How to fish a Strike Indicator

Instructions for how to setup your fly rod to fish a Strike Indicator. During a recent search of the web, I didn’t find any instructions on how to set up a fly rod to indicator fish. Once you understand this basic setup, it’s easy to modify by adding additional flies, longer leaders and sliding weights.

What do you need?

To start be flexible, I’m sure you have many of these items in your fly fishing vest already. Don’t think you need this exact setup, remember this rig is the beginning for all kinds of options.

  • Indicator, I like the “twist on” style. For a single fly setup a small aerodynamic indicator is works well for casting.
    Fly Fishing Indicator
  • Assortment of small split shot. I like the lead free types without the removal “ears” The split shot needs to pull the line down, yet not pull the indicator under.
  • Fluorocarbon tippet – Fluorocarbon because it virtually disappears underwater and sinks.
  • A nine foot tapered leader, 4X is a good all round size for most trout.
  • Floating line fly line for fishing depths up to 4 feet.

Setup Instructions

  1. Starting at the fly line and attach your leader. A 9′-4X tapered nylon leader is a good general leader. I personally like nail knots for attaching the leader, but loop to loop connections are popular.
  2. Now tie 24 inches of tippet onto the end of the leader. Your objective is to have 3-4 inches of leader material past the knot. This is called the “tag” end. I use a double surgeons knot, it’s fast and easy plus allows you to extend the leader tag beyond the knot.
  3. On the end of the leader tag tie an overhand knot. This keeps your split shot from sliding off.
  4. Tie your fly onto the end of your tippet. I use a clinch knot.
  5. Now it’s time to attach the indicator. As a starting point place the indicator an additional 1/4 onto the total depth of water. So if the water is 2 feet, I add 6 inches and put the indicator 2′ + 6″ up on the leader.
  6. Attach your fly to the end of the tippet and pinch your split shot onto the leader tag.

how to fish strike indicators

How to setup a strike indicator Video

The key to fishing a strike indicator is to have a natural drift. Every cast will require a mend to allow the fly to sink. You’ll actually see the indicator “stand-up” when the fly is drifting correctly. You should feel the fly tick along the bottom. If the fly is getting snagged, slide the indicator down. If you don’t feel the fly tick add more depth by sliding the indicator up.

If the indicator, stops, pauses or dips – strike! Strike often, subtly takes are easily missed.

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