Which Strike Indicator?

Love them or loathe them, the use of a strike indicator or bung can make a huge difference to your fly fishing results whether it is on the river or lake.

The question is which one do you use? The answer is not that clear cut – each has it’s own advantages. In this blog we review eight popular fly fishing indicators and examine their pro’s and con’s.

A selection of fly fishing strike indicators

A selection of fly fishing strike indicators.

Fulling Mill Fish Pimps – £3.99 per pack of 6.

Made of hard foam in two sizes, the aerodynamically shaped Fish Pimps by Fulling Mill have been around for donkeys years – the reason why? They are very effective and represent good value.

Fulling Mill fish pimps - Large size

Fulling Mill fish pimps – Large size.

Pro’s – The large size casts well on stillwater; it floats high and is easy to see. This makes them perfect for fishing nymphs and buzzers at a decent range. Can also support fairly heavy river nymphs. The Mini pimp size is ideal for small streams and brooks where delicate presentation is needed and a small single fly used. Re-usable and supplied in a handy tube.

Con’s – Can potentially fly off the leader if not attached correctly (always ensure you twist each opposing end of the rubber tube in the opposite direction). For river angling with ultra heavy bugs they may not be buoyant enough to support real bottom dredgers.

Air-Lock Strike indicators – £7.49 per pack of 3.

Originally from the USA, these indicators were primary used by Steellheaders for presenting the ballast heavy flies needed in strong and deep river flows.

The Airlock indicator

The Airlock indicator.

Pro’s – Best attachment system on market, a rubber grommet and screw thread set-up means you can attach and slide up leader with ease. No chance of them coming off or shifting position. The buoyancy is unrivaled, allowing you support to fish a full team of heavy river bugs, making these perfect for winter grayling. Also ideal for stillwater trout fisheries with teams of buzzers.

Con’s – Not that great for extreme distance casting. Suits short to medium range best. Size and shape means it can splashes fairly heavily so best suited to deeper, more turbulent water if using on the river for trout.

Fulling Mill Strike yarn indicator
– £2.99 per pack of 6.

These indicators are made of pre-treated siliconised yarn (poly yarn), with black, white and orange supplied in the packet to suit all light conditions. Fitted with a rubber O ring, these can be easily attached by pushing a loop of your leader through the O ring, and then back over itself. You can then slide up and down the leader.

Fulling Mill yarn indicators

Fulling Mill yarn indicators.

Pro’s – Buoyant out of packet, the shuttlecock design makes for good casting. These are pretty decent for presentation as they do not land with a big splash. Ideal for fishing buzzer and nymphs on stillwater, as well as river trout flies.

Con’s – After a while, can need fishing floatant application to keep it afloat. Not really one not for supporting heavily weighted flies or heavy river bugs

New Zealand strike indicator – £6.99 Tool with 2 wool colours and sleeve.

This type of indicator is favoured by anglers looking to present in as natural and delicate fashion as possible – perfect for spooky fish. The NZ indicator system is supplied with a needle tool, some tubing and two samples of a naturally buoyant sheep’s wool. Additional colours and more tubing need to be purchased separately.

New Zealand strike indicator

New Zealand strike indicator.

Pro’s – Lands like thistledown, unobtrusive. Perfect for presenting small nymphs in skinny water on the river. Does not impede casting in any way, so distance and turnover are very good. The slimline tubing attachment is much less bulky than an O ring system.

Con’s – Can be fiddly to apply whilst on the water, especially in cold and windy conditions. Needs treatment with floatant. Will not support heavier flies. Extras mount up price and tool easy to loose.

Loon strike out indicator yarn – £3.50 per dispenser.

This yarn is popular in the USA with river anglers. Pull off the required length, and attach to your leader with a small rubber band (not supplied) or simply tie the leader round it.

Loon strike out yarn

Loon strike out yarn.

Pro’s – Good value for the amount of yarn supplied. Delicate presentation. Best fished as part of a river nymph set up.

Con’s – Could do with being easier to attach. Realistically, you wont end up re-using the yarn so can end up throwing a fair amount of it away after use.

Self adhesive foam indicators – £3.95 for a sheet of 30.

This type of bung is one of the first developed. Made of buoyant plasterzote foam, they were incredibly popular a decade or two ago.

Adhesive foam indicators

Adhesive foam indicators.

Pro’s – A firm favourite. Quick and easy to attach, simply fold over and squeeze onto the line. They are also inexpensive. Stick firmly to leader so no danger of them flying off with a vigorous cast. Suited to river fishing or stillwater with smaller patterns at any range.

Con’s – Cannot be re-used or moved up the leader without the indicator loosing stickiness. Not the best for large, heavy flies.

Airflo Float-Do
– £2.99 per tub.

A pliable, moldable brightly coloured floating putty, Float-Do is a little used indicator material but can be very effective. Float-Do is soft in the tub but hardens once in contact with water. Also available as Light-Do – the only strike indicator that glows in the dark!

Airflo Float-Do

Airflo Float-Do.

Pro’s – Highly visible, It can fish any weight of fly – simply add more Float-Do do until your heavy flies are supported or use tiny blobs along the leader for fishing a micro nymph on a French leader in skinny water. Re-usable and simplicity itself to apply.

Con’s – Can fly off the leader on long high energy distance casts. Best for river or marginal stillwater fishery work.

Use a Bung Fly – £1.40 Each

An orange bung fly

An orange bung fly.

Pro’s – Good visibility. Huge benefit of the ability to catch a fish (we have all had times when a stupid fish tries to eat your indicator!! Good for long range casting.

Con’s – Cannot easily slide up and down leader for a quick depth change. Can become water logged. Will not be buoyant enough for super-heavy patterns.