Location: Midwest, but wish I lived in north or west
When Is A Strike Indicator NOT A Bobber?
I'm preparing an article about strike indicators for my blog. I'm not really questioning if the strike indicator and the bobber are the same thing. Many of the uses are the same. What I'd like to know is, as a fly angler, do you employ any techniques with use of the strike indicator to help you hook fish which are not done, for example, soley to indicate a strike or set fly depth? Do you ever fish with an indicator in such a way that the conventional angler would find it impractical to duplicate with the bobber?
The last I 'seriously' fished with conventional tackle, I was probably 12. LOL. I always appreciate the viewpoint from those who have fished on both sides of the fence, too, as my experience in the other is more like a long-ago dream.
Thanks for any responses.
Location: Midwest, but wish I lived in north or west
Re: When Is A Strike Indicator NOT A Bobber?
Thanks for bringing that up as I definitely want to add it to the article since, as far as I know it is still a distinction from a use by the conventional angler. IMO, if my intention is to use dry fly as an indicator, or if I note that I have gotten a hit on the dropper d/t action of the dry fly, then I've used it as an indicator whether I intended this or not. (now I need to market a bobber with an attached hook, so I can get rich and spend all my time travelling and fly fishing)
So, to narrow it down a bit more, think of the original question in reference to using a strike indicatorsuch as a Thingamabobber or a foam indicator, etc.
Thingamabobber sells a version called the 'thingamabody', that looks like a big ant or perhaps a cricket. I have a few tied into hoppers, they don't float as high as I had hoped though (sorry no pic yet).
I like it when the indicator is a spider, especially after all the hoppers start to die in the fall.
There are "indicator" products for euronymphing that are not bobbers. Under European fly fishing regulations no bobbers or lead shot can be placed on the fly line or leader. So indicators must be integrated into the casting system, either as part of a leader that can be as long as 30 feet (10 meters). The Europeans are the innovators for these types of indicators.
These indicator systems are called "sighters". Early sighters we either fluorescent dacron backing or bright yellow Stren mono. The backing was wound around a pencil or dowel and striped with a black marker so it had a barber pole look. The mono was wound around a pencil or dowel dowel and put in boiling water, then into the freezer to set. The mono coil is then used as either a floating indicator or a sighter.
As a floating indicator, it is treated with floatant and the coils float on the water and reacts to the strike. As a sighter, it for direct line nymphing, it reacts by twitching on a take. The problem has been visibility so improvements have been made with specifically designed products rather than plain mono. One such product is Siman Ltd's Bicolor Indicator seen below. It is opaque rather than translucent and optic yellow and orange. It comes in varying diameters so that it can be incorporated into different thickness of the leader design.
A further improvement is the "drops" style indicator that has bright fluorescent optic colored UV activated glue drops along the coiled indicator either commercial or home made.
Without meaning to disparage the use of indicators among the many who employ them I will share just a couple personal thoughts.
I first heard of these things in the 1990's, that alone may lead you to believe I am not exactly on the pulse of current fads but I gave the technique a fair test. I used the method described in a book and prepared looped leader sections so that I was ready to fish various depths by changing the length of drop beneath the orange cork. I used this system on the upper Loyalsock Creek in Sullivan County PA. I did catch several nice brook trout while using the float & nymph system. I also used additional weight in the way of some shot to ensure a good strait down drift of the nymphs. During the same trip I switched to my old style approach of casting a brace of hares ear nymphs up and across and keeping a well dressed line mended while staying focused on the tip of my line. I caught several more brook trout and a brown trout in the way I had learned when I started using a nymph. At the end of the day I guess I determined that the way I had been using nymphs for about 20 years at that time was effective and I saw the float and leader adjusting as added complication to an otherwise leisurely pursuit.
I know that the more stuff you tie onto a leader, the more chance you have of getting a tangle in the riggings. This too complicates an otherwise simple thing. I don't use any type of indicator and would say that 80% of the fish I ever caught on a sunken nymph got hooked when they took the fly and I was able to feel them in the line and rod, I didn't need a visual indication that I had a fish on. This is only reflecting my own experiences and I'm sure may not be a general result among people drifting a nymph.
On a local heavily fished river, the fish eat tiny bugs and they're spooky. The water is pretty flat and slow. The only way I could get to them was fishing downstream with a long leader. I'd cast down and across, dip the rod tip under the water to sink the line, let the line straighten, then raise the rod so the fly would rise. I had to guesstimate when the line was straight and when the fly was in the area where the fish were working. The area was too far away to tell when the end of the tippet was coming up, so I put a tiny dab of floatant putty on the last knot above the fly. It helped me "range" the rising fly and get set for the strike. It wasn't really a "strike indicator" and it wasn't there to manage the depth of the fly.
To each his own but I think relying on tricks and short cuts in order to say you are successful with a fly rod is like needing to be stoned or drunk to say you are having fun. Yeah, I really said that,
Ard, with due respect...I'd guess that flyfishers from a the past would feel the same about some equipment, methods, flies or fly materials that you're using today. I use indicators, but often nymph without them and prefer not to nymph at all, unless dropping one under a dry.
I do believe the hard way is better and hate the lowest common denminator. Having said that, bobbers allow new fishers to be successful. Some move on to other methods, others don't.
Until I retired I was able to fish maybe 10 days/year and there are many folks in the same shape. They don't have 20 years to figure it out and don't have days to take a skunk and chock it up to gaining experience. By the time they fish again they've lost whatever they gained.
I understand what you're saying and it's true...for you. For others with a differring perspective, not so much. just my 2 cents...