How To Make Fly Fishing Indicators: Beginner-Friendly Guide

To know whether your fish is taking the nymph, you should count on the movements of the fishing line. However, these motions are quite subtle, so how could you recognize them? The strike indicator comes to the rescue.

Suppose you haven’t got one and want to save money by crafting it yourself. Let’s check this article now to learn how to make fly fishing indicators at home. Keep reading!

What Are The Fly Fishing Indicators?

A fly indicator is a floating piece of equipment usually attached to the fishing line. It may make some movements to tell you that the fish has struck the submerged fly.

Its operation is quite similar to a bobber, which is only used in some conventional fishing flies.

But why do you need the fishing indicator? To enhance your success rate of catching fish. This is even more important in water bodies with strong currents, making it hard to identify whether fish have bitten the bait.

Here is more to learn about its advantages:

  • Enhanced strike detection: Thanks to a visual indicator, you can easily detect whether marine creatures have taken your nymph. This leads to more hookups and diminishes missed opportunities.
  • Depth control: With the indicator, you will more likely manage the depth of your nymph’s presentation, enabling it to approach fish in deep water bodies.

How To Make Fly Fishing Indicators?

It’s easy to make homemade fly fishing indicators. You only need to separate a highly visible yarn into 2 parts and then fold them into an indicator. Remember to secure it tightly and fluff it out for increased visibility.

The process is indeed very simple and cost-effective, entailing a few materials and effort, so you don’t need to worry too much.

Keep scrolling down to learn how to make a strike indicator for fly fishing!

The Preparation

It would be best to prepare the following equipment. If you lack one of them, the output might not meet your expectations.

  • Yarn is one of the must-have items involved in the process. However, not every yarn is suitable. You must pick one with high viscosity and contrasting colors with the water’s surface.
  • The marker that could resist water is another item. Yet, it is optional when you have yarns.
  • A pair of scissors to cut yarns.
  • Don’t forget the safety garments, like gloves and eyeglasses, to avert unexpected injuries and protect your health.

The Step-To-Step Process

  • Step 1: Choose a spacious and well-ventilated area where you feel no restrictions when making a DIY fly indicator.
  • Step 2: Use scissors to cut yarn to form a nice indicator. It is up to you; ideally, the length should be 1 to 2 inches.
  • Step 3: Take the yarn and separate it into two different strands. Don’t use too much force. Alternatively, split the fibers apart gently.
  • Step 4: Fold the two separated strands to create a compact and tight indicator. Doing so helps it stay afloat better when contacting the water’s surface.
  • Step 5: Once the yarn is twisted, you make a simple overhand knot at the end of the yarn. Be careful, as a knot that is too tight could distort the yarn’s shape.
  • Step 6: If the yarn has excess parts, trim them nicely to make your braid indicator neater. Secure one end of the yarn with a knot.
  • Step 7: Pull the yarn gently to fluff it out. This action enhances its visibility, especially in deep water bodies. However, if you fear your visible indicator doesn’t stand out, paint a waterproof marker onto its body.
  • Step 8: You must attach your indicator to the fly leader via a loop-to-loop connection. That means you thread it through one loop until it passes the leader.
  • Step 9: Make some final amendments by adjusting the indicator’s size, which depends on the fishing environment. For instance, choose a small one if the water is crystal-like. Meanwhile, a larger indicator suits the choppy water more.
  • Step 10: Now, it’s time to cast your homemade fly fishing strike indicator and wait for your fish species to bite the bait. Good luck!

How To Use The Fly Fishing Indicators?

First, you must look for a suitable style indicator for your needs. As mentioned earlier, a colored indicator might suit the fast-moving currents, while a natural-colored one should be used in a calm river.

After choosing the perfect type of strike indicator, you must attach it carefully to the leader through the loop-to-loop connection. However, it’s not supposed to end there.

Indeed, you must switch its length and size based on the position of a nymph or an artificial fishing bait in the water body. Then, cast your nymph rig nicely and see it drifting away. Now, all you have to do is wait for the fish to bite the nymph.

If you feel any slight movements from the indicator, don’t strike it immediately. Instead, be patient; when it shakes strongly, use all your force to strike the fishing rod. Congratulations on your success.

When And Where To Use A Fly Fishing Indicator?

There are no restrictions on the fly fishing season when you should use an indicator. You could use it anytime if you like. However, the fishing indicator doesn’t display many functions for some shallow water bodies.

That’s why anglers often use it when they reach a deep water area with strong and erratic currents. Under this circumstance, you’d better attach the indicator further from the leader’s end.

The Best Fly Fishing Indicators

Here are the four quality fly fishing indicators for you to consider.

Yarn Indicators

At the top position on this list is the strike indicator yarn. It is super-sensitive to fish strikes and nibbles whether the fish is small or big. Additionally, its design is straightforward to use. That’s why both amateur and seasoned anglers usually use this type.

Foam Indicators

Like yarn, an indicator made of foam is also light and nearly doesn’t affect your fishing cast. It can float well on the water without needing a fly floatant, better than the yarn indicator.

However, you may have difficulty attaching it to the line if your fingers are numb.

Bubble Rigs

A bubble rig consists of a hollow plastic ball resembling a small balloon. It can easily identify the fish’s movement when they have taken a nymph.

It’s very sensitive and easy to stay buoyant. It also comes in varying colors, enhancing its visibility underwater.


For fishermen who aren’t into some kinds of suspension indicators, sighters may be a cool idea. Like the bubble rig, it has diverse colors, from yellow, pink, chartreuse, and white to red.

Of course, it can easily stay afloat and make your fly representation more efficient.

Top 5 Tips For Nymphing With Strike Indicators Efficiently

Here are 5 helpful tips for successful nymph fly fishing with the help of a fly indicator.

Fish Your Fly First

Normally, people focus on the indicator and forget to look at the fly. You won’t likely see your fly sinking in some shallow or clear water conditions.

Suppose the fly still drifts on the surface. In that case, you won’t likely catch any fish species if you only keep an eye on the buoyancy indicator.

Mend to the Indicator

Sometimes, despite a bad casting, you could still catch some spooky fish. However, an improper presentation cannot bring this result.

That’s why you must try to produce drag-free and subtle presentations instead of focusing too much on how to cast the indicator effectively.

Lift the Indicator When Setting the Hook

Paying attention to the angle when casting the indicator is very important. If you set the hook too low, it can impact your fishing performance greatly. This is due to the slow-down speed of casting.

Short Drifts Are Best On Foot

This tip comes in handy when you fish on the boat. If you cast a nymph on the stationary foot, you’d better take short drifts instead of long ones, which can be explained by the missed hook set.

Stay Connected

It would be best to stay connected to the stream’s current. If the water flows to the right, please cast the fly in the same direction. This way, your nymph isn’t very erratic and remains stable, or at least during erratic currents.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Depth Should Fly Fishing Indicators Be?

The perfect depth is from 1.5 to 2 times the water depth above your fishing fly. This ensures maximum visibility, and your indicator is not greatly affected by strong water flows.

What Are The Signs Of A Damaged Fishing Indicator?

Several signs of bad indicators include unusual odor, size adjustment difficulty, loose components, or visible cracks. If the damage is severe, please go to a reliable fly shop and purchase a new one. It seems more cost-effective than repair.

The Bottom Line

Now, you should know how to make fly fishing indicators. After reading this post, you will see that making a DIY indicator isn’t as hard as you expected.

With simple items like yarns, scissors, etc., you can completely conquer this challenge and create a perfect one. Hope you will nail it!