Trouts Journal

Know Your Gear // Understanding Strike Indicators

Ivan Orsic / Sep 3, 2021

In the modern day of angling, these little plastic objects have become synonymous with fly fishing. In the day of high-level marketing and advertising, it is easy to get a little lost in the noise and forget the fact that this little piece of plastic or yarn is nothing more than a bobber. It does not matter what you want to call it, a bobber, indicator, floatation device...or even the hyper-technical term strike indicator at the end of the day the one on your fly rod is nothing more than the one attached to the Ugly Stick squirreled away in your garage. And look there is nothing wrong with that. Why? Because...they help you or anyone for that matter catch more fish, especially if you are not an expert or fan of Euro Nymphing.

Since there are so many different options to choose from we are going to dive into these little plastic delights in order for you to help you understand how they work and the advantages and disadvantages of each one.


Arguably the most popular strike indicator on the market, the Thingamabobber was the first edition of a closed-cell plastic bobber. These little guys come in 4 different sizes here at the shop, large (1"), medium (3/4"), or small (1/2"). These little balloons of plastic are highly visible and can hold up some of the heaviest nymphs in your fly box. Also, these bad boys come in a wide variety of colors which comes in handy when encountering different water situations. The downside of these balloons of plastic is that they tend to slide down on thin tippets and they make a pretty large splash when they hit the water, and are a touch difficult when casting in the wind.

Air-Lock Strike Indicators

These foam style bobbers are relatively new on the scene and in 2020 they came out with a highly eco-friendly version. These new Air-Locks are biodegradable, 30% lighter, and can hold up 25% more suspended weight in the water. When it comes to strike indicators these are probably the most innovative strike indicators on the market. These strike indicators are years better than the thingamabobber in my opinion, mainly because of their locking-nut feature, once screwed on you can be certain that this will not slide down your tippet. These are highly visible in all water situations and land a touch softer when compared to the thingamabobber. The downside to these are that in the event that you lose your locking nut this tool is virtually worthless, difficult to cast in the wind, and a little heavy when casting in normal conditions. Another thing that is worth mentioning is that once you remove these off your tippet your line is typically kinked at a 90-degree angle.

Palsa Pinch-On Floats

If you can imagine a highly floatable sticker that you would use for fly fishing this my friends is it. These little stickers are probably the most simple ways to attach a strike indicator to your fly line. Why? Well because they legititmently stick onto your desired section of tippet. This little guy holds it stick surprisingly well and is perfect for when stealth is key for spooky trout. However, the downside to these Pinch-On floats is that every time you want to change the location of them along your section of tippet you have to discard the current Pinch-On. And, because of this it kinda makes these strike indicators a one-trick pony and the worst part is that they are not reusable.

New Zealand Strike Indicator

Strike indicators such as the New Zealand Strike indicator are my absolute favorite. They present the highest visibility out of the entire lineup and are pretty much perfect in all water situations you will find yourself in. They hold their buoyancy very well, are easy to attach, and land on the water very softly. Oh, I almost forgot that these strike indicators cast very well in the wind. However, since these are yarn-based products they do not repel water very well, this means you must pre dress these products with floatant before fishing. Honestly, this is the biggest deterrent simply because these things use ALOT of floatant and unfortunately floatant isn't necessarily a cheap item. Other than this, these strike indicators are pretty perfect.

Loon Biostrike

Probably the most popular putty on the market, the Loon Biostrike putty is something unlike anything mentioned previously. This is a fantastic alternative to carrying various sizes of strike indicators in your hip bag causing an inevitable mess. The best part is that Loon's Biostrike makes adjusting the depth and size of your indicator simple and since there is no specific size, you can make adjustments exactly how you want them to be. Beyond that, it is reusable, biodegradable, and environmentally friendly. Biostrike can be rolled in a ball with wet fingers and applied anywhere on a leader, then removed and placed right back in the container. The downside to this product is that it doesn't hold on to tippets extremely well. Also, when compared to everything else on this list, it is arguably the least buoyant. In terms of casting when used in large amounts it is a tad difficult to cast with however, your ability may differ when compared to mine.

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