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Why Do Fish Eat Indicators?

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November 19, 2008

Why Do Fish Eat Indicators?

By Tim Romano & Kirk Deeter

Indicatorfly_2

As usual my good fishing buddy Jeff sent me some smart ass photograph (pictured above) after a weekend of fishing when I wasn't invited. Typically these emails are just a photo, no caption and I'm left to decipher what the hell was going on.

What, was that sorry excuse of a fly? I inquired in my return email. Turns out he and his friends were fishing for trout in Wyoming on the North Platte river last weekend and the fish were absolutely slamming their indicators on the surface, a lot. Jeff claims they tried throwing everything they had for surface bugs. The fish just kept giving them the middle finger. They would not eat ANY dry flies. Eventually in total frustration they devised this heinous creation. An indicator-fly. Problem was the fish wouldn't eat it...

I've seen this phenomenon a handful of times in my life and it's always very perplexing. Why are those fish keying in on a giant orange floating ball, most likely attached to 30lb test and not even entertaining the thought of eating a delicious looking insect?

Seriously, I've never heard a realistic answer. Help a brother out here... What are these fish doing?

TR

Comments (19)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Justin T wrote 5 years 19 weeks ago

With the trout stupidity comments, it all depends on where you fish and how much food there is. In the southern appalachians with brook trout, they will attack anything if it looks remotely edible. In Pennsylvania spring creeks, you can't get a brown to take a fly unless it perfectly matches the main hatching insects. The easiest fishing I've ever had was catching smallmouth from a little creek, they hit every lure I threw at them including a naked roundhead jig. It's true, bass are more derived than trout which means trout have been around longer and have evolved in different ways to live in their habitats. All I know is that bass on the fly are a lot harder to catch than with a crankbait.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from joey wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

true, jerry! carp are crazy. a fish that will eat anything but often times NOT your fly.

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from Evan V wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

Gives me an idea. Make a nice .45cal strike indicator. :)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JK Smith wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

I watched some kids feeding white bread to carp, "tied" a white bread fly from a Styrofoam peanut and went to town - worked like charm. Some times you got to be triangular as in try anything to angle.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jerry k wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

a carp has more senses then both of em

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from joey wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

omg, so many of you trout fanatics can't just accept the truth that they are dumb. NEWS FLASH: trout aren't the pinnacle of fly fishing, and they aren't that smart!yes, bass are dumb, too. but ask any fish biologist and they will tell you that based on biology, fin placement, etc., that bass are further evolved. don't confuse aggression with lack of brain power.and, i've seen trout sip or gulp my indicator before, so i don't the 'territorial' argument works. THEY WANT TO EAT IT!i still love trout fishing, and am a devote fly fisher of them. but let's be realistic instead of religious about it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ryan wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

well they are either hatchery fish that have been fed pellets and think its looks that those nasty trout dough balls or they are hitting it out of aggression , they think that whatever it is its invading their territory and getting them pretty mad. i have noticed this on many occasions , trout , especially rainbows are aggresive towards bright colors especially red , wich my father swears by when trout fishing.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tim romano wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

scott,Sign me up, minus the Pall Mall's. Can I substitute for another indicator fly?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Scott Thompson wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

I was on that trip with Jeff and I DID catch two rainbows on the indicator fly (I am a shameless whore)(one 18 and one 22") before he walked down to take that picture. THE INDICATOR FLY IS A NEW PHONOMENOM THAT WILL TAKE THE NATION BY STORM SIMALER TO THE BANJO MINNOW! We are going to shoot an infomercial that gives you a coupon for a 6 pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a carton of Pall Malls with every purchase! Long live the THOMPSON'S INDICATOR!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Blue Ox wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

Just another way of flippin' us the bird.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

I think they do it just to aggravate us.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tony Fotopulos wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

I really think they are being territorial and want to bite it and chase it out of their zone. If they had arms and hands they would punch it or slap it!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JC wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

Tim...I hope you get a good answer for this one because I wanna know too. I've had fish wail my indicator and thought I'd outsmart them by tying on an egg fly of the same color and fishing it like a dry after putting on some floatant. Nope...never caught one that way.Of course, I'm also in NJ where they rise to gum wrappers, cigarette butts, and discarded band aids too.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from pauls wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

evan,That's how you feed bass. At least in Texas... Some of the dumbest fish I've ever seen. chum up them big bucket-mouths . Thats the best way to fish em/

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Evan V wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

