Golfing for Trout?

By Jeff Durniak

Strike indicators are sort of like golf clubs. In both sports, we must use the right tool for the shot at hand. Since Indi’s are small and light, I usually carry a large selection and pick the right “club” for my salmonid shot. Here’s a brief list of my clubs as I “golf” for trout through another year astream. Come and join me on the course.

  • Deep, cold pools = a ¾ inch round, foam Airlock brand indicator. It has a screw top that allows quick adjustment for water depth, and it can float a bunch of split shot!
  • Cold, shallow, and faster water = a four color-long piece of Orvis 0X tactical sighter tippet (supple monofilament) for my Euronymphing rig. I pre-rig a few of these sighters with tippet rings, roll them up, and carry them in an empty leader bag. See my prior Angler Magazine column for Euronymphing basics.
  • Shallow spring pools and runs with naive fish= a bright orange Lightning Strike brand foam football, sized to match the freight to float. The surgical tubing in the slit makes water depth adjustments quick and easy.
  • Same as #3, but smarter fish = just change the color to white to match stream bubbles and foam, so the Indi doesn’t spook the fish.
  • Flat water and nervous fish = a poly yarn Indi that won’t land with a loud “plop” like the Airlocks and footballs do. A soft landing and quiet drift will let your rig sneak up on its targets.
  • Spring searching = a buoyant dry to match the current hatch while floating the nymph or soft hackle below it. Pick the dry in your box with the most hackle and thickest wings for best flotation. Popular “bobbers with a hook in them” include parachute Adams and cahills, elk hair caddis, and stimulators.
  • Late spring, low water nymphing = a tiny bead of Orvis or Loon strike putty.
  • My “summer stealth Indi” = a big yellow stimulator, often cast and drifted downstream so the two flies (and not the leader) are the first objects entering the trout’s sight window. Other UO staffers really like the chubby Chernobyl.
  • “Universal indicator” = a #14 parachute Adams. When Jimmy and I are clueless and searching, whether here, the Smokies, Montana, or Argentina, we revert to “Ole Reliable!” Everything eats an Adams (or the dropper under it). Pick one with extra hackle and a thick para-post for better flotation.

That’s my “golf bag” of strike indicators. Read those trout “greens” carefully, select the right club, and take a shot at the hole. Hopefully, these tips will help your fly fishing score this spring and beyond.

You can find Jeff Durniak at Unicoi Outfitters. Stop in or call the Helen shop at (706-878-3083) or our Clarkesville store on the square (706-754-0203) if we can help you further. After all, we are pretty darn good trouting caddies!