We just recovered from a flood a couple weeks ago and Monday we were hit again with more water and more force than before. Everyone in the Fishing Creek valley who lives near the water or low land has suffered loss of some kind, some have lost homes. EMS was busy evacuating people from homes and roof tops with hovercraft, helicopters, even front end loaders. For this normally sleepy little valley, it was surreal to see us on national news. It will take some time for us to bounce back, but we will. And before you know it, trout will be rising and flies will be cast. It’s what we do.
I get a lot of questions from clients and fly fishing friends on what is my favorite strike indicators, split shots, floatant and other fly fishing essentials. So I decided to make a list of some of my favorite things. Keep in mind that I like “simple and easy.”
STRIKE INDICATORS – The most asked question about strike indicators I'm asked is: “Should I use them” Easy answer “YES”
Reasons: Easier to detect subtle strikes.
You can adjust the indicator to the depth you want the fly to be at. (Be sure to move the indicator up or down the leader as you move to different water depths in pools and riffles).
You will not hang up on the bottom as often with strike indicators as you would without them. Thus you don't loose as many flies but more importantly you do not disturb the pool trying to get free.
Favorite Indicators – First of all the there are a lot of different types of strike indicators on the market today. And each have their advantages and disadvantages. Over the years I have tried several different type of indicators and I narrowed it down to two that I use.
Thing-a-bobbers – These are basically a plastic ball that come in different sizes. Easy to use and easy to slide up and down your leader. One disadvantage is they do kink and twist the leader. I use them mostly for guiding beginner fly fishermen in small pools and riffles.
Australian Wool – My favorite strike indicator and the only one I personally use. They float well but you do need to treat the wool with a floatant. Easy to slide up and down the leader and they don't kink and twist the leader.
I pretreat the wool with a dry fly floatant called “Agra XXX” and I attached the wool strike indicator to the leader using dental rubber bands. You simply form a loop in your leader and twist the loop around the rubber band five times. Insert Australian Wool into the loop and slide the rubber band up to the wool. The depth of the water and the weight of the flies determines how much wool you use. If you need to add more just open the loop by sliding the rubber band down and adding more wool.
Australian wool comes in an assortment of colors. Depending on the day certain colors are easier to see on the water then others. It might come as a surprise but personally I prefer black on most days.
SPLIT SHOTS – Several years ago a guide friend introduced me to “Black Bird Split Shots. They meet my “simple and easy” rule. They come in a convenient dispenser with two sizes of shot per package, one size on each end and a split soft rubber top to easily dispense the shot from either end. BB-1 and BB-3 in one pack and BB-2 and BB-4 in the other.
I believe you are only one split shot away from catching fish. I prefer these four sizes so I can add or take off a split shot depending on the depth of the pool I'm fishing. I always fish tandem flies and usually position the split shots between the two flies.
FLOATANT – All of my dry flies I pre-treat with Agra XXX. Simply submerge the fly into the solution and let dry. I also use this on my Australian Wool strike indicator.
After I catch a fish I dry the fly with drying crystals and then treat the fly with a powder like Frog Fanny. I also use only Frog Fanny when fishing emergers or dry flies with poly or cdc wings.
LINE AND FLY SINK – Most fly fishermen I've talked to never even heard of it. I prefer to use line sink instead of a split shot on my nymphs in low water conditions and when fishing a nymph behind a dry fly as a drop fly.
When fishing a dry fly to select trout I will put some line sink a foot above my fly to help hide the leader.
LEADERS AND TIPPET – I like RIO mono leaders 9 ft. 4x. They have a strong butt section and easily turn over even my heavier flies. I attached two feet of RIO tippet to the leader. As the tippet length shortens to the leader I simply add two more feet of tippet. This way I never go into my leader I simply add tippet to lengthen it.
I prefer RIO fluorocarbon tippet in sizes from 2x to 7x in my sling pack. Fluorocarbon vs. Mono tippet debate will go on forever. But I do prefer using fluorocarbon tippet over mono most of the times.
These are some of the things I have learned over the many years of fly fishing that just helps make the day on the water more enjoyable and more successful. Most of these things I learned from fellow guides, fly fishing friends, and clients that I have had the privilege of spending time on the water with.
What a Week!
Last week at Reel Action Camp on the Kanektok was the best week of silver salmon fishing we've ever had. One big fish after the other, anglers were landing 50+ fish a day averaging 8-18 pounds. It was fast and furious, non-stop, action and a good part of it was on top skating mice and gurglers. Along with silvers, we had pinks, dollies, rainbows, and chum. Barry is still editing photos and there'll be more to come, but here's a quick look at some shots from our guests.