in modern fly fishing. There are many different types of indicators and even more brands and I’ve tried some of them, and I’ll go over them below and point out some advantages and disadvantages.

Indicators can be divided into many different groups based on different parameters, but when I choose an indicator, there are first two parameters to choose between: Does it have to float/carry the fly (often in this case a very heavy one) or do I need it primarily for detecting a take, in which case it only needs to float itself, so to speak. I broke out my arsenal of indicators and to a snapshot, which is today’s PoD.

Going from left to right, they’re sorted in two groups - “carriers” and “sighters”, with the “carriers” being the two on the far right.

To the left, Neon Wax, which is a relatively new product as far as I know (I might very well be wrong - I only discovered in last year). This is sighting help only, but is very convenient. As you can see, it’s basically a neon coloured (and there are more colours than these) “lip stick” that you can colour a short section of your leader with, making it very easy to detect subtle takes, especially on shorter casts. It doesn’t stick to the leader forever and needs re-application every som often (heat seems to be its prime enemy), but that’s very easy and fast to do, so not really a problem. Different colours can be more or less visible under different conditions and applying two different colours at once can be really helpful.

Next to that there’s a roll of Scientific Anglers Sighter Tippet, which is a multi-coloured monofilament (0X in this case). You can use it in two ways. A single, straight piece at an appropriate place in your leaders (loop-to-looped together). That works well in flat water. But where it really comes into its own is when using it as a “Curly Q” or a Slinky Indicator. I forst saw these in George Daniel’s excellent book, Dynamic Nymphing. They are quite simply excellent. They don’t suspend heavy nymphs at all, but they are extremely sensitive to even the most subtle takes and they very easy to cast, even quite far - and they’re *very* visible even a long distances. Add to that that they land very, very softly and you have the ideal indicator, at least if you don’t need to suspend a heavy nymph under it. I usually make a bunch at a time in different sizes. They’re easy to make, it takes a little time, but a few will easily last you a season. Simon Gawesworth shows how it’s done here (sorry I don’t have a finished Slinky in the picture - I couldn’t find any).

In the middle is the New Zealand Strike Indicator, which is also a good and quite versatile system. It’s a bit fiddly to put on your leader, but it’s worth the effort since once it’s on, it’s very easy to change depth. And speaking of depth, the NZ Strike Indicator doesn’t suspend heavy nymphs, but since since you also decide yourself how big an indicator you want - and the supplied wool is impregnated, you have some wiggle room. It’s a simple system - with a open-eye needle to pull your leader through a slim, short piece of silicone tubing and form an eye. Stick the wool into the eye and snug it up to (or slightly into) the silicone tubing and cut to size. One draw back is that it will slip and slide if you don’t get it seated correctly. Mine came with wool in three different colours. Depending on size of course, it’s casts easily.

Next to that is Loon’s StrikeOut yarn, which I sometimes use in the NZ Strike Indicator System, because I don’t know what they use to impregnate the wool with, but it floats really well and never seems to get waterlogged.

Then there’s an old roll of Tiemco sticky back thin foam, which is good too. You simply tear off a small piece, peel off the backing and roll it onto your leader at the desired point. It’s easy and fast to apply and you can suspend fairly heavy nymphs under it - the more you roll on, the heavier a nymph it’ll carry, obviously. It has a few major disadvantages - you can’t really move it once it’s on, and it’s one-time-use only.  Oh, and it’s sometimes a pain to get off as well. Small pieces on the leader you hardly feel when casting - bigger is another matter of course.

And finally, to the far right, are three different types of very effective suspenders. These are for fishing the really heavy stuff and when it’s difficult to remain in contact with the fly/flies. These float and a carry heavy loads, they’re very easy to apply to the leader and easy to move up and down. They are easy to see (and come in different colours). They don’t cast too easily, but with a really heavy nymph on (or two) that really doesn’t make much difference.

Trout/grayling season is on, and nymph fishing is an important skill, so it’s important to keep the arsenal of flies and paraphernalia up-to-date.

Have a great weekend!