Strike Indicators or Bobbers vary greatly. From Loon’s Biostrike to the standard old party ballon an indicator can be anything that will “hold” your flies and stay afloat. My personal favorite is another fly. That’s right if your fishing a nymph/emerger under a dry fly your fishing with a bobber, purist. However in Montana we need to get those flies down deep sometimes. If you want to run a double nymph rig you have to choose one of the more “bobber” style of floats.
Yarn – The long standing, soft landing yarn indicator has it’s pros and cons. Yarn will always land soft, but on western streams were wind can rule the day they are not always the best choice. Wind will make those subtle strikes impossible to see. I think of yarn as the perfect float for small water, spring creeks, or calm water. I would say it is the stealthiest way to fish a float.
Pegged Floats – That toothpick is good for a couple of things. This style of float is what I turn anglers who complain about kinked leaders to. That is right no kinked leaders but your carpal tunnel will be acting up cause your going to tie more knots to get these babies on and off. This style of float is made in every size, so as long as your matching the size of float the the water and flies your using they can get the job done.
Slip on Floats – Best way not to ruin your leader. Slip ons are nice for the guys again that hate to ruin a leader by putting a kink in the line. There are a few anglers regionally that love these little guys because of the ease of getting them on and off your leader. They are great for a quick change of depth as well.
Pinch on Foam Floats – Best float for that dry fly that you will never see on the water. That’s about it, a small emerger or a super small dry are the only reason I would pinch one of these floats on. They are not big enough to float our double nymph rigs we fish out west.
Thingamabobber Style Floats – Face it, Kleenex/Tissue, they have taken over. I group any float that you pinch your leader then poke through a hole in the float finally looping around the float a Thingamabobber. You have now put a kink in your leader that is next to impossible to get out. I used to do this with old school Portuguese cork floats, it worked great. I know use the Thingamabobbers, they are just easier to get. You can find them on any fly shop counter. This style of float does a great job of showing those subtle takes too. But how do I justify ruining a leader every time I put one on? I personally dedicate that leader to nymph fishing only. I generally fish a different style leader for nymph fishing, mostly tippet with a small butt section. So that rod/reel and leader is dedicated as my nymphing rod. My style of float has stole a whole rod out of my arsenal, maybe I should change.
Other Floats – Buy a bag of small balloons and save the $$$ or request some strange putty in a fly shop that should float your flies but sink your wallet.
In the end, no matter your choice, the float has to hold your nymphs to a desired depth. You the angler must be able to see it in all water conditions as well, you have to know when to SET! Besides what good is a bobber, that your friends are going to make fun of, unless it’s helping you catch more fish.