If you are fishing a bait like trout dough, floating mice tail worms or an inflated worm without using a wine cork strike indicator, you are missing about 50% of the fish you could be catching. About half the time a trout takes a bait, it will swim toward you. When a fish swims toward you the rod tip will not move and you will never know you have a fish on the line.
What happens next is that the line goes slack and the trout is able to unhook itself. Unless you use a strike indicator, you may be losing 50% or more of the fish you could be catching! If you’re soaking bait, you 100% need a strike indicator.
What is a Strike Indicator?
A wine cork strike indicator is a painted cork with a cup hook that hangs from your fishing line. The cork takes the slack out of your line and will rise or fall when a trout takes your bait. The strike indicator will rise when a fish takes your bait and swims away from you. It will fall when the fish is on the hook and swims toward you.
The strike indicator is most effective for “bait and wait” fishing in freshwater ponds, lakes and reservoirs. They are less effective in places like rivers or in saltwater where there are heavy currents.
How to Use a Strike Indicator
Using a strike indicator is easy. All you do is cast your bait out, reel in the slack so there’s no bow in your line, then hang the strike indicator from the fishing line between the top and middle line guide on the fishing pole. The line guides are those circles on your fishing rod that the fishing line flows through.
When the fish takes the bait, it will either swim away from you or swim toward you. Yes, they swim horizontally, but that’s the same as swimming away or to you.
What the Strike Indicator Shows You
When a fish inspects a bait and picks it up, you’ll first see the strike indicator start to jump and jiggle around. That tells you that a fish is fooling with your bait. The trout will then feel confident and strike it. As the trout swims away the cork strike indicator will begin to rise. Yet, the trout still hasn’t felt resistance. You know it has the bait so it still gives you time to grab your rod and start reeling.
When the trout swims toward you, you’ll first see the strike indicator jiggle around and then it will drop to the ground rapidly as the trout takes the bait and starts swimming towards you. It’s these kinds of takes that you’ll never know about unless you use a strike indicator.
It gives you time to grab your pole and start reeling in the slack so that the trout does not have the chance to spit the hook and swim away. Fish on, everytime.
How to Make a Strike Indicator
Making a wine cork strike indicator is easy. The parts are cheap but you probably have them already in your house.
- Cup Hook
Available at hardware stores. Use 1 inch or larger size.
- Wine Cork (artificial cork is fine)
Wine corks are available from craft stores
- Spray Paint (optional)
Use glossy paints rated for outdoor use. The brighter the better.
Steps for Making a Strike Indicator
Step 1. Screw the cup hook into the wine cork
Step 2. Paint the cork with spray paint (optional)
Step 3. Seal the paint with a glossy top coat (optional)
Although I’ve listed the spray painting as optional, your strike indicator will work best if you paint it. The reason a painted strike indicator works best is because they’re easier to see when painted.
If you use an unpainted strike indicator you’ll have to sit closer to your fishing pole in order to see it. Unpainted strike indicators blend into the background are hard to see from a distance. That makes it hard to see when you space your rods far apart or if you like to sit far away from the poles so that the trout don’t see you.
I’ve experimented painting them with a permanent marker like a sharpie and that works ok. Bright colors like fluorescent orange or pink are recommended. But painting them with a spray paint that’s rated for outdoor use and is waterproof is by far the best way to do it. The glossy topcoat protects your paint from chipping and makes it the most visible.
Where to Buy a Cork Strike Indicator?
You can’t buy these in stores. But they’re easy to make. If you want me to make some for you, use the contact form and let me know how many you need. I may be persuaded to make some for $5/each plus shipping. Just scroll up and click on the link to the contact form.