I've been doing a lot of fishing with an indicator, using the smallest foam football-shape ones.
In the winter I had to float the midges right in front of the trout snouts to get them interested. Often in 2' deep water. I could (and did) tie some reverse-hackle flies, but practically they were just red zebra midges in size #20. I had to fish with at least one bead-head to get it all down. Add to that having to stay at least 15-20' away to not spook the fish...
I tried fishing without an indicator, but found that I could only make short drifts before the flies got pulled towards me. Casting upstream was problematic, because soon I couldn't raise the rod high enough. So without an indicator I was limited to casting quarter-upstream, shorter drifts, and having to wade closer to the fish. And the fish were not visible either, though I had a good idea of where they were.
Now that spring is here, I still use an indicator with two droppers most of the time. Last Friday I picked up fish in 3" of water, and in 5' of water -- and again needed the indicator for the distance, longer drift, sinking time in the deeper.
I can see holding a tightline in closer-in nymphing/wet-fly swinging. But casting 25' across strong currents and trying to get 18-24" deep is still a mystery.
How would you do that kind of fishing without an indicator? I'd like to learn, I tried a few things, but nothing has been particularly effective so far...
Whew...(deep breath) Well Tom I guess I'm gonna try to field this one without being browbeaten by the tenkara purist's or the indicator police. Disclaimer: These are just my idea's and opinions. They are in no way a guide to what is and isn't the best or only way to fish.
Tom you've left some of the key details out and then there's always the constant changing variables with approaching moving water.
How long of rod and line are you using? A longer rod, if conditions allow, will give you more range. You mentioned that with a strait upstream cast you can't lift high enough to keep the slack out of your line. This "indicates"
to me that your fishing a line longer than your rod. A longer rod with a shorter or parallel line will give you more control, especially with getting you flys deeper. A longer rod allows you to suspend more line which in turn will allow you a better, unimpeded and/or un-accelerated drift. A tuck cast is always good to get the flies down faster. Also a powerful cast slapping the flies through the surface tension will get 'em down quicker. If there is a plunge in front of the lie use it to pull your offering down. Cast above or into it and drop your rod and let it suck in some line. Then lift your tip up enough to regain control of your drift and guide it through.
What line are you using? If the wind isn't a major factor a size 3 or 3.5 Hi-Vis level line is ideal. It will give you the best suspended drift (Hi-vis doesn't have anything to do with that BTW). Sometimes allowing just a few inches to a few feet(depending on water depth and speed) of your line to drift in the water will allow just enough surface tension to keep things from swinging toward you. If wind is an issue go to 4 or 4.5. If the wind is still an issue, go home! No seriously. Or just switch to a pvc line and a fly rod and accept that you cant do what you want to do today.
Ok now the dirty work. (Purists need not continue reading). Tom since your already fishing nymphs and some with beads (you heathen
I'm just kidding Tom) this is what "I" would do. I would fish with (1)A larger fly that has more resistance to it to anchor the line a bit better. (2) An internally weighted nymph, only because I prefer internal weight as opposed to a bead. There is nothing about a bead that looks natural to a spooky fish (3) A hopper/dropper rig..... And hold on folks (4) Add a split shot or one of my favorites some tungsten putty. I like putty because I can pick any amount of weight I want to use, it doesn't hang up as bad as shot, and it can be shaped to look a lot more natural than a split shot.
Now I know there are a ton of variables that I've not covered, mentioned and or I have missed. And I hope others will chime in to help out. But to be quite honest with you I'm tired of typing for now. I hope that this part of the thread does continue, as I'm sure I'll have more to add to it later. Honestly, I would like to hear from both the "Tenkara purists" and the "tenkara as a tool" groups. What would you do in these less than ideal conditions?
JD, posts like that is why I read this forum. Great info thanks for sharing your knowledge.