Making Strike Indicators & Usage Considerations
Making your strike indicators is a worthwhile endeavor. Such devices help monitor the speed and depth of your fly, and telegraph the subtle subsurface take of a trout. While there are an incredible diversity of commercial products, simple yarn indicators are favored by most fishermen. They are easy to see, cast, and adjust. Moreover, they can be constructed for pennies, tied in a variety of colors to match different light conditions and fabricated in different sizes to match different fly sizes, weights, and water conditions.

1. Select a length of yarn. The bundle of material should be half the diameter of the completed strike indicator.

2. Pinch the bundle of material in the left hand (right-handed tier). The amount of material that extends beyond the thumb and forefinger should be slightly longer than the desired length of the completed indicator.

3. Catch the end of the Monocord tying thread with the thumb and forefinger of the left hand and begin wrapping the material with thread. Each wrap of thread should overlap the previous wrap. Wrap the material, moving from right to left, as though dressing a bare hook shank. Periodically adjust the grip on the material so that thread wraps are laid down near the point where the material is pinched in the left hand.
4. Wrap a length of material that is just long enough so that the wrapped portion can be doubled over to form a loop, approximately 40 wraps of Monocord.
5.Double the material and bring the opposite ends of the wrapped material together. Secure the loop at that point with several thread wraps.
6. Complete the indicator by tying several 5-turn whip-finishes at the base of the loop. Trim to length and reserve the remaining material to tie another indicator.
Another method that I first saw Pat Dorsey using over a year ago was recently published in the current issue of Fly Fisherman. It involves the use of small rubber bands to hold a loop of leader material against polypropylene yarn. Its simple and effective.

While indicators may provide considerable help, there are times when you don't want to use them.

A strike indicator is essential when you can't detect a strike by feeling the fish take, or by seeing your line or leader move. This is usually the case when you're making casts more than 40 feet long into water more than four feet deep. On some heavily fished streams including places like Grey Reef, the fish learn to associate the glowing orange ball with a threat and they become reluctant to feed.

Using an indicator that's too large can sometimes cause more problems than it solves on slick water. A better idea is to grease part of the leader butt with fly floatant to serve as an indicator. As well as being wind resistant and difficult to cast, large indicators are more susceptible to drag than smaller indicators. When the indicator starts to drag it causes the nymph to move unnaturally.

In many instances a strike indicator also functions as a depth regulator, keeping the fly a fixed distance below the surface. If the indicator is not repositioned fishing will suffer.

A strike indicator also drifts faster on the surface than the terminal rig below it which can pull the fly along at an unnatural pace A leader without an indicator slices cleanly through the surface currents, allowing the nymph to drift at the proper speed near the bottom of the stream.

If you depend on an indicator to tell you when you've had a take you're going to miss a lot of fish because the indicator does not react to every take. One needs to see into the water. You might see your leader move, slow down, or change direction in its drift which could be a fish. You might notice a sudden flash or movement deep in the water that could be the take of a fish.

The point is that it's not a good idea to rely entirely on indicators - they're great but not infallible.