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Old 04-04-2011, 07:13 AM
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Default Indicator Position

I have been fooling around with indicator position this spring trying to gauge the optimum position. I know the standard is 1 1 /2 times the depth but that is pretty hard to follow when on any one drift may go from 12" to 36". What's your thoughts on this. In the past I have never used an indicator but after commiting to it this year I have to say my catch rate has gone up.
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Old 04-04-2011, 07:38 AM
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Default Re: Indicator Position

Tracker,
Experiment and see what happens with the different ways you rig up...
Dan
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Old 04-04-2011, 08:32 AM
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Default Re: Indicator Position

In most applications I have found deeper is better. 1.5 times is a general rule. SOmetimes if the run varies a lot you can shorten your indicator and increase the weight. That way your flies get down quickly but you can keep them somewhat out of the bottom. This especially is effective in faster water where a long leader length gives you a poor drift.
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Old 04-04-2011, 11:13 AM
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Default Re: Indicator Position

Hi Tracker12,

I usually put my indicator 6 to 14 inches in front of the leader to line connection. I have never been comfortable with using the indicator as a bobber and suspend the flies from the indicator. I adjust the fly depth using split shot and weighted or unweighted flies.

You can also do some adjusting with the leader. You can use leader sink on the forward portion and floatant on the rear portion of the leader. You can use mono or fluro leaders, or parts of leaders, for different sink rates. There are so many different ways to rig I seldom move my indicator down the leader.

My technique came about because I started using yarn as an indicator and it was fasten with a dropper knot pulled tight. The knot crimped the leader pretty bad so I got into the habit of finding other methods of controlling depth. Even now that I am using a Thingamabobber I tend to leave it in one place. Its hard for old dogs to learn new tricks. Now I look at the water and may put the Thingamabobber lower on the leader but I don't fool with it much.

Frank
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Old 04-04-2011, 12:03 PM
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Default Re: Indicator Position

I fish indicators quite a bit. I know there are some here who run the gamut from adamantly opposed to using indicators (bobbers in their words ) to only using indicators. My feelings about it are, do what fits you and your style best. If you're catching more fish with indicators, great, if you prefer tight-line nymphing and 'feeling' the take, also great. I for one like to catch fish and feel that presentation and correct fly selection make the biggest difference. Because of my old eyes, nymphing under an indicator is my preferred method since I can still have the visual pleasure of observing the take.

Now, as for indicator attachment to your leader - the where's and why's - should always be determined by the depth and speed of the water you are fishing. 1 1/2 times the depth works good for moderate flows of water 12-inches to 3 or 4 feet deep. 2 to even 2 1/2 times the water depth may be more appropriate for deeper runs along with swifter flows. The whole point is to get a good drag-free drift through whatever type of water you're fishing at the time and this will require some experimentation with where you place your strike indicator on the leader.

I usually start with what I feel is a bit long for the drift and then I work my way back down the leader until I get drifts that allow the flies to stroll along the bottom where normally the fish are holding. This method requires that you use a strike indicator that you can adjust as often as you need to (such as a Thingamabobber, etc). A lot also depends on how much weight or which weighted flies you may be using as this also affects the drift. The preferred result is that your offerings 'bump' a bit across the stream bottom. If you hang up on rocks or weeds occasionally then you've probably got it right. If you hang up every cast, you probably have too much weight or the indicator is too high on the leader, or, a combination of the two. If you're not hanging up at all, perhaps not enough weight or your indicator is too low on the leader - or, a combination of both. Experiment on the water you are fishing until it feels right.

Next problem is fly selection; pay close attention to what's going on when you get to the water you'll be fishing. Are fish rising? What type of rises? No rises, what time of year is it and what do the hatch charts tell you are the prevalent aquatic insects active for that time of year? Start nymphing with searching patterns such as a standard Pheasant-tail nymph or a Shop Vac nymph. Fishing a tailwater? Try a San Juan worm in different colors.

Now that you've got the drift right, the right flies, pay attention to your indicator at all times, don't become distracted, keep an eye on it. Any hesitation, pause, movement or some such indicates that something is happening down below and demands your attention - set the hook! Often it will be a rock or a weed, but, just as often, it will be a fish and your efforts will be rewarded.

Last of all, know that what you do for setup - depth, weight, fly selection will usually change and be different for every water you fish. It may even change for where you are fishing. I have a favorite stretch of the lower Henry's Fork that I fish quite often. I know how to set up for the regular stretches I fish, but, occasionally I will turn around and fish the water behind me, nearer the shore and it is much shallower, slower flowing and requires an entirely different setup than what I was fishing towards the middle of the river. This requires I change the setup.

I also fish a lot of slow-water spring creeks where the current is almost imperceptible and there my tactics and setup are much different than for regular river nymphing. The fish are big and spooky. The water is gin-clear and the fish react to the shadow of a bird flying overhead. I switch from using any type of commercially available strike indicator to using a special type emerger fly as my indicator - a Parasol Emerger fly. To this I'll affix a length of leader to my first trailing nymph, usually a bead-head mayfly nymph, trailed by another fly such as a scud or other some such fly representing the prevalent insects in the spring. The length of the leader from my indicator fly to the first nymph is only 1x the depth, meaning I don't allow for any leader exceptions due to flow or depth. It works.

