Indicator or Not?????

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by fsbii, May 29, 2002.

  1. fsbii New Member

    Posts: 19
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    Well Well, the question i have for ya'all is over the use of an indicator. I have been doing much reading on this topic and there seems to be a balance of those who wish to stick with the traditional use of touch and feel to hook that lunker on the nymph or streamer, and the others who opt for the supposedly more reliable indicator? Any thoughts?
    I used an indicator a couple times last year in deeper stretches of the MF of the Snoqualmie. Usually did this with a pheasant or hare's ear, bead head and normal, all to no avail.
    If your for the indicator, what are your preferred indicators??? Leader lengths? Is it tough to cast with them??

    P.S. June 1st should be an observed holiday, tight :COOK
  2. nicoldrysdale New Member

    Posts: 53
    victoria, bc, canada.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    If your new to nymphing you will definitely catch more fish with an indicator; however, it makes you lazy and, if you get dependent on it, you may never learn to sense, as Skues said, 'the wink under the water' - and that's really what nymph fishing is all about.

    If you do want to use an indicator an old Scottish ......... hmmm..... poacher, taught me to put a loop on the butt of the leader and connect the line on to it with a sheet bend knot, By letting the end of the line protrude an inch - you have a great indicator.
    The pld poacher used this technique because he could see every take and he could change leaders very quickly ( and, needless to say, this is critical when the Laird's gillie is in the vicinity).
    I often use this connection - not as an indicator, but as my normal leader line connection - doesn't look like it would hold up but it's never let me down and i've landed many Atlantic salmon with it. The only line it's not suitable for is the clear mono lines - it slips out.

    Nymph fishing will get you more fish and bigger fish than any other technique. But it's very difficult to master. I caught lots of fish using dry and wet flies when i first started fly fishing. It took me a season of fishing the nymph very day to even begin to sense the 'wink'. I'd say that it takes about 10 years longer than becoming a Zen monk to master it.
    I'd highly recommend that you forget the indicator if you want really want to possess the magic of the sixth sense. To start: get down, keep in constant touch with the line and always always keep the trigger finger ready to fire.
    Read Skues' books and Brooke's "Nymph Fishing for Larger Trout"


  3. vpons New Member

    Posts: 32
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Nothing to add. Nic said everything: forget the indicator, it is better for you.
  4. Dan Reynolds Member

    Posts: 374
    Bozeman, Mt
    Ratings: +5 / 0
    If you want to fish "Montana Style" use a dry for an indicator. Figure out what is emerging and put that on (dry version) and a nymph below as a dropper. Hint: if the water is 2 feet deep where you are running your line put the dry 4 feet above (you will have to adjust depending on the water speed) so that the dropper bounces lightly off the rocks. The "purists" will shrug...but fly fishing is flyfishing, just gently release what you catch...don't use the net unless you need to. :THUMBSUP

    If you do want to use an indicator, for rivers I would suggest the yarn puff's (they work ok when attached to the upper section of a tapered leader but will kink the line on the smaller sections). They float well and cast easy. I use the foam/toothpick ones for chironomid fishing because you can pull the tooth pick easily if your leader is longer than the rod (when you are landing the fish).

    I use an indicator about 25% of the time when fishing rivers.
  5. o mykiss Active Member

    Posts: 1,280
    Ratings: +137 / 0
    If you want to be a purist, that's cool. If I knew I was going to fish often enough to master "the wink under the water," I'd probaby try to learn how to fish without a "bobber." Unfortunately, I don't have that luxury, so I use 'em. If you don't mind the indignity of fishing with a bobber, I would recommend a small corky held in place with a broken off end of a toothpick. Way more durable than the various styles of styrofoam indicators and easy to move around on your leader.
  6. Peterp New Member

    Posts: 30
    Hamilton, Montana, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Please, the word Bobber is so crude, lets refer to it as "Le Bobbaire", That way you will catch more fish. :WINK
  7. hikepat Patrick

    Posts: 1,804
    Des Moines, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +12 / 0
    how does the toothpick foam system get hooked up? I have used the foam by itself and have heard of toothpicks being used with but I am unsure of the complete working for. I would like to understand the use of a toothpick on the indicator to use when using Chironimids which I am just learning to use this summer. All the writting I have ever seen the talks about using toothpicks to make it easy to move the indicator up and down seem to think I already know the use of. Any advice on this would be helpful. :DUNNO
  8. circlespey Member

    Posts: 237
    Seattle, WA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Absolutely agree here, with one caveat. I'm glad to hear that some people have time to learn Zen nymph fishing, but I just like catching fish, and even most experienced nymph fishermen will tell you stories about the first time they tried indicators and how many more strikes they detected.

