Why I Finally Started Using Strike Indicators

News & Tips: Why I Finally Started Using Strike Indicators...

When high water, combined with flowing ice, prevented me from running the Allegheny River for smallmouht bass, I decided to do what any angler would do: find other fishing options.

Foam strike indicatorFoam strike indicator

My state of Pennsylvania plays host to an abundance of trout streams, many of which support wild trout populations. This past weekend I visited one of them — a limestone spring-fed stream that features wild brown trout, and is also stocked during the spring with a sprinkling of rainbows.

The water was a bit high and off-colored, typically good conditions for a streamer like a wooly bugger. But after an hour of fruitless casting in a pool I felt confident should hold trout, it was a time for a change in tactics. I re-rigged, this time with a pheasant tail nymph, to which I tied to its bend another foot of 3X tippet as a dropper.  I put a small olive-green scud on the dropper. A tiny split shot was added a few inches above the nymph. About 4 feet up the leader I fastened a foam, teardrop-shaped strike indicator.

For a long time I was a holdout regarding the use of a strike indicator, not willing to use a "bobber" while fly fishing. But I must say, when I finally gave in, my catch rates, and enjoyment, increased significantly.

I've experimented with several strike indicator designs over the past three years, being particularly fond of small foam indicators that use a slender piece of surgical tubing to hold them in place. This year I've also experimented with the Kiwi Strike Indicator, which I also like, particularly when fishing over low clear water where the splashdown of a bulkier indicator (the Kiwi uses yarn) is likely to spook fish.

Some Tips

Here are a couple tips concerning strike indicator use: be willing to adjust the indicator's position so the fly occasionally ticks bottom. Make a sweeping hookset when the "bobber" indicates a possible bite but sweep with the rod more parallel to the streams surface than straight up. This will reduce the times you launch your flies into the tree limbs behind you if you miss a fish. And use an indicator large enough to float your rigging without being dragged under the surface. This is particularly important as you add flies and/or weight to the rig.