by Guide Blog


Nymphing is the ‘in thing’ it seems to me that everyone is at it the world over, wherever you find running water, you’ll find an angler nymphing it!

The basics are simple enough, and you can find out more here. You’re using monofilament, nylon or indeed a very, very thin fly line to deliver your nymphs to an area where you expect to find a fish, or two! In short, we have a length of line, usually dictated to by the length of the rod, an indicator, your tippet length, your flies, easy?

Having talked at length about leader set up and how to go about it in other blogs, I thought I’d take the time to highlight a VERY important part of the leader’s construction, the indicator. The indicator or sighter which is built into the leader is usually a bright, in-your-face material, and this provides visual cues for any takes as the flies are drifted in the current. It seems that most of us automatically pick out a HI-VIZ indicator as we often feel that this is the one that will stick out against most backgrounds, offering us, the angler the ultimate visual aid.

Like most of us, I often use this as my default; after all, it is often the best option in a whole host of fishing situations. Let me talk you through them. Flat light and dull days will see this bright material work it’s magic the best; it sticks out like a sore thumb in these conditions. For winter fishing, and for use on dull days, this would be my choice of indicator.

I’d also highlight this one for when I’m ‘high sticking’, and my line has the backdrop of the far bank, a dark background makes the bright indicator really visible. I’d say that as long as you have something that the line contrasts against you’re fine. But, there are other occasions when bright colours virtually disappear, and in those situations, I turn to the most basic of contrasting colours, black and white!

We tend to nymph at range, and this means that we are casting upriver or up and across. When this is the case, our indicator is in the foreground against the surface of the river. On bright sunny days, which is what will be most prevalent, a Hi-Viz indicator gets lost pretty quickly against the surface glare of the river. Bright foreground against a bright background offers very little to nothing in the way of contrast. This contrast is key if we are to see any takes on the sighter.

I’ll put good money on the table that you’ve been in this situation before. Trying as best you can to see a bright indicator against the surface water, ‘pigeoning’ your head this way and that to see if you can pick it out? 

For most of my summer fishing or indeed when you get a harsh winter light, I prefer to use a length of the black and white RIO Two-Tone Indicator Tippet. It comes in three different sizes, so it can be easily incorporated into any leader set up you choose to use while still keeping that smooth taper. Like the pink and yellow tippet, it has 8-inch sections of alternating colour, just black and white.

These basic colours show up far better for me in bright fishing conditions, harsh light means glare, and the black sections stand out against this background. It punches and is far more visible than any other colour. When a cloud comes over the sun, or you move into a wooded section of the river, white comes into play!

As with most things in fishing, it pays to think about what you’re using and why the small things make the difference! So the next time you’re moving your body this way and that trying to pick out your hi-viz indicator section to try and see any takes, make the switch, it’s simple and effective!


  • Leave one-inch tag ends where the indicator attaches to both leader and tippet; this aids visibility.
  • Don’t use and excessive length, you only need to see two colours. An indicator needs to be held off the water for most fishing situations. Longer length, the more difficult it becomes to hold up.
  • For fishing with a lightweight single fly in slow-moving water, try applying grease to the indicator and use it as a suspension device.
  • Curl the indicator around a straw or pen and hold it over a steaming kettle, so it retains its memory. Again, this acts as a floating strike indicator, and it also allows for more elasticity to cushion strikes on light tippet.


You may also like