Fly Fishing Articles on Steelhead, Salmon, & Trout
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|An Indicator Riding the Seam.
Using an Indicator to Detect Strikes
Winter steelhead fishing is primarily done in the bottom third of the water column. The fish use the
rocks and underwater obstructions to rest and move upstream. If the water is warm, as in early fall,
spring, and summer, skaminia steelhead can be taken on the surface or near the surface, but that
topic is another article.
High-sticking, indicator fishing is an ideal way to present dead drifting flies to steelhead in resting
lies. By keeping the fly line off of the water and using an indicator, you can deliver the fly very naturally
to wintering fish. The indicator is usually positioned on the leader one and a half lengths the water depth from
any added weight or the fly. Using the indicator also allows the use of less added weight, because the indicator reduces
the line drag on the water surface. Using less weight usually means less snags as well.
When casting further, such that the fly line cannot be kept off of the water, mending and/or adding s-curves to the fly line
will prevent indicator drag. The ideal drift is having the indicator moving slightly slower than the river's current. A tight line or belly
in the fly line, will cause drag and then the fly will be moving faster than other objects in the water, making it look unnatural.
Indicator fishing has its advantages in the winter. Since the take is visual, keeping your hands in gloves is a possibility, plus, you
can fish softer, slower water, with virutally no weight and let the current deliver the fly to the fish. Also, when the water is 33 degrees,
many takes are missed becuase the take is so slight and your fingers sensitivity is reduced. If you see an unnatural twitch in the indicator,
lift slightly, if there's weight, continue to lift and you'll find a fish. Otherwise, drop the rod and continue with the drift.
Give indicator-fly fishing a try. You'll be amazed how many takes you missed and how fun it can be to visually see the strike.