How to Tie an Indicator Rig for Trout Fishing
By George Revel
While dry fly fishing is the purest form of fly fishing, the facts are that trout feed underwater at least 90% of the time. This fact alone is enough to tie on an indicator rig to catch more fish. The indicator rig is less enjoyable to cast and takes a good bit of effort to set up correctly. There are many ways to set up an indicator rig, but I will write about the most effective of all of the methods.
This indicator rig is my go to rig for the McCloud River, Upper Sacramento River, The Lower Sacramento River, and The Lower Yuba River.
*** If you do not know the river well; walk to the water before setting up your indicator rig ***
*** Lubricate all of your knots with a little spit for your indicator rig ***
*** Use more twists on your clinch knot when using fluorocarbon ***
*** This is designed for using thinga-mabobbers ***
1) Tie on your adjustable section of your Indicator rig.
When setting up my indicator rig I usually start with a cut back tapered 7.5 foot 3x leader for my indicator rig. Run your hands up the leader starting at the thin end of the leader. At some point you will feel the leader to start taper. You want cut the leader right before this taper starts happening. Loop to loop the leader to your fly line or butt section. The length of this section will determine the distance you can adjust your indicator. This also acts as an energy buffer when mending your line. Once your flies have sunk the last thing you want to do is move you indicator.
2) Set up your average depth for indicator rig.
Look at the water and take note of how of deep it is. You want to be a little longer than your average depth… trust your gut. I would say more often than not this section is at least 6ft. Measure your arm span and pulling off the right amount of tippet for your indicator rig is much easier. I generally use 3 or 4x fluorocarbon for this section of my indicator rig. Fluorocarbon is abrasion resistant and sinks better than mono. Tie this to your cut back tapered leader with a triple surgeons knot.
3) Tie on the tippet for the first fly of your indicator rig.
Here you want 12-18 inches of 1x lighter tipper than what you used as depth control section. The longer this section the more the fly, depending on weight, will float up. Tie this to you depth control section with a triple surgeon. This knot will serve as a stop for your split shot.
4) Tie on the first fly of your Indicator rig.
Use a clinch not to tie on the first fly of your indicator rig. I generally put the larger or heavier fly first on my indicator rigs. Use more wraps on your clinch knot when using fluorocarbon.
5) Attach dropper fly section for your indicator rig.
Use a clinch not to tie on the dropper fly tippet to the bend of your first fly. Use 1x lighter than whatever you used for your top fly. This ensures that whenever you get snagged your indicator rig you will only break off what you have to.
6) Attach the dropper fly of your indicator rig.
Use a clinch not to tie on the dropper fly of your indicator rig.
7) Add split shot to your indicator rig.
Whatever you were thinking about add more. I usually use at least 2 bb’s on my indicator rig.
8) Attach your Indicator.
Loop on the indicator on the fly line side just above the knot of the tapered leader and depth control section of you indicator rig.
Congratulations! You just built a highly effective indicator rig. When you need to get deeper simply move you indicator closer to your fly line. Conversely, when you need to fish shallower move your indicator closer to your split shot. Make sure to give your flies plenty of time to sink. To do this, cast your line upstream and make sure to give it a good mend. Any drag will make your flies float to the surface.