The Good and Bad of Indicators

“Nymph-fishing is close work. Fishing without an indicator, I’m forced to make sure that my rod tip is as close as I can get to directly above the fly and little or no line is lying on the water. I have a straighter, tighter connection to the fly.” Morgan Lyle notes that while indicators can be an indispensable part of many nymphing techniques, sometimes proximity to the fly and the fish makes all the difference. In the Schenectady, New York Daily Gazette.

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  • “nymph-fishing is close work.”
    it is if you’re fishing pocket water. or it is if u refuse 2 use an indicator. but indicators can add a lot of other nymphing and wet fly techniques 2 ur toolbox for a variety of other fishing conditions…making u a far more flexible angler. let’s face it, some anglers just can’t mend line very well. so fishing with an indicator doesn’t work for them. and they become convinced that the indicator spooks the fish. well, for them the indicator does spook the fish because it is cutting a wake on the surface and dragging the fly unnaturally through the water below as it builds resistance that gets in the way of a good hook-set on the rare fish that might strike a poorly presented fly. others can’t cast well enough to set an indictor rig on the water without a big splash. but just because they don’t have the skill set 2 use an indicator properly, that doesn’t make indicators a bad idea.

  • john egbert

    The best people I fish with who use indicators did not start nymphing with them. They may use an indicator, but they are still thinking habitat, presentation and line control, and take. With these elements working, one fly can work very well. I believe nymphing beginners should learn to fish without an indicator and pay attention to keeping the line in the right water and being persistent. The takes will come and intuition will take over. For many better fishermen, indicators interrupt this flow. Indicators are great for me, and perhaps this suggests a weakness in my fishing, when fishing deep water and fish are hanging somewhere between a foot and say six feet in depth. Yes, you can keep the fly at the right level in ways that are very hard without a floating device above the fly. In a freestone or any shallow water situation, it’s more fun to earn the fish with hard work, and perhaps a distraction to add an indicator when hard hits come more easily without one. If an indicator becomes too much of a crutch, I doubt that fly fishing can be as satisfying as without one.

  • March Brown

    For the most part, strike indicators are a way of allowing The “Yuppie”, River Runs Through It generation to catch Trout with out taking the time to develope the skills that the art of true nymph fishing requires. In the process it has degraded the Art of Nymph Fishing in the eyes of it’s detractors ( dry fly purist ). A devoted Nymph Fisherman would find a very limited application for strike indicators. Lakes and large pools are the few that come to mind. The bottom line is learn the skills before you lean on crutches!
    PS. the other down side of stike indicator is that they have developed thier own “hatch” of litter that lines the edges of our trout streams.

  • halcyonsancta

    Yo! March Brown
    Pretty snide there aren’t you? At least some of us Yuppies can spell and punctuate correctly in addition to nymphing well, (with or without an indicator, I let conditions dictate).
    I don’t reckon you make yourself look better by speaking poorly of others.
    Don’t forget that character is an essential aspect of fly fishing good Sir!