Always a ton of argument over nymphing indicators--are they necessary, what's the best, whether an indicator that suspends a fly is really just a bobber (with all the embarrassment that that word implies), and how stoooooopid we will feel if a trout hits the indicator and it doesn't have a hook (it's not a dry fly).
I think for non-tight-line nymphing in rivers, especially when weight is needed to get the nymphs down, the leader rig is the most important part of gear--more than the fly pattern, certainly more than the rest of it. As long as we can get a good leader rig into the right water, we're a long way there.
But as I've begun to transition more from wet fly (swing) techniques to dead drift nymph techniques with weighted nymphs and leader rigs, I've been wrestling more with all those indicator questions. Everyone does. I think I can dispel the "bobber" indictment because I have a rig that gives me a lot less slack than most, so a "suspend" dead drift still retains most of the charm and advantages of "real" fly fishing. So I can just think of the suspend-indicator as an overly buoyant bit of fly line, and the bobber analogy kinda goes away.
That leaves the old, "isn't it better to use an indicator that will catch fish?" bushy dry fly argument. Won't I feel stupid if my piece of styafoam or blob of yarn gets hammered? Don't I want fish to strike that big ol' Elk Hair Caddis or Stim indictor? Don't I want to double my chances of action?
And it suddenly came to me: No. Why would I? Why would I want one of those eager small fry who are too little to hang out down low in the prime feeding lanes with the big boys--the hatchery orphans so hungry or stupid they charge to the surface and slash at whatever they can--to hang themselves up on my indicator and spoil a perfect cast? ...and then leap and dance all over the place, putting the cagey 18-inchers off their feed? ...and only to rip their little jaws off when I accidently start a new back cast just as they're hooking themselves?
If I'm so desperate for action that I'll settle for those little fish, I'm not going to be rigged to dead drift deep to begin with. I won't be courting bottom snags and using complicated dropper rigs. If I want surface small fry I'll already be using a sweet little dry, solo, no bead heads, no shot, laying a nice one-fly cast out in classic style.
No, I don't think I want an oversized indicator fly to hook something. I want a suspend-indicator to do its "suspend" job and let the nymphs do theirs. I want the deep action. This means I'm coming around to the opinion that the best suspend-indicator (for weighted rigs anyway) is something without a hook.
This kinda goes against most opinions I've heard about the advantages of using a dry fly as your indicator. I get it for dropper rigs, but not for weighted leaders where the nymph is trying to stay way down there.
I prefer to use duck decoys, that way no one can accuse me of using a "bobber"!
Seriously, some fly fishers spend too much time worrying about what others think of them or the methods used. To me it's just fishing so I'll use what works when I have to. Not a big fan of "indicators" but have & will use them if need be. I probably like a hopper (foam) & dropper the best if I have to choose something!
If I'm really after bigger fish, I'll be tossing big streamers at them, rather than nymphs, but that's just me!
Naturally popularity is a non-issue; we do have to make up our minds whether "bobbers" (or duck decoys...or inflatable purple Barneys) are going to be less fun. For me that was an easy one, again because I rig so that I'm more directly attached to the flies. So it still "feels" like fly fishing to me.
But I kept thinking I preferred to use a fly, & then suddenly it hit me that it's exactly what I don't want to do.
Jim, sounds like you go with a hopper/dropper. I still would too, except that the shot I'm now using means the hopper has to be real big. Kept thinking maybe I could tie up some big ones...until I thought about what kind of tiny idiot fish would likely hit the thing.
Michael, IMO any of these details are what we each have to work out for ourselves & to suit ourselves. I stopped using purple Barneys because the occasional errant hook kept deflating them!
I don't do a lot of trout fishing, did a lot more of it in my younger days, so size of the fish is a non-issue for me. With a few exceptions, my area is not known for really big trout anyway, at least not like rivers & streams in other states. I'll go with whatever will bite when I'm on a trout stream. I use nymphs more for Smallmouths than anything & they're usually big flies. The hopper/dropper combination is something I've used quite a bit in the past, and it worked well at the time. although, as you've said, sometimes the smaller fish can become quite annoying. If that's the only problem I'll encounter, I can live with it.
I've come to prefer single flies most of the time, knowing it limits the opportunities, but I'm fine with that. I would rather fish a single fly well, than a double fly rig poorly regardless of what or how big might end up at the end on my line.
---------- Post added at 06:51 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:37 PM ----------
Maybe it is me, but unless it is the dog days of summer and it is full on hopper season or I am using a size 12 Madam X , Stimulator etc etc I don't drop off a weighted nymph.
I will run a jujube, rs2 etc etc off size 18 dries but any bigger than that or beads and I struggle keeping the dry afloat.
You need to use a bigger fly!
This one is on a 1/0 worm hook!
These are all on size 2 hooks!
Although not really a hopper pattern, this bad boy is tied on a 2/0 worm hook & is about 4" long, not counting the rubber legs. Nice thing about big flies is if I lost the grip on my rod, I don't have to worry about losing it. This fly will float anything!
If the fish are on the bottom I use a strike indicator
Yep. And how you said it, it sounds like it's not a fly. That's more or less what I'm talking about--used to accept that a fly as an indicator is more ideal, but if I really think for myself, I believe it has just always caused problems.
Well i see the point, and whether the old timers are shrugging their shoulders or not so what?.....Someone will read this who instantly gravitates to the nymph dropper opinion, then wonder the exact same thing.....So it might just save them the trouble.
That said, since the OP has struck on that bit of wisdom, consider this linear aspect as well....Ever cast out with a fly (especially lake fishing) only to have to yank a gazillion tiny Bluegills off your hook?....Simply take your same mindset yet "up-hook" what you're fishing. IOW, instead of casting out that #12 Hopper, switch up to say a size #4. Oh sure the lake piranha will still swarm it, yet none have big enough mouths to get hooked. After enough have tasted it, give it a twitch or two, and *wham* the one you were looking for will bite, and get hooked.
Without a hook or with a bigger hook to be selective just might make that strike to your "indicator" a productive one
Jim, those are some big bugs. I tried the biggest one I have (in the general class of the ones you show) but it doesn't quite hold up the shot I have to use in this one favorite stretch. And I got to thinking that I don't really want one anyway, especially not in spring when a big hopper isn't going to fool anything except something stupid like small fry. I have caught fish on the indicator but they're very rarely the fish I'm after.
> prefer single flies most of the time...would rather fish a single fly well
I hear you; complicated rigs are pains (unless you like knot unraveling practice or want to collect weed for a salad). And yes, if one's worse problem is the size of the fish, it's hard to complain. But once I start letting the fry cause a commotion, it seems to be the end of the bigger action in a given spot.
Anyway, just thinking...wondering if anyone else has deliberately disqualified big dries as indicators precisely for the reason that they do a poorer job of suspending while doing a better job of "spoiling" the spot.
Your comment about smallmouths makes me recall...I've recently found a different river that "warms" through a certain stretch and where reputedly the trout section smoothly gives way to the smallmouth section. I look forward to nymphing in the nether zone there and seeing what I get!
Long before strike indicators (or at least before I or we knew they existed), my dad, at times, would use a small pine cone on his line for a strike indicator, one day he used a candy wrapper on my line, he just half hitched it into the leader.
Years later I saw and bought palsa pinch ons. wow how fishing changed. I fished everyday and had never used them.