Viking Lars | Saturday, 17 February 2024

Fly fishing is I suppose a strange pastime, hobby or - for some - a life style. With so many different approaches, species to fish for and more or less people doing it there are plenty of areas where disagreements might come to dominate the bonfire after a day’s fishing. When is a grilse no longer a grilse, but a salmon? Some say a salmon is over 5kg. Can you use shooting heads for trout fishing? Does the fly matter? Which insect were the trout feeding on earlier today? Is nymph fishing even fly fishing? And then of course - that thing we do not mention to preserve peace. Read on at your own peril. Arbitrary opinions may occur.

Indicators or bungs as they are often called in the UK. First of all they are of course what the name implies - a gizmo to help you detect when a fish has picked up your fly, usually a nymph. They can be used over the flies, closest to the fly line that is. They can also be placed at the tip of the leader, in which cased you’re fishing “the washing line”.

An indicator can really be anything. The tip of the flyline is an indicator - it moves and stabs when a fish takes the fly. It can be a small piece of wool, a clay-like substance that floats, sticky back foam, a gizmo you can twist on the leaders, a foam-thingy with an O-ring and definitely some I’ve forgotten too. And finally of course a fly. A high floating dry like a Stimulator, deer hair flies, bushy dries that float forever with a dab of floatant. You get the picture by now.

Some people detest the use of indicators, some don’t care, some love them, some use them, others don’t. Some take the position that an indicator is perfectly acceptable as long as it doesn’t keep or suspend the fly at a set depth. Some accept that as long as the indicator is a fly the fish might take. As in a New Zealand rig for instance.

It’s a bit like the discussion whether Czech nymphing or French nymphing is fly fishing? Some find it’s cheating, some find it’s just about catching numbers, not enjoying the fishing. Many who like French or Czech nymphing feel that those who don’t have elitist opinions. Some claim that euro nymphing, as the different styles are sometimes called, gets beginners on to catching fish way too soon and that they never move on. Much to detriment of the “sport”. And there’s the next topic for a good bonfire argument - is fly fishing a sport?

I can’t get away with the above without presenting some opinions of my own to anyone who cares to know. Basically I think it’s a all fine - fish in which ever way or ways you enjoy. That’s what really matters. Whether you purposely make it easy or difficult for yourself. That said there are ways of fishing I rarely do, without in anyway having thoughts on what others do. I don’t mind indicators as such. I don’t like the ones that are more like a “float” than an “indicator”, even if there’s no functional difference what so ever. I like using the New Zealand Strike Indicator system. It’s easy, adaptable and versatile. I usually fish them quite small. I try to avoid the indicators suspending my fly as I like controlling the depth myself. Which is why I keep the NZ Strike Indicator small - to keep is just as that - an indicator. By doing that it’s also very easy to cast. I’m sure there’s some marketing that you won’t even feel it, which you will. But it’s easier to cast than most others.

I’ve never really fishing euro nymphing - it just does’t appeal to me, in now way belittling those who like. I’ve seen it done many times and I think the reality is that it’s not as easy as many critics seem to think.

So what is fly fishing? No one can tell, but most have an opinion. Some find that as long as you’re using something that can be called a fly (by what ever standard that measures against) it’s fly fishing. Some say it has to involve a cast (it doesn’t). Some say indicator fishing isn’t fly fishing. In which case French nymphing might fit the bill, because in many cases it doesn’t even involve the fly line which be a very good indicator.

For and against - pros and cons. It’s just fishing, let’s agree upon that. Now - tying and fishing a Squirmy Wormy is an entirely different and serious subject. Best kept for the bonfire.

Have a great weekend!