    One important thing is to tailor the indicator to the water. I like corkies or foam on a heavy and choppy water, like a Yak riffle. You're probably fishing heavy weight then anyway, so the indicator does act more like a bobber and holds the line up.

    On the other hand, it's important to really cut down on the buoyancy of the indicator on calm water. A very light yarn indicator that has almost neutral (but not quite) buoyancy will help your flies bounce along the bottom lightly and will be SO much more sensitive to movement than a corky. I had the good luck to fish in New Zealand last year and the guides there would tie on a tiny wisp of yarn at the top of 10-12 feet of straight tippet (no leader). The flies sank better that way and the yarn was just enough to stay afloat, but you could clearly see the fly movement much more easily.

    I carry 2-3 types of removable indicators and change them and the type of line underneath depending on the type of water being fished. When I started doing this instead of only fishing one indicator type I started noticing a lot more strikes.

    One last thing; I actually believe that COLOR matters; I use a white or olive indicator when possible rather than flourescent. A white indicator tends to look like just another bubble on the water to the fish, imho.
  9. Rob Blomquist Formerly Tight Loops

    Posts: 1,343
    Mountlake Terrace, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    You can buy indicators that use a peg to hold them on the line. I use these kind more than any other, but I like chironomid fishing in lakes.

    The indicators I use are fluorescent gree, orange and red, I really don't think the color makes much difference, but I find the bright colors easier to see on a lake.

    When one has 15 feet of leader and tippet out under an indicator, you can't properly retrieve the fish without getting rid of the indicatior. Pegged indicators are easy to get out of the way. You can also use a corkie with a toothpick as an indicator, but I prefer the little slotted foam ones from Big 5 or Garts.

    The other trick with chiros at depth is to get a spool of non-flourescent 4, 6 or 8 pound line and use that for your 10-20 foot leaders. 18 inches of tippet should be tied to that. It doesn't turn over all that well, but that's unnecessary in chironomid fishing, but it sure saves on money.

  10. chibby New Member

    Posts: 7
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    I dont use them in streams at all. And yes, they add another dimension of difficulty to casting..mainly when theres wind.
    Of course I use the foam ones which are light and catch in the wind
  11. chibby New Member

    Posts: 7
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    forgot toadd: I usally start with an indicator in lakes
    when fishing midges,nymphs etc., It is easy and lets me get into the swing of things while not catching alot of weeds. If the fishing is really hot, fast & furious....then I preferr to go without the indicator. The indicator absolutely reminds me of bait fishing. though
    It takes all the talent out of probing and adds the need for talent for casting in the wind. It is like worm dunking. It bothers me only a little though from a purity standpoint...feel just a little guil;t
  12. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,112
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,396 / 0
    I might be old---but I'm good.

    I never have used an indicator of any kind. I did just buy that new line put out by Cortland that 555. It is supposed to float high in the water. Well I am going to try it out on Monday on any skinny water that I can find that is in any way fishable. I would like to try it out on any lake,but lake fishing is not my strong point. Come to think of it neither are rivers but I prefer to fish rivers. Jim
  13. fishnfella New Member

    Posts: 148
    Grand Coulee, Washington, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Fish till ya drop.
    Then suck it up
    and fish the evening hatch.

    To "Indicator" or not to "Indicator" is not the question. The question is how does the nymph you are trying to imitate emerge. The chironomid pupa in still waters comes out of the mud and "Stages" in a vertical position near bottom for some time as it gains carbonation. Then it wiggles vertically to the surface in such a slow fashon that any attempt to imitatate it by letting a line sink and stripping it back up is unrealistically too fast and not vertical enuff. The proper and most effective way to Chironomid pupa or (larva fish) is with the indicator.

    I believe the Callabaetis and other small mayfly nymphs emerge in a similar fashon to chironomids and I usually fish them under an indicator too with good success,although stripping them can work too at times.

    Now if the hatch your trying to fish is Damsels,Dragons,Waterboatmen,Scuds,or the like the manner of hatching is entirely different and indicators are generally contraproductive.

