Making your own foam strike indicators : Part 1

Posted: May 19 2015

I have been playing around with a number of different indicators over the years. And I have been trying to find one that fits all of my nymphing needs. I'm not sure if that is even possible, but I am trying. So far I like or dislike all of them for different reasons and have used them all on different occasions. I have also caught fish while using each different indicator. Here is a list of the ones I have used with pros and cons.

1 - Hard foam indicators that require a tooth pick to keep the indicaor in place - These are the ones I use the most. They are durable, Cast well, float well in all situations and stay on the line where they are supposed too. The bad part about them is that if you want to take it off, you have to take the fly and the weight off too....lots of extra work when you need to change quickly.

2 - Hard foam indicators that have a slit down the side and require a rubber band or tooth pick to secure it in place - These are the same indicators as above but with a slit running down the length of the foam. I have had and seen more problems with this kind of indicator than any other. They often fly off when casting, or when a fish or the bottom is hooked and they don't stay in place as well as the ones that require just the toothpick to secure them. The only good thing about them is that they are easy to put on and take off.....almost too easy!

3 - Poly yarn indicators - These indicators are basically polly yarn or rope that has been combed out and looped through an O-Ring which is then bunched together and tied off or held in place by another smaller O-Ring. These indicators are more sensitive in my opinion than the hard foam indicators and can be made very easily by yourself with a few dollars and some time. They are also easy to take on and off and stay on the line where they are supposed to accept when using really light tippet. The down fall is that they don't work at all in cold weather. Anytime when the air is close to the freezing point, these indicators will cake up with ice. They may also require some extra floatant from time to time as well.

4 - Pinch-on closed cell foam indicators - These indicators are bought on a sheet and have a sticky side to them. You peel one off from the sheet and place it centered on your leader and then fold it in half to secure it in place. These indicators are small and work really well with small flies and light tippet. And sometimes experieced guides and fly anglers like to use two of them placed a foot or more apart on the leader for better strike detection. The bad part is that they can, and do, slide up and down the leader if not applied properly, and once you take them off, you can't use them again.

5 - Thingamabobbers - These are plastic air filled balls with a loop on the end. These are light weight easy to cast and can easily be taken on and off when needed. The only downfall with these is they don't hold their place very well when used on light tippet(6x or lighter) and they aren't as durable as the other on this list.

These are all great indicators and I am sure that everyone has at least one favorite if not two or three depending on conditions. But I have one more for you to consider. It is an indicator that you can make yourself , it will float in all conditions(without the use of floatant) and can be easily put on or taken off as conditions dictate. And I will give the instrutcions here on how to make them. All you need is a utility blade, cutting board, needle nosed pliers, fly tying sissors, 5/16" and 1/4" O-Rings from the hardware store, and a sheet of closed cell foam that you can buy at the craft store.

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