Indicators - Must be OK ? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Indicators - Must be OK ?

08-07-2002, 08:59 AM
I happened to catch the ESPN Outdoor games - Fly Fishing competition at the motel last week while in South Dakota on vacation. This was not the casting competition but the trout fishing competition on the NYS Ausable River.

I noticed that the winner and I assume the other competitor anglers were allowed to use INDICATORs.

I guess I should think about changing my fly fishing puritanical ethics developed over the last 42 years ?

One would think this would not be allowed to enable a true test of the fly fisherman's wet fly/nymph technical skills.

What do others think ?


08-07-2002, 09:35 AM
Quick! shut off this thread! :chuckle:

Just kidding, I think we concluded in numerous posts "to each his/her own", except where prohibited by law.

08-07-2002, 09:37 AM
I "think" it is lowering the bar, maybe even go so far as to say ...................... Oh thats right it has all been said before.

Dble Haul
08-07-2002, 10:10 AM
Yeah, what Juro said.

08-07-2002, 11:22 AM
Yes, agree, but thought it interesting they allowed them in a competition.

FlyfishAr, is this the norm from your competition experience ?

Sorry FF colleagues I will not bring up this dreaded subject again and also the dreaded technology subject either.

:tsk_tsk: :tsk_tsk:

08-07-2002, 12:38 PM
I meant that more in the joking sense than in a serious tone... but it's true that we've beat this one to a pulp. Bring it up in February and we'll all dive in! :devil:

08-07-2002, 01:55 PM

08-07-2002, 03:36 PM
Well, as everyone knows who has frequented the forum in the past several months, I have been an outspoken and often rude critic of this form of fishing. With that acknowledgement...

My grandmother was my mentor on all things relating to the understanding, and hopefully, acceptance of diversity. It was her tutelage that led me to my strong sense of minority rights advocacy and social progressivism. To her I owe a great deal.

I have decided to wear the "other's" shoes (at least for a while). I plan on fishing indicator-style for trout for the next several months so as to understand its appeal among supporters. Whether or not I continue after this trial period is still in question but I promise that my comments will no longer be so volatile and prejudicial.

Who knows what I may learn...?


08-07-2002, 04:13 PM
I use strike indicators. When you are fishing a nymph and want a dead drift in a specific current seam, there is no other way to do it. I see guys using them on flat water and in other places where they are not warranted (pocket water) and I think that is where the (mis)conception that the things are for fools and others who don't know how to fish. I will add that I have fished indicator nymphs alongside others and caught fish when they did not. Their is some skill involved. I am pretty sure that the guys fishing in the outdoor Games on ESPN do it pretty skillfully. There is no right or wrong way to fish, whatever makes you happy, go ahead and do it. It's all good as far as I am concerned. Just have fun and be cool!

08-07-2002, 10:10 PM

Let me know how your indicator pilot test works out, I will probably be the last man abstaining along with Juro, you and a few others before I change my anachronisitic FF methods.

One has to draw the line in the sand somewheres and make a stand to their principles right or wrong.

The few extra fish I may catch using an indicator is not the factor which would make me change so I guess I am not going to change on the use of Indicators in FF.



P.S. Are you going to make it up to BC to see the R.Haig exhibit in Campbell ?

08-08-2002, 01:38 AM

Since you have asked me to actually think about it, the issue of indicators in World Competitions is a little ambigious. Typically, the rules specifically prohibit the use of common indicators. By common I mean "foam" and/or "bobber" style indicators.

However, most competitions encourage the use of 3 or more flies. In this circumstance you can easily drop a nymph off a dry fly. Technically, it would be permissible to use a yarn indicator as long as it contained a hook. Many of the European tackle advertisements I get in the mail have these type indicators advertised. The use of "hot butt" leaders are allowed. These are where you use a section of brightly colored Amnesia for the first short section of leader. Most of the loop to loop leader connections have a bright red section to be used as an indicator.
And, of course brightly colored fly lines are allowed so that you can use the tip to indicate a take.

If it were allowed in a competition I would imagine most anglers would use any or all techniques at their disposal that were within the rules.

Too bad your question wasn't about TV Fly Fishermen. I could have had some real fun with that one. ;)


08-08-2002, 09:13 AM
FlyfishAr (John),

Thanks, wow three flies are allowed. Is there any state in the US that allows more than two flies these days ?

No need to comment on TV fly cast competitions I already received that input from you off line. Do they do Casting Calls for potential FFs for these competions which takes into account FF skills and photo genics on camera etc. ?


08-08-2002, 09:28 AM
In my humble opinion... no statements, just a personal perspective:

Each gamefish / situation calls for a different tactic. I fish mostly steelhead in rivers and stripers in coastal salt waters, with some trout and warmwater mixed in.

