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Often controversial is Billy.    Billy the Bung that is.

An indicator to some and a float to others.

Discussions on forums are numerous and occasionally heated.

There is no doubt that many people like it and just as many do not and possibly the majority are ambivalent whether they or anyone else uses one or not.

One argument is that it is not fly-fishing. Well if you go down that road then perhaps you should never use a Blob or a Booby or a Sinking Line.  Maybe you should never use a boat as then you are suspending the angler and not your flies although that is probably a bridge too far…. 🙂

Mind you a boat may be just considered a method of access but then an indicator just over the edge of a sharp drop off could be considered just the same.

The thing is if you start defining Fly Fishing where do you stop?  Pretty soon you could be back to a cut stick, some horse hair and wool stuck on an angled piece of bone.

Maybe you would not go that far but what about ruling out man made carbon fibre and modern plastics. There are still proponents of split cane and silk but there will not be many of them who do not use modern monofilaments.

So back to Billy.  One reason some people do not like it is that they think it is coarse fishing. Well I believe that the Coarse Anglers are the best anglers in the world. They have fantastic skills regarding depth and presentation and often use the finest of nylons to catch decent sized fish. They spend thousands on kit and are very innovative.

Incidentally Brian Leadbetter who was the first man to become World Fly Fishing Champion twice started as a coarse angler.

So what is not to admire about coarse anglers?

Another reason the Bung is not liked is because it is supposed to be too easy.

Well if you think it works every time then perhaps you have never tried it……….. ??

Yes there are times when it is effective but that is true of every fly fishing method.

Lures and gaudy wet flies are usually deadly on freshly stocked fish or Highland trout who have not seen a fly since last year or even farther back.

If you are a dry fly purist then I believe you are using one of the easiest methods of all.

You just chuck it out there, leave it and watch it and when you see a fish take lift the rod.

Sound familiar?

However as I have often said before Dry Fly fishing is either too easy or too hard and yes it does have its incredibly frustrating days when whatever you try it does not work. These are often balanced by field days when a basic Black Bits hammers them.

Bung fishing is seldom quite that extreme but it does have days when it really works and many other days when it fails completely.

One point that is often ignored is some of the methods and tactics that can be used when fishing an indicator.

Varying the depth is the obvious one but also matching the hatch can be another. Using different combinations of flies and retrieves is another.

Casting a leader with two heavily weighted flies and a less than aerodynamic indicator in some of the tight conditions found at certain places on a fishery like the Whinney Loch is not for everyone. Particularly if the taking fish are a long way out in the middle.

Look I am not trying to change the mind of anyone who is not a friend of Billy.

Each to their own.   I am merely trying to point out that perhaps like a lot of things in life there may be more to it than meets the eye.

There are good indicator fishermen as well as average and poor ones. Just like any branch of fly fishing.

I will finish off with a question.

You are at your local Rainbow Trout Fishery where it is quite busy. Apart from an odd fish the only two people who are steadily catching are two very experienced anglers who are each using an indicator.

Do you strap one on or if you don’t have one make a mental note to call in at the tackle shop sooner rather than later?


Your Call.  🙂


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