IF…
By Montana Grant

Posted: July 12, 2020

You had just one strike indicator, what would it be? Strike indicators are used to see delicate strikes when nymph fishing for trout. Certain lake and spring creeks require an indicator or a dry fly host to be effective. They can be used with spin rods but are best with fly rods.

Back in the 1970’s, I guided President Carter on a fly trip. We fished the Big Hunting Creek near Camp David. I was just a kid working as a Biology Fishery tech at the state hatchery. The President loved fly fishing and was an excellent caster and patient man. I showed him a new nymph technique that I was working on.

Homemade Balsa wood strike indicators. I saw the plan in an old Field and Stream magazine and made it my own. The small wooden stick was colored with a magic marker and would stick up when a fish struck. We fished a pool that I called “Brookie Basin” because of the huge, fat, and lazy Brook trout that lived there. Seeing a strike was near impossible. The strike indicator worked like a charm on the soft biting fish.

It is hard to find a fly fisherman today without an indicator on his line or tippet. Yarn, Palsa foam stick ons, screw on balls, and a host of other floating bobbers are available. All of these are good instructional tools. They will help you learn the fine art of nymphing. The problem is that they also slap the water, distract the fish, and are a huge crutch.

Some fly-fishing purists refuse to use “Bobbers” or nymph fish. Only a Dry Fly is worthy of a trout. The truth is that 90% of a trout’s diet are nymphs. Using just dry flies means casting away most of a trout’s menu.

Once you understand how to nymph fish and see the strikes, take your indicators off your line. Now use dry fly paste to dress the last 3 feet of your fly line and first 3 feet of your tippet. You now have a 6-foot-long tippet! You can also add a brite green or red butt section of tippet to enhance the long indicator. I also prefer white or peach colored line with a chartreuse butt tippet.

If you can’t see a 6-foot-long tippet and line indicator, get some better glasses. You may need to add floatant a few times a day. What the long indicator does is teach you how to get a natural and perfect nymph presentation. This takes practice but will be worth the effort.

To understand what I mean, start with 3 Palsa stick on indicators. Place them on your tippet spaced a foot apart, not clumped together as one big bobber. I use 3 different colors. This is an excellent way to teach nymphing. When you make a drift, watch the 3 indicators. They should all be moving at the same speed as the water current. If the rig is dragging, the 3 indicators will change position and drag. The result will be no fish.

Long indicator nymph fishing requires practice. Learn to anticipate the strike. A certain part of the drift is where the most strikes show up. Be Locked, Cocked, and Ready to Rock during this part of every drift. Extend your arm to add and extra 21/2 feet to the length of your rod/lever. Set the hook from your shoulder fulcrum and hang on!

A skilled nymph fisherman using this technique will out fish every other nymphing indicator method!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, find him nymphing at www.montanagrantfishing.com.