    In streams I can see little reason to use them, but some say they help eliminate that troublesome "Belly" problem.

    For those who believe somehow NOT using them sets them apart as better
    "more acutely aware" flyfishers I can only say Bull! Bobber fishing can be just as challanging as any other method.
  14. skyriver Member

    Posts: 58
    Covington, Washington.
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    To add to fishnfella's logic along with my opinion since that's what this one's about.... The only stillwater nymphing that needs an indicator in my opinion is chronomid fishing. And yes, it's bobber fishing. I know it's still fishing with a fly rod and all, but considering you don't (or can't with an indicator and 20' of mono) cast much of a line, at least not gracefully (some of the best chrono guys are the worst casters) I consider it very close to bobber fishing.... which can be fun. Worms on a bobber is more fun to me than sitting in a 40 degree lake staring at a corky.
    In moving water it depends on personal preference and the water. If you have nice deep slots with off colored water (so the fish can't see you) then you can do the zen thing and "feel" the hits. If, however, you are on a river like the Yak or Madison or some other clear, flat river where the fish may be 30-50 feet away you can do all the feeling you want and you will not catch him. An indicator will allow you to cast that 30-50 feet and then mend so that you present the nymph right on the money. This is especially true if you cannot safely wade close enough to "zen" it. Oh and one other thing.... Don't fish nymphs straight upstream with or without an indicator. The fish tend to notice your flyline pretty easily.

    Catch & Release,
  15. nicoldrysdale New Member

    Posts: 53
    victoria, bc, canada.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    It's common practice to flyfish with chironomids without an indicator.

    If, as has been asserted, it's not possible to immitate the emmerging chironomids accurately without an indicator, then why are so many anglers doing so successfully without one?
    An angler who catches a fish without a indicator or, if you prefer,'Bobiere', has to be aware that a fish has taken the nymph. Fish can take a nymph many times and spit it out each time without the angler knowing. To be successful with the nymph without using an indicator it's neccessry to learn how to sense the extremely subtle takes of the fish and this is a very difficult skill to acquire. It is significantly more difficult to do than watching the movement of a bobber.
    The indicator was introduced for those who are either unable to acquire this skill or for those who do not wish to take the time necessary to acquire it.

    There are articles in this Forum about bobbers and puttting scents on flies. Where does it stop and where is the line between fly fishing and other forms of fishing? There's absolutely no question that an indicator will catch more fish - it is a more effective method. But we do not fly fish because it's the most effective method of getting fish.
    If it's 'effectiveness' that is the ultimate criteria for fishing then we would not have evolved beyond the worm, nets or explosives. If you want a chinook it's a lot easier to get one with a flasher and a herring plug; and, if this is so, then why does a fly fisherman persist with flies to catch a one. He does so, not because it's 'better' or more effective, but because, for him, it's more aesthetic and more difficult to do. And those who nymph fish without an indicator do so because, for them, it's a more aesthetic and more challenging way of catching fish.

  16. chironocast New Member

    Posts: 28
    Redmond, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Heres the deal: Regarding the relative use of an indiator for chironomid fishing vs. aquiring the skill for detecting subtle strikes without the indicator. POPPYCOCK!!! The absolute only reason I use an indicator with chironomid is to keep it off the bottom and to buy lots of time with a correct presentation. It is sooo easy to detect the subtle takes without an indicator. All you have to do id keep your eyes glued to either your floating line (the way I always fish chironos) or your leader. If you can see (and pay attention) you can see the subtle or not so subtle hits. Clearly, (at least for me) the indicator is misnamed as strike indicator. Rather, it should be called depth indicator. This really is funny to me that anyone thinks its a great mystery or skill to be able to detect hitd without an indicator as long as you stay focused on your line. Heres my great secret...I always keep a slightly fluffed line That is to say a little slack in both the fly-line and the leader. That makes it much easier to detect the hits (as the line unfurls or shimmies when bumped) and gives the fish enough slack as to not detect the pull of the line (and you) until its too late.
  17. fishnfella New Member

    Posts: 148
    Grand Coulee, Washington, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Fish till ya drop.
    Then suck it up
    and fish the evening hatch.

    Success is a relative term as you know. It is possible to Chironomid without the indicator and in fact in Canada it is the commonest way. This is no doubt a hangover from their archaic regulations which prohibit use of indicators on fly only waters.