For steelies I prefer to use a barbless unweighted single fly that I "swim" through the nuances of a river's structure using the line to direct the presentation to tease the prized chrome torpedo to come to the fly, rather than bring the fly to the fish on a drift. Dry line is the dream, but sinktips make winter realistic. Steelhead is borderline religion to me and indicators don't fit in that perspective although it does for many and I won't persecute anyone for it, other than perhaps an occasional tampon joke :devil: In fact there are many gear guys on the river I respect deeply for their skill and concern about wild steelhead.

For stripers, indicators would not even come to mind due to the situation. Some folks criticize weighted eye flies yet use a daisy chain of flies on dropper leaders. I find this ironic but none of my business. The salt is a churning brine of bloody fish killing survival and that's without including fishermen! Anyway, I like a single barbless fly and find it very effective based on everything else you do in addition to the fly choice. I have no qualms about using weighted eyes on a fly but my reasons are for presentation reasons similar to bonefishing. Multiple flies seems a little over the top though, I don't practice the sabiki method ;) The same goes for pacific salmon in the ocean, rip or be ripped is the rule out there. SWFF fishing is dog-eat-dog predatory pursuit for me, there is no room for purism in the ocean food chain as I see it, to each his/her own. Again I fish alongside anglers using methods and a good angler is a good angler regardless of the methods used.

For FW bass I use topwater poppers, sliders, baitfish patterns and grubby leechy crawfishy stuff, anything goes. It's not serious business, no tournaments for me - just a load of fun in the lilly pads with exploding bucketmouths and blistering bronzebacks.

For trout... I see the reason for the debate but I'm really not worthy of participating. I am not much of a trout angler but the FF world is primarily trout and it does appear as if the majority goes with the indicator approach especially if one judges by what's shown on TV programs lately. The trout FFing I've done in the past has been (a) messing around with hoppers and dries on cold freestone streams (b) fishing small dries or emergers on New England ponds (c) dry and nymph dropper rig, a variation of the indicator but the indicator catches fish (d) streamers for the shoreline cruisers at dawn. Certainly the dry/nymph dropper is the most effective in terms of picking fish out of pockets in a stream but I wonder if this is due to convenience and results-oriented thinking and not pursuit of the real essence of the sport? I wouldn't know. I've caught the biggest fish using streamers very early in the morning, had the most fun flipping hoppers under willow trees in cold north country streams, felt the satisfaction of float tubing to fish rising to gnats on Thoreau's Walden pond, but without a doubt caught more fish using a dressed dry fly with a flourocarbon dropper to a small nymph.

If trout were my religion, I could give my opinion. Although I want to pursue trout angling to a more serious degree in my lifetime, but I can't at this point say whether indicators are or are not standard fare. I guess in the end, it down to the same blurb that we started on...

"to each his/her own" within the limits of the law. :chuckle:

except now my fingers are cramped from typing!

old man
08-08-2002, 10:03 AM
I thought that I would add my two cents to this subject. After this was discussed before I went out and bought some of those stick on kind. The kind that you wrap over you line/bright colors.

Well after I bought them they just sat.Could not bring myself to use them. So I gave them away

You guys have to stop talking about all of this extra stuff for fly fishing. Because it seems that I have to go out and buy it all and then never use it.:D

08-08-2002, 10:17 AM

If they would only let me use 3 or 4 flies in the trophy areas here. Actually, that would probably be a little unfair. Since you basically have to hit these big browns in the lips to get them to take a midge having the ability to use just one fly makes it more than a challenge. If I could use 4

The basic nymph set up contains 3 elements:
1. Something to indicate a take.......... This can be a visual que or a take by feel as in the Polish or Czech nymphing style.
2. A weight......... In competition since external weight is not allowed we use flies that are weighed to the grain. Weight is probably "the" most important issue in having a proper drift. Too much weight and the fly grabs and hops, to little weight and the fly never gets to the bottom. Of course using a weighted fly line is always a fair substitute but you are somewhat limited as to the range of weight for a specific drift.
3. Your fly and/or flies.

This is just "one" in a long list of the methods that you can use in fly fishing for river species. Obviously swinging flies, dry flies, emergers, midges, and a list of still water techniques can all be used.

Juro is dead on with his comments on the method matching the situation. To date I don't think I know anyone that has dropped a worm fly off a hopper while going for tarpon. Also I can't remember ever using more than one fly while fishing a streamer. I would imagine that would be an effective technique while going for stripers working schools of bait fish.


08-08-2002, 01:34 PM
Yup, agree - horses for courses and if your having fun and not interfering with someone elses then thats all that matters.

On the subject of multipe flies, in case anyone gets the wrong idea, it has a noble heritage!

It's been a long time since I did any traditional drift fishing with a team of three. The idea is not to catch three fish at once - multiple hook-ups are quite rare. Each fly has a function - top dropper (or 'bob' fly) is typically a bushy affair and is 'dibbled' prior to drawing the successive flies to the surface. Also, the idea is to present fish with a choice.

The traditional cast is between 30ft and 50ft seldom more. A few smooth strips and the long rod (up to 12ft single handed) is slowly lifted to bring the bob fly to the surface. The middle dropper and point fly are slowly stroked away from the surface into a single back cast and the team is presented again. The beauty of short range fishing is that from a drifting boat, surface rises can be covered very qiuickly.

Takes are frequently spectacular - an explosion of red dots and golden flanks against the reflection of slate gray clouds and white capped waves. :smokin:

We could also talk about dapping which is sort of the fresh water equivalent of live-lining but using live mayflies or daddy long-legs - then again perhaps not :devil:

08-08-2002, 03:20 PM

I had the pleasure of visiting Inchnadampf in the Scottish Highlands last year and watching a fellow I met at the pub "dapping." This is a true artform involving a long "pole", woven silk line and a "daddy" fly, flutterred repeatedly across the surface. No reel. He literally worked the fish (primarily twinkie browns) into a frenzy until they would jump out of the water and take the fly mid-air! :eyecrazy:

One of the most amazing places and techniques I have ever seen. Just another example of the cultural variety and rich tradition which accompanies our sport...


08-10-2002, 12:11 PM
Old Man,

Cool, I am with you just cannot get myself to use them either. When I get out to SKagit country will have to look you up and wet a line on your fine waters.

The gentlemen fly fishers from the Theodore Gordon Fly Fishing club who taught me the fly fishing ethics of the great NYS
Catskill Rivers (Beaverkill, Willowemuc, Neversink, etc) where fly fishing started in America at 12 years old are now in fly fishing heaven.

I cannot bear to think they would be looking down on me now if I used indicators, saying, look how Hal has digressed after 42 years of fly fishing from the basic ethics taught by us at the birth place of american fly fishing.

Heck some of these gentlemen would only fish dry flies, nymph fisherman were almost looked at as bait fisherman.

I hope this has some influence on the younger fly fishers in the forumn. You don't need all of this new technology to catch fish on flies and will be able to retain the ethics and history of the sport.

Someone has to do it, I guess I will be one of them for the rest of my fly fishing days. Hopefully another 30 years.


08-23-2002, 04:03 PM
I have less than one year of time in fly-fishing and everyone one has different techniques they use to catch fish. Hey, I thought an indicator was a dry fly with a trailing wet fly using the dry fly as an indicator if the fish took the wet fly… silly me . I saw my first indicator the other day and to me it's a fly-fishing term for a bobber. In my limited time fly fishing I have never used one and probably never will.

08-23-2002, 04:17 PM
Yeah, I haven't been able to get into it. After saying I would give it a try - it just didn't feel right. My son and I tried for about a half hour before removing the indicators. We talked about it later and the overriding feeling was being uncomfortable using them. Physiological or psychological? Can't really say. Just not for us.


08-23-2002, 04:52 PM
Hey lets start a club, thats exactly how I feel about those things.

"Say no to Indies" (or something like that)

:chuckle: :chuckle:

08-24-2002, 12:35 PM
Folks, I have used indicators for trout a few times in the past on some of Montanas rivers during the twelve years I spent in that trout heaven. I used a piece of bright flame orange egg yarn tied to the leader. Didn't like fishing this way so I quit after only doing so a half dozen times or so, it seemed to be too much like fishing with a bobber on a spinning rod.

I learned how to fly fish in Northeast Pennsylvania beginning in 1958 and dad and his fly fishing friends never fished an indicator. If they wanted to know what a nymph, and there were very few nymph fishers then, was doing below the surface, they used a very bushy Wullf fly or a humpy, which they called goofus bugs because that is what Dan Bailey's called them. This was not a common nor frequent practice though.

I learned that if you tied a nymp[h on the point and had wet fly droppers it was very effective and carught a lot of fish. When I moved to Montana, I fished three fly wet fly rigs quit often in places like Wise River, Yak, upper Bighole, Gallatin, upper Clark Fork, Sun River, North Fork Flathead, Thompson, Jocko, Dearborn, Stillwater, and Boulder rivers. It was still as effective as in Pennsylvania during my youth.

If there is no hatch present I wouldn't hesitate to fish a three fly wet fly rig on any trout stream or river where it was legal. The only thing to remember is that you must fish closer than about 50 feet with 30 to 35 being about ideal. If longer, you can't efectively work the flies in the needed fashion.