Dally’s How To: Indicators


DEPENDING on your point of view indicators/bobbers/floats are either a blessing or a curse on the fly fishing world.

Some see them as training wheels, others as essential tools for certain types of presentations. Both views have validity depending how you are using them, and the type you are using on a given occasion. But equally both can be way wrong.

Any half decent fly shop should offer you a broad selection, ours is more extensive than most, as different indicators perform differently, and with our varied water flow, there is damn good argument for not only carrying a range of sizes and colors but also styles.

If you look over our guide crew you will find everyone using different styles according to their preferences, a matter of personal choice, but everyone follows similar principles. So here’s our little shortlist of tips to selecting and rigging your indicators:

TRAPPED AIR: Airlocks, Thingamabobbers and the like float high, are durable and great for nymphing deep, when you can have your indicator up on the thick part of the leader. But they can be too bouyant for small midge rigs and will slip on 5x.

STICK-ONS:  Our best seller in low water flows among guides and wade fishers. Simple peel and stick around your leader. This will hold in skinny diameters, unlike most others. so great for fishing shallow. Lightning Strike Stick-Ons support more weight than Palsas.

HARD FOAM INDICATORS: These indicators have been around for a while, and remain popular. Football style, either with toothpick pegs, or rubber gaskets are highly popular, for their easy casting, four sizes and color range.

CORQs: Relatively new, these cork ball indicators are growing in popularity for their high visibility, natural materials and ease of use. No the best for minimum flow or very high flows.

YARN INDICATORS: Yarn indicators have a deserved reputation for sensitivity and light weight. But they can be fiddly to use, and need regular combing and floatant application to be at their best. Try the Kiwi Strike Indicator Kits

  • “IF YOU CAINT SEE IT, IT MIGHT AS WELL NOT BE THERE”: White or neutral colors have always been my first choice for an indicator, it seems more subtle, perhaps another foam bubble floating down a riffle. But if the light is wrong, there is too much fog, or bubbles or you plain can’t pick it out then the indicator is useless. Grab a fluoro color, bright orange seems best for most eyes, but some prefer the other fluoro colors, pinks, yellows and so on.
  • “BIG AINT ALWAYS BETTER”: After rule number 1, you might think that a bigger white indicator might be a better choice than a small orange. The size of your indicator should be determined by the weight below it (size of beads, type of fly and your split shot) rather than vision. Use color for vision not size.
  • “BALANCE YOUR BOBBERS”: Too small an indicator and it will be getting dragged down by the weight below it, too big a bobber and the trout will spit the flies before tindicators1he indicator reacts. Its not only a question of size, but different materials have different buoyancy. The Whitlock Telstrike indicators and other yarn indicators are way more sensitive to  Thingamabobbers.
  • “WATCH AND LEARN”: Paying attention to the drift of your indicator and how it reacts to different currents and line positions is how you take the bobber from being a set of training wheels. How the bobber is floating gives you plenty of information on how the flies are reacting, and then how to manipulate your line. Indicators can help you drift better if you pay attention.
  • “RIG HOW YOU MEAN TO FISH”: Some indicators are easier to move than others. Sliding indicators, like footballs with pegs or gaskets, or the looped Thingamabobber or yarn indicators are pretty easy to adjust your depth. On the other hand many of these will slide unintentionally  on the typical low water rig, when you have your indicator set in the 5x tippet section. Indicators which “stick-on” or are tied into your leader aren’t as easily adjusted. So pick which indicator you want (and how you rig it) according to how much adjustment you think you are going to need for the session.
  • “DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK”: If indicator setups are proving to be a headache give yourself a few extra minutes to go over the specifics with one of our team. Tell them what problems you are having, or what you are trying to achieve, the types of flies and shot you are using and let them make some suggestions. There is no such thing as a dumb question around here, we have already asked them all over the years