    Stuffy purists NEED a reason to assume their skills are superior and should be the correct and only method of "Flyfishing". Flyfishing my friends is quite simply angling with the artificial fly as a lure and by definition excludes scents on the fly, but not the use of indicators. For years prior to common useage of cork or yarn indicators flyfishermen were using a small section of flourescent paint on the end of their dry line as an indicator.Prior to that in jolly ole England (the home of flyfishing) the anglers were using a team of flys,the top bushy dry fly acting primairily as an indicator.
    I hope you are not suggesting that these guys are not TRUE flyfishermen?

    Back to my use of the term "Proper" I am referring to the method most
    similar to the real emergence of the insect pupa and thus the most successful.I have caught many fish using damsel nymphs drug in every direction in various depths,but the "proper" and most effective method is shallow and toward the shore. For those of you that choose to catch less fish, in order that they can practice an inferior method and feel superior in some way to other flyfishermen, let them count down and strip back their pupa and use their "extrasensitive" powers of perception to "detect" the few strikes they will get while I'm having fun C&Ring a dozen or so fish.
  18. nicoldrysdale New Member

    Posts: 53
    victoria, bc, canada.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    hey Fishnfella,

    I'm afraid your use of the word 'proper' is not proper.
    And your insistence that your chironomid technique is superior to other methods of fishing the chironomid smacks of 'stuffy purist' superiority and entomological elitism! :WINK
  19. fishnfella New Member

    Posts: 148
    Grand Coulee, Washington, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Fish till ya drop.
    Then suck it up
    and fish the evening hatch.

    OOOOOOOh, looks like I ruffled some Nic0l feathers. Maybe I shouldn't have used the term stuffy?? Or was it elitism that rankled feathers??

    Funny though, in a previous post you admit that using an indicator with chironomid pupa will catch more fish, then in this post you
    claim I'm the eliteist for restating the same observation, (which only a fool or the uninitiated would dispute.)

    I'm taking this all as a personal affront akin to a slap in the face with a wet sun glove.
    I hereby challange you to a fishoff next fall at Nunnally Lake or any other good chironomid lake of your choice, when the second generation hatches start. You using your extrasensitive and finely honed, elitist powers of perception to detect,hook,and land those subtile takes on the stripped pupa while I indicator fish.
    We'll see once in for all whose method is stuffy elitism and whose method works best. KAYYYYYY? Har,har,har this is gonna be soooo easy!
  20. nicoldrysdale New Member

    Posts: 53
    victoria, bc, canada.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    hey Fishnfella,

    Sorry for not responding to you earlier but I've just returned from fly fishing sockeye in Stamp rapids....

    We both agree that an indicator will catch more fish.
    However, you believe that it's a better way of fishing because it's the 'proper' way to fish and, as such, it catches more fish. And because of the belief that it's categorically a 'better' way to fish you're asserting that it's more superior to other methods and this is, I'm afraid, elitist.

    I believe that catching a fish without an indicator is simply a more difficult technique than catching a fish with one. And since 'difficulty' is not synonymous with 'better' it should not be considered and is not elitist.
    My view on fishing with or without an indicator is, as with all forms of fishing - to each his own. I've enough trouble rationalizing my own decisions on anything without presuming it for others.
    By the way, nymph fishing in a Halfordian world was considered equivalent to using dynamite so it's a bit humourous that you consider any kind of nymph fishing as elitist.

    The challenge:
    Because I don't dispute that using an indicator catches more fish (although this may not be true of catching huge browns in fast water), it would be less than prudent of me to take you on with chironomids on Nunnally Lake; my Scottish temperament is very eager to do so but, Fishnfella, it would contradict my primary reason for fishing. You see, I fish to get away from the competitiveness I have with others.
    I discovered a while ago that, for me, there really wasn't that much true satisfaction for me in beating the other guy at anything let alone fishing. And it was through fishing I realized this. So, I must decline the challenge but I do however look forward to fishing 'with' you sometime rather than 'against' you.

    Now. Fishnfella, I hope you don't think my reason for avoiding this challenge is a euphamism for not wanting to waste my time in a philosophical stuper half asleep on a tube while waiting for a take when I could be nymph fishing on the edge with a #4 stonefly for 16lb. steelhead in wild west coast rapids where one wrong wading step means being swept into oblivion ...... naw... Fishnfella.....that would be elitist wouldn't it.... and you know me better than that.:WINK