A Look at Strike Indicators: Part Two

A Look at Strike Indicators: Part Two

This time around we’re going to discuss the two most popular strike indicators on the market . The “Thingamabobber “and the “Air-Lock”. Both work using the same basic approach – a hollow plastic sphere that floats. Both come in a range of sizes and colors. And both are reusable and never need floatant. Still there are “pros” and “cons” to a consider. Lets dive in.

The   “Air-Lock’s” claim to fame is its unique way of attaching to the leader.  On top of the each sphere is a slotted thread. You place the leader in the slot and then, using a small supplied washer and nut, you tighten down. This snugs up the indicator to your leader, holds well, is quick to adjust, and never puts a kink in the leader. Wonderful stuff. Now for the rub. When working with cold, wet hands, it is easy to drop the small washer or nut in the stream. Ugh, I know from personal experience. Good luck finding them little critters or replacing them.  

Slotted Thread System

Recently “Air-Lock” released a new version. It utilizes the same attachment method,  but now the sphere is made out of biodegradable foam. Good idea. If dropped on the stream it will degrade over time. Thoughtful touch. Unfortunately the cost shot up too. Ouch. I felt the original “Air-Lock” was a little pricey. The new one is even more so. Frankly, in my opinion  this going to greatly hurt sales.   



This brings us to the very popular “Thingamabobber”. Priced more reasonably. Simply loops on your leader. Works well, but is a bit of a nuisance to adjust up and down, and during the course of a day may kink the leader a hair. I always carry a leader straightener. It pretty much solves the issue. But a new version called the “jam-stop” comes with an attached peg that you may like better. Also note, there are several videos on YouTube offering tips on leader setups for the “Thingamabobber”, including using the Frog Hair Indicator Retainers. Check them out for more info.



My streamside box with indicators and split shot

Overall, I think the “Thingamabobber” is the winner. But whether you pick it or the “Air-Lock” be sure to purchase a range of sizes. You’ll need then to properly support different size flies. But always use the smallest indicator that works. It will give you that best sensitivity to a strike.  Besides a selection of sizes, you should have a couple of colors to choose from. White indicators are fine but blend into foam lines making them hard to see, especially in low light. For that reason I use a marker to put some color stripes into them. Neon colors are easy to see, but some feel they may spook fish. I’ve seen times, however, when trout actually strike at a bright colored indicators. If that happens, consider removing the indicator, nymph and any split shot. Then tie on a bright colored dry fly such as yellow belly Stimulator or Hopper.  You may catch that fish. Okay, onward to part three.  


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