Boles Float Rite Indicator
Boles Float Rite Indicator. Available from www.theflyshop.com.
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old the fish up and smile!" I said. Lonnie held up the fish, but his smile was more like a grimace. He tried hard, but the lips were a little too tight, the eyes a bit too strained. He seemed distracted. I snapped the photo anyway. Lonnie quickly put the fish back in the river, then raced for the driftboat's oars.
Looking at the world through a camera lens gives you tunnel vision, so I hadn't seen that we were drifting into some large branches that overhung the Lower Sacramento River. Lonnie pulled hard on the oars, but it was too late. Tree limbs raked us for long seconds. "I didn't think you'd ever get that picture taken," Lonnie said as he cleaned alder leaves and twigs out of his boat.
I shouldn't have been so fussy about the photo. While it was the first good fish of the day, it was hardly the only fish. We caught many sizable rainbows that afternoon, and all of them took the same fly, a local caddis pupa pattern called the Fox Poopah. But while the fly pattern was important, the real key to our success was an indicator system Lonnie had developed: the Boles Float Rite.
Building a Better Indicator
Lonnie Boles is a full-time guide for The Fly Shop in Redding, California. His usual turf is the Lower Sacramento and Trinity rivers. Between these two streams, he often puts in over 220 guide days a year.
In both rivers, the fish--large rainbows in the Lower Sac and steelhead in the Trinity--respond well to dead-drifted nymphs, and a common tactic is to drift the flies under an indicator. The standard California indicator rig works well, but many of Lonnie's clients had problems using it correctly. They'd miss strikes or not realize their nymph wasn't drifting properly. By the time they'd fixed the problem, they'd passed the fish. So Lonnie developed the Boles Float Rite, a simple indicator system that was more reliable. Now he's selling thousands of them.
How to Use the Float Rite
The Boles Float Rite is polypropylene yarn with a swivel in the middle. A stiff polypro "flag" sticks out the top. You rig up by first tying about three-feet of butt leader to the swivel; stiff material, such as 25# Maxima, works best. Then tie about six feet of 3X fluorocarbon leader to the swivel. Blood knot 18 inches of 4X fluorocarbon to this leader, and tie on your first fly (preferably a beadhead pattern). Clinch knot another 18 inches of 4X to the hook bend and tie on a second fly. A small split shot is usually needed; put it on just above the blood knot. Dress the indicator thoroughly with floatant.
Cast upstream and mend so that you have fly line straight upstream from the indicator. This is a key to getting a good drift. If the line is on either side of the indicator or downstream from it, it will create drag, and the drift will become unnatural.
When the flies are properly dead-drifting, the Float Rite's flag is vertical. If it isn't, then something's not right--either the leader is too long and the flies are dragging bottom, or the fly line has created drag, or some similar problem that will result in fewer fish.
When a fish takes the fly in its mouth, the indicator instantly goes down and you need to strike. When striking, remember that you probably have lots of slack line out, so swing the rod while pulling in slack line with the other hand.
Why It Works So Well
It's easy to make a yarn indicator that sinks when a fish grabs your fly. However, the key to the Float Rite's effectiveness is its flag. When the indicator and nymph are working properly, the flag is straight up and down. If it isn't upright, then you need to adjust your mend or there is some other problem. Because anglers are visually alerted to problems--and can quickly fix them--they spend more time fishing correctly, so their success rate is higher.
Another advantage to the flag is detecting the subtle take of a fish that swims with the fly. Lonnie says that he often sees the Float Rite's flag wiggling as the indicator drifts downstream. That happens when a fish has picked up the fly and is swimming with it, but has not pulled the indicator underwater. Tighten up, and you'll have a fish.
The style of nymphing is very productive. The right-angle connection between the butt section and the leader helps a fly get down deep where it belongs and to float properly. And the sensitivity of a yarn indicator (much superior to a corkie or other hard material) means you'll detect subtle grabs by the fish.
The Boles Float Rite is an excellent evolution of this method. I found it to be very sensitive, and it really tells you if you're fishing right or not.
Float Rites comes in chartreuse or orange, and in small and large sizes. The small size is for lower flows when you can use smaller, lighter flies. The large size works best in heavy waters where your flies need more weight to get down near the bottom.
Bottom Line: Works great for nymphing, especially if you're fishing from a boat. Reviewer Rating: 4
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