How To Use Strike Indicators (Fly Fishing)

In this strike indicators fly fishing blog post, you will learn how to use strike indicators on flies and where to place strike indicators on the fly line.

 The Strike Indicator is an excellent tool for beginners and advanced fly fishers alike to help them become better at catching fish. 

Here I will discuss some of the best strike indicators while reviewing the most popular options in the market.

What’s a strike indicator?

A fly fishing strike indicator is a piece of equipment that you attach to your leader, either directly to the leader or the tippet, to track when a fish hits your fly.

They are used in fly fishing to determine the fish’s mood. The indicators have been designed to match the colors of the flies that are tied to them. This is done to light up the indicator when a fish is eating your fly. 

How to use different types of strike indicators for fly fishing

There are many different types of strike indicators used in fly fishing made of yarn, cork, foam bubbles, and many more, and they all serve different purposes.

Cork is a natural, renewable, water-resistant material that can be used to make strike indicators. It is the most popular type of strike indicator because it is highly visible, easy to use, inexpensive, has good buoyant properties, and is very durable.

Yarn strike indicators are also known as yarn-in-a-tube indicators, designed to show a fisherman the position of a fish in the water when they are not striking hard. It is ideal for small flies because it is lightweight and can be easily cast.

Here are a few best strike indicators which are used a lot:

Thingamabobber Strike Indicator

A Thingamabobber is one of the versatile indicators used to determine when the right time to fish for a specific bait is. It is usually made of a closed celled balloon filled with air and comes in different sizes (½”, ¾,” 1″, and one ¼) and multiple colors. It is 30% lighter and is attached to the fishing line at the end of the leader.

When a fish strikes, the balloon will pop, and the indicator will float to the surface. The fisherman then knows that it is time to begin reeling in the line. The buoyancy force of the indicator is what makes it work. 

A Thingamabobber is a great tool for nymph fishing, but it can get difficult to lift in windy weather as it begins to kink the leader. However, it is one of the best all-around strike indicators and worth the investment. 

Airflo Airlock Strike Indicator

The Airflo Airlock Strike Indicator is a Thingamabobber improved version with a plastic nut attached to the leader. 

When the leader is pulled back, the cap slides up and down. When it is released, it falls off the leader. The indicator can be easily adjusted to fit different leaders, even up to 90 degrees. It has superb buoyancy and gets adjusted quickly.

There is a major difference between a Thingamabobber and the Air Flo Airlock strike indicator. That is how you attach and adjust the nut to your desired location, whether you are fishing on a boat or in broken or deep water.

However, it becomes difficult to handle the nut in bad weather conditions because it can be lost while setting the adjustment to the leader.

Fish Pimp Strike Indicator

You can use the Fish Pimp fly fishing strike indicator on any fishing, but it is especially useful for big flies and dropper rigs. It is 30% lighter than traditional floating indicators (mainly foam indicators), and it is aerodynamically shaped to maximize its buoyancy. It is a simple, reusable fishing indicator designed to help you catch more fish. 

Stick-on Strike Indicator

The Stick-On Indicator is a small, sticky indicator that attaches to your leader without any knots.

They are perfect for delicate fishing situations, even in the wind, and are especially useful for fishing with sensitive fish such as trout, bass, or other species that might be spooked by knots.

Since you need to get an indicator on your quick line and you are ready to go, this is a go-to-go called an indicator.

However, removing these from the leaders on hot days becomes difficult. If you want to use them, you have to purchase them regularly.

New Zealand Strike Indicator

The New Zealand Strike Indicator is a unique regular yarn type indicator. It is made of nylon and has a large, easy-to-see end of the line. It is great for delicate casting situations when you don’t want to spook any fish.  

It is designed to be used with a length of rubber tubing and a hook. This tool aims to allow you to see whether or not you have received a strong or weak strike in crystal clear water.

The New Zealand Strike Indicator generally comes in three sizes-small, medium and large. It is available in red, white, or black with or without a plastic handle. 

Pinch On’s Fly Fishing Strike Indicator

The Pinch-On Fly Fishing Strike Indicator is a must-have for any fly fisherman who wants to land soft, fast, and accurately. This works well for small flies such as nymphs, small streamers, and even dry flies in low and slow water.

I generally try to use a pinch on strike indicator as a doublet as a single pattern indicator that helps figure out the angle and position of flies. Although it’s convenient to float below water, it’s not a good idea for faster- broken water.

Football Fly Fishing Strike Indicator

The indicator is attached by a toothpick or a rubber band to the leader. When the fish takes the bait, it strikes the leader, moving the indicator. It is usually made of Styrofoam, soft foam material, and is designed to fit a specific size of leader.

This is the perfect tool for anglers who fish in fast-moving water or for those who want to be able to tell when a fish strikes.

It’s easy to place and put on the leader; it’s perfect for nymphing with less resistance power against the wind and water. The only drawback is that it hits the water very hard, and dragging it back becomes difficult.

Wool Strike Indicators 

The leader has a tuft of wool that is attached to it. It is the best indicator for shallow water because of its lightweight and jazzy properties.

You could not put the gear in the water while casting a heavy nymph rig with a wool strike indicator. This could cause the indicator to get sucked under your rig, which gets very difficult to pull after.

Dry Flies as Strike Indicators

Dry flies are excellent strike indicators for fishing. They’re also a great way to attract fish. You need to select a suitable dry fly pattern, attach it to your hook, and cast it into the water. The more you practice, the better you get at this.

There are many types of dry fly patterns, and each one has its advantages and disadvantages. Chornobyl Ant, Pheasant Tail, and Parachute Adams are some of the dry flies I use most often. 

You can use a dry fly with a barbed hook and a lead head if you fish from a boat.

Where to place strike indicator on the fly line

I have been using a strike indicator for years but have always found it irritating to place it on the fly line when I tie it in. I know some people like it that way, but I don’t and would like to change it. When fishing on my graphite rod, the guide is about 1/8″ from the rod tip, where I place the indicator.

 If you’re not used to having the indicator so close to the tip of your rod, you may find it difficult to keep it in place. Try moving it closer to the rod’s grip or placing it farther down the rod.

How to rig a strike indicator using a fly fishing rod

Each indicator on your line is different. Some will be heavier than others, and some may be more visible depending on their purpose. If you have a heavy lead-in or bight indicator, you might consider tying that in as your leader. Your indicators can be different, too, with some being a different color.

Yarn indicators can be as simple as a colored string that hangs from your project or as complicated as a custom-made ball of yarn. One of the main concerns for most knitters is getting the yarn to stay on the needle. Yarn indicators, in one way or another, are designed to help.

Many of the indicators you find on a chart may be attached with a rubber band or bobber-style attachment.

Do you necessarily need a strike indicator for fly fishing?

You don’t need a strike indicator for fly fishing, but it can come in handy for some specific situations. Strike indicators are mostly used by anglers who are fly fishing on rivers or lakes, where there are no other nearby trees to indicate when a fish has taken the bait.

It also helps you see the strike point, which helps you learn to cast a fly rod. However, it is not recommended to use these devices in any other way since they can cause a distraction and interfere with your casting performance.

Can you use a strike indicator with dry flies?

Yes, you can use a strike indicator with dry flies of small size. To suspend a nymph on the line, you can tie the hook with a soft leader and attach the strike indicator with a small split shot. It should be tied as close to the fly line as possible. You can use the same method with midges and large sizes. 

Can you use a bobber when fishing fly? 

Yes, definitely. Anglers use a bobber to prevent their flies from becoming snagged on underwater objects. You can use a bobber to catch fish, but it should be designed specifically. It should have a small, flat disc at the end, which allows you to cast your line in shallow water. It should also be made of non-corrosive material so that it doesn’t rust or corrode over time.

How do you fish midges under indicators?

A basic right-angle nymphing setup is what the typical midge rig for subsurface fishing is used for. The midges tend to hatch in the slow current, and therefore, you can use a small net to collect the midges and then place them in a jar with a drop of rubbing alcohol. This will kill the midges and allow you to see them. Alternatively, you can use a UV lamp to kill the midges. The lamp must be placed on a flat surface and then placed under the indicators.

Using a fly rod set up, position the split shot about 8 inches above the fly for midge fishing. This will allow a fly-first presentation, with the nymph drifting downstream of the shot.

How do you fish nymphs under an indicator?

The easiest way to fish nymphs under an indicator is to use a floating line with a single hook. 

If you have a floating line with a split shot attached to the end, the best way to fish nymphs under an indicator is to let the split shot drift under the indicator and then move your rod tip up and down until you feel the bite.

How to use fly fishing strike indicators Summary

I hope you enjoyed this guide on how to use fly fishing strike indicators with flies and fly lines and where to place them correctly.

Fly fishing is a great way to enjoy the outdoors. It’s relaxing and challenging at the same time. It’s challenging, and you might feel like you’re fighting a fish.

The strike indicators fly fishing is a small piece of equipment that helps you know when a fish has taken your fly. It’s used in conjunction with a fly rod and reel.

It’s important to note that using the best strike indicator is only one puzzle piece. You also need to know how to cast and set the hook. I will be covering this topic in more detail in my next article.

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