VIDEO: The Dorsey Yarn Indicator — Our Best and Most Versatile Indy Choice — Building It and Fishing It

by | Apr 18, 2024 | 18 comments

** NOTE ** Video for The Dorsey Yarn Indictor appears below

For over a decade, my Troutbitten friends and I have fished a small yarn indicator that weighs nothing, is extremely sensitive, versatile, cheap, doesn’t affect the cast, and flat out catches more trout than any other indicator we’ve ever used. What we call “the Dorsey” is a daily-use tool that is integral to our nymphing system. We mount it on a tight line rig or a traditional leader with fly line. It floats like crazy. It signals takes and information about the drift like no other indy we’ve ever used, and it’s an unstoppable fish catcher.

We all love tight line tactics. But a few thing about the drift change when an indy is attached. If you control the variables, the results are often better than a pure tight line approach.

I’ve written about all of this in a popular Troutbitten article . . .

READ: Troutbitten | The Dorsey Yarn Indicator — Everything you need to know, and a little more

For many years, a simple Troutbitten videos has been on YouTube, showing how to make and how to use the Dorsey.

VIDEO: Troutbitten | The Dorsey Yarn Indicator

Now, as part of the Troutbitten Tips Series, on YouTube, we’ve added a full length video for the Dorsey — one of the most critical tools in our packs. In this video, I walk through all of the reasons why the Dorsey is a favorite, how to build it and how to attach the Dorsey.

Here’s the video:

(Please select 1080p or 4K for high resolution.)

Here are the two simple materials for the Dorsey:

Bonnie Macrame Cord 6mm 1/4' Medium Gauge Orthodontic Elastics

I strongly recommend that you don’t substitute these materials. Watch the video above, and read the companion article for all the details.

Fish hard, friends.


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Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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  1. Something that I noticed with the bonnie braid is that when i break it down into “strands”, those stands have tendency to come apart in pairs of two smaller “sub-strands”. So a while ago when I tried to make these following your original video, I assumed those “sub-strands” where what you meant by “strands” and I wound up with what seemed like not enough material to keep my flies floating.

    So what I started doing is keeping a plano box around with precut strands at the “sub-strand” level, and now I have a feel for how many of these I like in my dorseys. Otherwise the bigger strands fall apart when I store them and it gets a bit messy.

    • That’s funny. I experienced the same thing. Good solution.

    • I actually WANT those strands to come apart. It’s more bouyant that way. I brush out the strands to separate all the material. Wouldn’t suggest doing it any other way. Cheers.

  2. I start with 6″ pieces of yarn placed together. I put it into my tying vice with 1/2″ to 3/4″ sticking out. I tie the tread on the yarn against the vice jaws and finish with my whipping tool.

    • Thanks for the info. Was wondering if I could use the vise.

  3. Really great video content! Thanks for taking the time to produce this, and others like it.

  4. Great video. Love the dorsey.

  5. Love the split shot hack. Can you explain your reasoning for putting the shot above rather than below the dorsey?

    • Sure, Greg. It just helps the split shot to not slide. I also think it keeps the Dorsey directly in touch with the flies without a split shot in between.

  6. Thank you for another great informative article.
    Is there a reason that you don’t use the Dorsey with 5x, 6x or 7x?
    I often fish a heavily pressured tail water that has gin clear water and need to use an indicator that offers the benefits of the Dorsey.
    I do use the New Zealand strike indicator but was hoping to try using the Dorsey in its place.

    • The thinner the line, the more easily it slides during casting and setting. You could always just use thicker line above the lighter tippet. This would also reduce the risk of losing the indicator if you break off.

      • “The thinner the line, the more easily it slides during casting and setting.”

        Respectfully, I disagree with this. I find the opposite to be true.

        John, the reason I don’t mount the Dorsey to 6X is because it DOESN’T want to slide easily. Extra thin material grabs the rubber band too much. So when you do slide it, the band gets little cuts from the 6X, and the 6X also takes some damage.

        The solution is simple. Use Two diameters past the sighter. 4X for mounting the Dorsey and 6X for the rest. Here’s an article:


  7. Thank you for your response Dom. That’s a perfect solution.
    Enjoy your time on the water.

  8. Another excellent video. What is the clip you use to hold the Dorsey on your vest? Much time is lost getting the indicator out of a plastic bag in a vest pocket. The clip is a great idea. Thanks.

  9. I appreciate you preemptively addressing the comparison to the NZ Indicator system.

    Do you find the primary advantage of the Dorsey to be the adjustability, or not having to use the tool?

    I’m also curious how much of a difference in performance you think there is between yarn and wool (used in either system). I don’t often break off an indicator, but I’m trying to be deliberate about cutting plastic and synthetics out of my fishing system, and have only ever used wool. Is there a meaningful difference in performance between the two?

  10. I can’t get the rubber band to clinch, it stays loose no matter how many times I put the loop through it, and the fibres don’t fold together. I’m using the 1/4″ bands. What am I doing wrong?


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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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