So you're saying i should try gourmet foods on the fly?Bacon and hashbrowns, here they come, fish!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from joey wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

really it's because 'selective' trout are a myth. trout are put on a pedestal, they are really one of the stupider fish, less biologically evolved than even a bass. they are as opportunistic in the wild as any other species.the only reason trout get selective is in situations where: 1) there is an abundance of food (they can choose what to eat) and 2) they get pounded (they have to choose wisely, or get hooked again). otherwise, they do what any other hungry fish does out of curiosity, they put it in their mouths to see if it's edible. it's not rocket science to figure that out.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from joey wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

haha, you beat me to it, jerry...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jerry k wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

i got a shot in the dark um is it corn joey?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Alex Pernice the fly rod winner wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

I bet they think its that Power bait Crap some spin fisherman was casting in there, and it makes sence as I think some of that stuff floats, so... yea.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Justin T wrote 5 years 19 weeks ago

With the trout stupidity comments, it all depends on where you fish and how much food there is. In the southern appalachians with brook trout, they will attack anything if it looks remotely edible. In Pennsylvania spring creeks, you can't get a brown to take a fly unless it perfectly matches the main hatching insects. The easiest fishing I've ever had was catching smallmouth from a little creek, they hit every lure I threw at them including a naked roundhead jig. It's true, bass are more derived than trout which means trout have been around longer and have evolved in different ways to live in their habitats. All I know is that bass on the fly are a lot harder to catch than with a crankbait.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from joey wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

true, jerry! carp are crazy. a fish that will eat anything but often times NOT your fly.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Evan V wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

Gives me an idea. Make a nice .45cal strike indicator. :)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JK Smith wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

I watched some kids feeding white bread to carp, "tied" a white bread fly from a Styrofoam peanut and went to town - worked like charm. Some times you got to be triangular as in try anything to angle.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jerry k wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

a carp has more senses then both of em

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from joey wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

omg, so many of you trout fanatics can't just accept the truth that they are dumb. NEWS FLASH: trout aren't the pinnacle of fly fishing, and they aren't that smart!yes, bass are dumb, too. but ask any fish biologist and they will tell you that based on biology, fin placement, etc., that bass are further evolved. don't confuse aggression with lack of brain power.and, i've seen trout sip or gulp my indicator before, so i don't the 'territorial' argument works. THEY WANT TO EAT IT!i still love trout fishing, and am a devote fly fisher of them. but let's be realistic instead of religious about it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ryan wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

well they are either hatchery fish that have been fed pellets and think its looks that those nasty trout dough balls or they are hitting it out of aggression , they think that whatever it is its invading their territory and getting them pretty mad. i have noticed this on many occasions , trout , especially rainbows are aggresive towards bright colors especially red , wich my father swears by when trout fishing.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tim romano wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

scott,Sign me up, minus the Pall Mall's. Can I substitute for another indicator fly?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Scott Thompson wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

I was on that trip with Jeff and I DID catch two rainbows on the indicator fly (I am a shameless whore)(one 18 and one 22") before he walked down to take that picture. THE INDICATOR FLY IS A NEW PHONOMENOM THAT WILL TAKE THE NATION BY STORM SIMALER TO THE BANJO MINNOW! We are going to shoot an infomercial that gives you a coupon for a 6 pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a carton of Pall Malls with every purchase! Long live the THOMPSON'S INDICATOR!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Blue Ox wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

Just another way of flippin' us the bird.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

I think they do it just to aggravate us.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tony Fotopulos wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

I really think they are being territorial and want to bite it and chase it out of their zone. If they had arms and hands they would punch it or slap it!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JC wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

Tim...I hope you get a good answer for this one because I wanna know too. I've had fish wail my indicator and thought I'd outsmart them by tying on an egg fly of the same color and fishing it like a dry after putting on some floatant. Nope...never caught one that way.Of course, I'm also in NJ where they rise to gum wrappers, cigarette butts, and discarded band aids too.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from pauls wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

evan,That's how you feed bass. At least in Texas... Some of the dumbest fish I've ever seen. chum up them big bucket-mouths . Thats the best way to fish em/

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Evan V wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

So you're saying i should try gourmet foods on the fly?Bacon and hashbrowns, here they come, fish!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from joey wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

really it's because 'selective' trout are a myth. trout are put on a pedestal, they are really one of the stupider fish, less biologically evolved than even a bass. they are as opportunistic in the wild as any other species.the only reason trout get selective is in situations where: 1) there is an abundance of food (they can choose what to eat) and 2) they get pounded (they have to choose wisely, or get hooked again). otherwise, they do what any other hungry fish does out of curiosity, they put it in their mouths to see if it's edible. it's not rocket science to figure that out.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from joey wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

haha, you beat me to it, jerry...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jerry k wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

i got a shot in the dark um is it corn joey?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Alex Pernice the fly rod winner wrote 5 years 21 weeks ago

I bet they think its that Power bait Crap some spin fisherman was casting in there, and it makes sence as I think some of that stuff floats, so... yea.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment