Fly Fishing Techniques
Tricking Steelhead
Indicator Nymph Fishing
by Christopher Tobias
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
Fishing Journal
March 2014 Issue
T
steelhead using an indicator, and how I rig my rod when out on the water.

Depending on what river I am fishing, the total length of my leader is never longer than my rod. That’s from the indicator to
the fly. Coming from the fly line, I like to use a heavy butt section of line (15-20lb maxima) to help me roll over my leader. I will
then use a blood knot to connect my next sections of line, and use approximately an 18” piece of 6lb or 8lb fluorocarbon
depending on the clarity of the water and the flow of the river. I prefer to use the foam style tear drop indicators that slide on
your line, but you can use any indicator that suits your needs.


















I don’t like to use a lot of weight when indicator fishing, just enough to allow my weights to tick along the bottom of the river. I
also like to spread my pieces of shot apart. My first piece of shot will be an inch or two above the blood knot connecting my
fluorocarbon leader, the next will be 8-10” above that, and the last will be another 8-10” above that. I also increase the size
of my shot as I work up the leader towards my indicator. I usually end with a size AB as the heaviest. Again, this all depends
on the flow of the water.

Once you are all rigged up and ready to go, the next step is to find a nice fishy run and begin working the water. Just like
nymph fishing your favorite trout stream, you want to work down stream covering as much of the water as you can reach
effectively. If I am working a run that I know should be holding fish, I will change up my offerings after working down through
it, and work it again.

Don’t overthink things, and keep them as simple as you can. We’re talking about catching steelhead here, not rocket surgery
or brain science. Although, sometimes figuring out what they want can seem like any of those.
ricking steelhead is no different from tricking any trout, or fish for that matter. Put something in front of them that
looks appetizing, and hold on for the ride. The technique you use is really up to you. Some people prefer to
swing for steelhead, and some prefer nymphing for them. I’m going to touch on the topic of nymphing for any