Finding the right strike indicator has always been a challenge for me. When I lived in Montana, I relied on my lucky bobber, a big orange corkie.
I'm sure I spooked a lot of fish with that bobber. I remember presenting a tandem nymph rig, with my big lucky bobber, over fish rising to midges on the Madison River. The bobber would instantly put the fish down. It took a few trips that spring before I learned that rising fish don't respond well to big orange bobbers floating over their heads. The midge hatch was fantastic that year starting in February. Finally, in early May, I started using small dry flies, which led to some success.
A few years later I started spending several weeks each summer fishing the Bow River in Alberta. I noticed that individual fish would rise sporadically in some riffles and inside seams. Upon seeing these random free rising fish, I would continue to cast my hopper/dropper rig or my tandem nymph rig with bobber. I never had much luck catching these fish. Finally, I learned to immediately change rigs upon seeing a fish rise. I would nervously clip off my large hopper, add 3 feet of 4x, and then tie on a size 14 caddis pattern. 90% of the time those random risers would respond to my caddis emerger within the first three casts. Many of these fish turned out to be quite large, including a 23 inch brown I caught on an elk hair caddis just outside of Calgary.
Nowadays I use the Thingamabobber when fishing rivers. It comes in many sizes and colors (including black, my favorite), and it floats and casts beautifully.
The quick-release strike indicators above work well for fishing chironomids and leeches in stillwaters. These indicators can be purchased from Phil Rowley's Fly Craft Angling Shop or Waters West in Port Angeles. With these lovely bobbers, you can fish a fly 25' or more below the indicator. The only problem arises when they don't release properly. Nevertheless, I carry a baggy full of them everywhere I fish.
Of course my favorite way to fish is naked, or with no strike indicator at all. This method is particularly effective on stillwaters in water more than 10' deep. You feel the strike just as often as you see it, and there is something very satisfying about fishing sans indicator.
In my next post, I will reveal my homemade yarn indicators.