Craft Foam Strike Indicators

by John Evans
(San Antonio, TX)

Piece of Craft Foam with Floating Fly Line Around the Middle

Piece of Craft Foam with Floating Fly Line Around the Middle

Craft Foam Strike Indicators

In a previous post I mentioned that my wife, Robin, likes to use strike indicators made out of craft foam for both tenkara & keiryu (bait) fishing. I thought I’d show how we make these, though I want to stress that we claim no originality for the design. I’m sure others have worked up craft foam indicators that are similar to what Robin uses.

Perhaps the only difference in these indicators is that we’ve tailored the size and design, through trial and error, to work with tenkara rods. They are aerodynamic enough to cast well, provide enough flotation for small bead head nymphs, and are sensitive enough for micro and trout fishing. Also, they can be made in about five minutes, which means you can spend more time fishing!

The steps are super-simple. First, cut a piece of thin craft or fly-tying foam into a strip about 3/8” wide by 2.5” long. Second, loosely tie a 2” piece of floating fly line around the middle of the foam using a simple overhand knot. Again, you want this knot to be very loose. Don’t crimp the foam with the knot. Third, put a dab of super glue on the overhand knot so that the fly line sticks to the foam. Fourth, fold the foam in half, over the knot, and super glue the foam to itself. Fifth, cut the ends of the foam in a nice arrow shape to make it more aerodynamic. Finally, cut the tag ends of the fly line for neatness.

To attach the indicator to your tippet, simply make a U shape in the tippet, pass it between the fly line and the foam, and then pass the foam indicator through the U in the tippet. Pull tight.

I realize that this can sound confusing, so I’ve included some photos which explain the process. It’s easier to show than it is to tell.

These indicators hold up well, and they don’t get water-logged. Robin has used several of them for more than a year. Also, they’re relatively easy to adjust on your line. Finally, they’re easy to see if you use the right color, and they seem to cut through the wind pretty well. The only frustrating part about them is that Robin has had many fish hit the indicator instead of her fly or bait. I guess the foam looks like a grasshopper or a frog.

Depending on the weight of your fly and the depth you’re fishing, the indicator may lie flat on the water or tip straight up. It will definitely tip up when a fish strikes! Robin will often bounce her nymph along the bottom and simply use the indicator to help her see a take.

Give them a try and see what you think. Perhaps you can suggest improvements to the design.

Return to Your Tenkara Stories.

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” - Benjamin Franklin

"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." -
Col. Robert Venables 1662

As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.


The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.

Beware of the Dogma

Currently processing orders that were received June 20.

This Just In

Medium Rod Case

Suntech Kurenai II AR (Waiting list signup)