People have argued about the ethics of strike indicators
since the first strike indicator was used. Considering
the way that first strike indicator was used, I think I
understand why people might object. First, we need a
You've all heard the crude jokes about the traveling salesman
and the farmer's daughter. The first strike indicator was
the result of such an encounter. It seems the farmer caught
the salesman entertaining his daughter in an indiscrete fashion.
Being a Cajun farmer from Louisiana, it was time to take matters
into his own hands; so the farmer painted the salesman's head
with red barn paint and took him to the swamp.
A passing fisherman asked the Cajun farmer what that red thing
was bobbing in the waves. His reply was, "Dat eez a strike
eendicator. Eef a 'gator takes dee bait, eet lets me know
I hab a bite. Den I strike back when dee eendicator goes
down an' dee hoe fameelee hab 'gator for deener."
As you might guess, the animal rights folks had a fit. They
said it was cruel to subject alligators to that kind of treatment.
In fact, they said the only thing with less nutritional value
than a traveling salesman was a politician since politicians
are mostly hot air and lack any real substance. I think they
were wrong, but we don't discuss the substance I think politicians
are full of here on FAOL. This is a family magazine, for heaven's
I suppose the ethical confusion over using those little bobbers
fly fishermen call "strike indicators" dates back to the traveling
salesman. Since animal rights folks know nothing about fishing
and even less about fisheries management, I can understand how
they would raise a fuss about ethics when they heard fly-fishermen
were using strike indicators on fish. As usual, they don't have
Now, as far as those little bobbers are concerned, I think they
are valuable tools for anyone trying to get a good drift with a
nymph on the end of his/her tippet. They give fly-fishers the
ability to set the depth they want the nymph to drift, provide
a visual indicator of any bites that might otherwise go undetected,
and reduce the amount of slack between the rod tip and the fly if
used properly. What's wrong with that?
I'm sure there are a few folks in this world who object to
little bobbers on a fly leader. Heck, there are folks in
this world who object to fishing in any form. Others object
to bait fishing, spin fishing, (insert your favorite objection
here), etc. Some folks object to fly-fishing with nymphs,
streamers, and even wet flies. Some people actually suggest
that it isn't flyfishing unless a dry fly is on the end of
the tippet. As a matter of fact, some folks are just
In my case, I object to people who have their nose so far
in the air that they would be in trouble if it rained hard.
Getting back to the animal rights crowd, there are some people
in this world who will do anything to think they are better
than someone else. If that means they try to belittle others
for not fishing the way they do, or for fishing at all, then
that is what they'll do. I have about as much time for them
as I do for politicians during an election year.
I'm not sure why some fly-fisherman decided to call little fly
fishing bobbers 'strike indicators.' Maybe it sounded like a
higher form of fishing than the regular bobber crowd to him;
or maybe he thought it was a more accurate description of the
bobber. I hope the answer is the latter and not the former,
but considering the attitudes of some people in this sport,
I won't venture a guess.
I hope this little history lesson has been helpful and maybe
entertaining. Flyfishing is supposed to be fun. Isn't that
why we all started in the first place? I'm sure it won't
prevent some politically minded bigot from looking down his/her
nose at you for doing something they believe they have risen
above, but that's life. The next time a so-called fly-fisher
does that to you, pray for rain. ~ AC