There are many materials and methods for building a sighter into a tight line nymphing leader. A sighter, or section of hi-vis line in a leader, serves as a reference point for anglers to detect strikes. In addition to detecting strikes, it aids anglers with the ability to visualize where their flies are underwater, and how they are drifting. Since strike detection and drift awareness are two of the most important concepts in fly fishing, it makes sense to me that the sighter in a tight line nymphing leader is equally important.
It’s no secret that using a colored section of line for a sighter improves visibility. However, aspects of a sighter that I feel help me easily visualize strike detection and drift awareness are knots. The knots on a sighter create contrast points between different colors of material. These contrast points are the part of a sighter that standout the most to my eye.
For that reasoning I prefer to use a sighter that consists of three different sections of line alternating in color. This provides four different knots, or contrast points that stand out to the eye. By having multiple sections of line knotted together, it would also be possible to use a sigher tapered in diameter to improve cast-ability on a long tight line nymphing leader.
Somewhere I saw an angler leave the tag end of the knots on a sighter untrimmed in order to improve visibility. If necessary, untrimmed knots do tend to make a sighter stand out more. I was worried that these untrimmed tag ends would be more prone to tangling, but that does not seem to be the case. If you have trouble seeing your sighter, try leaving the tag ends on knots that join colors.
There are many two-toned indicator materials available from companies such as Rio, Umpqua, or Cortland. Even when using one of these two-toned indicator materials that naturally transition from one color to another, I prefer to cut the colors apart and knot them together creating a contrast point. My preferred knot for sighters is usually a blood knot.
The next time you are tying up a sighter, consider incorporating knots as contrast points that will help strike detection and improve drift awareness.