Tight Line Nymphing: Sighter Diameter

As I stated in a previous article discussing knots on the sighter section of a tight line nymphing leader…

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.

Sighter diameter is yet another element of a tight line nymphing leader to consider. There are many different types of material that could be used to construct a sighter giving anglers many different options regarding diameter, or line size. For example, Rio 2-Tone Indicator Tippet is available is sizes ranging from 1x-4x.  So what diameter, or size, should you choose? Well, that depends.

Incase you are unfamiliar with Rio 2-Tone Indicator Tippet, here is a video from the RIO Products Vimeo with more information about the product.

I think that the biggest deciding factor while choosing sighter diameter is dependent on the size of tippet you fish most often. If you frequently fished 3 or 4x tippet sizes then you would probably want a larger sighter diameter such as 1 or 2x. On the other hand if you frequently fish 5 or 6x tippet sizes you may want a smaller sighter diameter such as 3 or 4x. For example, I almost always fish Rio 2-Tone Indicator 3x Tippet as my sigher material. Most days on the water I fish with 5x tippet, but I truly want the option to be able to fish 4, 5, or 6x at any given moment. By using a 3x diameter sighter I am able to easily make minor adjustments to accommodate my preferred range of tippet sizes.

Another factor to consider when choosing sighter diameter is water conditions. On larger rivers with heavy riffles, the extra thickness from a larger diameter sighter will be a little easier to see. On smaller streams or in low, clear water a smaller diameter sighter will spook less fish. I know it might sound crazy that a sighter could spook a fish, but on some of the more technical trout streams I’ve watched it happen. I fish a variety of larger rivers and smaller streams, by choosing a 3x diameter sighter I feel as though I am well prepared to fish about anywhere.

Consider tippet size and water conditions while choosing a diameter for the sighter in a tight line nymphing leader. Basing your decision upon these two factors will help you construct a sighter that is based upon your own specific needs.

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Tight Line Nymphing: Sighter Knots

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.

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