How To Fish Stillwaters

July 28th, 2003

Stillwaters, lakes, ponds and reservoirs are the most underutilized fisheries in the North America. Why? Because the average fly fisher doesn't know how to fish them, or where to start. Stay tuned, you too can master stillwaters! ~ LadyFisher

Perfect Strike Indicator For Stillwaters

By B.C. Nick, British Columbia, Canada

I experiment constantly and have found that a modified strike indicator is a very useful method for those who fish still water. I find that most still-water fishers just use a floating fly line when chironomid fishing and spend countless hours fishing the wrong depth of water; as fishing using an indicator at a depth of more than twelve feet is a horror story, so they just don't do it. I know! In the past having lost many fish that broke me off while I was attempting to remove my indicator while playing the fish, I came across this method and have used it ever since.

So you are on a lake with only your floating fly line and you can't get down to where the fish are holding and feeding -what can you do? Using a strike indicator in over twelve feet of water means that you have to get the indicator off of your fly line without breaking off the fish or you can't land it. I have personally found it can be done, but I do not recommend, as it is always the fish of a lifetime that will for sure break you off.

Now I personally, like Marv, recommend a fast-sinking line but without one - if you wish to fish a chironomid over twelve feet down this is how you do it. For tools you need a drill with a small drill bit (I use a 5/64ths bit) or preferably the tiny bits that you can get for free from any dentist; thin dowel 1/8 or larger depending on the size of the hole in your strike indicator (the dowel has to be slightly larger in diameter than the hole in your strike indicator) and 80 grit sand paper. I make my own strike indicators out of wine bottle corks that you can get at any good homebrew store - or out of balsa wood which is lighter, but more brittle, as shaping my own and painting them is very easy and saves a few bucks, but you don't need to do this - just buy big strike indicators.

You cut the dowel into approximately 1 inch segments and drill a hole through the centre of each lengthwise (you will get the hang of this quickly) but those that don't work-that you misalign - so that the hole comes out the side - throw away as dowel is cheap. Take your sandpaper and fashion the dowel into a cone so that it fits snugly, leaving 1/3 of the length to protrude from the strike indicator for something to hold onto as with any strike indicator. When fishing you first ascertain the depth of the lake using whatever method you wish - let's say thirty feet.

You tie in regular mono and add five feet of tippet material. Thread your shaped dowel and your strike indicator onto your line and snug it down lightly while you tie on your fly. You then pinch on a split shot slightly larger in diameter than the hole in your strike indicator so that the strike indicator will not slide beyond it, being careful that the split shot will not sink your strike indicator, but heavy enough to take your line and fly down.

Now this part takes a little experimenting but is not difficult. Pull the shaped dowel out of the strike indicator and from below your shaped dowel create a loop in your leader so that when you push the dowel back into your strike indicator the loop will protrude-say the width of our finger. You now press your dowel into you strike indicator and by pulling on the leader below the strike indicator adjust the loop so that it does not loop over the dowel and is in tightly enough to stay in place.

Getting enough tension will become obvious to you very quickly because at this point hold the leader above and below your indicator and give it a quick pull and it will break loose - sliding down until it reaches your split shot. That's all there is too it! For extreme depths you simply lower your weighted setup until your indicator is floating on the surface and if in a float tube simply fin away a little. From a boat just stay anchored and wait. If you are fishing at less depth and are casting this setup then the right tension is more important; so that you are not having your indicator coming loose and sliding down your line.

With a little practice I have found this method virtually foolproof and is a lot of fun. Over a day on a lake the trout will, depending on the amount of sunlight-cloud cover-hatches-wind, move up or down in the water column and using your modified strike indicator a floating fly line can fish virtually any depth. B.C.Nick ~ B.C.Nick

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