Also, don't discount whenever you are fishing water from 12-inches to 3-feet in depth to use a bushy dry fly as your indicator trailed by a nymph matching the prevalent insect in the water that day - a typical Hopper/Dropper configuration.

A lot of options for you, but don't think that you have to be relegated to what has been written about 1 1/2x or 2x the depth of the water as this formula is only a guideline and not a requirement. Experiment on the particular water you are fishing that day and find what fits the circumstances you are experiencing. Most of all don't over think it. Take notes for use the next time you hit that water and remind yourself of what worked as well as what didn't work. Experience will be your best teacher with experimentation the thing that will lead you to finding the best solutions.

Problem is, the next time you go there whatever worked the first time may not work at all and you have to start back at square one again But, that's all part of the fun of 'cracking the code' and the mystery and fun of flyfishing.

Most of all, have fun!

Tight lines,

Kelly.
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Old 04-04-2011, 12:36 PM
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Default Re: Indicator Position

In my experience, what I like to do on any given water is to find bottom and then adjust the indicator so that the presentation comes in contact with bottom every so often. If you get hung-up all the time you; 1/ have too much weight under your indicator or 2/ your lead under the indicator is too long. I find myself constantly making adjustments to weight and leader length as the need arises so that my fly is in that 6" to 12" cushion from bottom. That being said, I will also run a lead under a yarn indicator that is several inches to a few feet if the fish are feeding on emergers in that zone. Experimentation is key depending on what zone the fish are feeding at.

TFO
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Old 04-04-2011, 08:06 PM
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Default Re: Indicator Position

KG
Great post and a lot of great info. Right now I have been using the thingambobber and like the sensativity of them. I usually use the smallest and really have to keep an eye on them or I loos them in the ebubble line. I have been experimenting with different techniques I like you mentioned except using a dry on top. I just need to find some that will stay on top and not get dragged down by the nymph. I love those parasals you tie. I just wish I could tie them. Frank W for the most part I use your method a lot. I used to tie a piece of amnesia on the end on the line and watch it. With the indy I can detect the slightest takes better.


KG
By the way whats the story on the "Shop Vac nymph" I looked it up and very simple tie. How do you fish it.

Last edited by Tracker12; 04-04-2011 at 08:34 PM.
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Old 04-05-2011, 09:47 AM
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Default Re: Indicator Position

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tracker12 View Post
KG
By the way whats the story on the "Shop Vac nymph" I looked it up and very simple tie. How do you fish it.
I fish the Shop Vac as a searching nymph when I'm not sure what's happening under the surface. It's a pretty generic pattern and can represent a lot of things. The addition I made from Craig's original pattern is to add a peacock collar and use chartreuse ribbing material. If I could only use two nymphs rather than the three I can do here in Idaho, I would start with the Shop Vac trailed by a smaller offering as I described. Because it's not as heavy as the rubberlegs, I would also use some split shot above the nymph to get it in the zone. I fish it dead-drift through any likely looking run or riffle.

Here is a pic of the Improved Shop Vac that I tie:
Click the image to open in full size.

As far as the Parasol Emerger goes, it really is a simple tie. All you've got to do is tie up a few parasols and then tie them on the hook and dress the finished fly in any type nymph pattern that you like. Here is the link to my tutorial on tying the parasol: Tying Schollmeyer's Parasol Emerger

Good luck.

Kelly.
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Old 04-05-2011, 10:35 AM
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Default Re: Indicator Position

Good comments on the hardware, now on to technique...
When indi fishing the cast helps right from the start. A tuck cast will help get the weighted fly down quickly. After the cast think about the speed that the FLY is traveling when compared to the indicator itself. The current is typically much slower the deeper the fly so learn to mend. well-placed upstream mends will help keep the fly under the indicator instead of the fly being dragged across the bottom. The indicator itself can be a good indication of how the fly is behaving beneath it. If you use a type of indicator that tips in the direction opposite the fly is moving such as the o-ring/yarn type or the type with a peg simply mend to get the indicator either upright or upsteam of the fly.
The old sages say that if you're not losing a fly every so often you just ain't deep enough.
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Old 04-05-2011, 11:34 AM
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Default Re: Indicator Position

I just want to chime in with a few anecdotes. Once, I was fishing stocked rainbows that where hiding out in a weed bed below a shallow riffle. As nymphs were washed out of the riffle, they'd come out very shallow in front of the weeds. The slightly submerged weeds sheltered the trout, but only let them see the top ~6" of the water, which was enough to get the nymphs washing out of the shallows. Anything deeper was obstructed from view. Since my flies were pretty heavy, only by shortening the indicator to 6" or less above the fly was I able to catch fish. Even though the water was 18-30" deep. There was no visible hatch.

Another experience came this winter. Fish were on the rise to hatching size 20 midges. I knew they would be, and had the appropriate nymph tied up. However, most fish were only looking for the nymphs on or near the surface. An unweighted nymph less than 12" below an indicator worked just fine. I'm sure a dry fly would have worked as well. This was in 24-40" of water over a silt bottom.

I always start working the nymphs on the bottom, as several posters have described better than I could. But don't be afraid to experiment. Sometimes very shallow is the answer.
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