Balloons vs. Thingamabobbers….Which is the best?

Balloons vs. Thingamabobbers….Which is the best?

July 11, 2013 2:16 pm Published by 5 Comments

Balloon on left – thingamabobber on the right

Being that the Bighorn River is a productive nymph fishery just about 365 days a year, there is no better testing ground for bobber’s aka “strike indicators” in the world. Foam, cork and yarn have all been major players in the evolution of the strike indicator.  However, trapped air technology in the form of latex balloons, and/or plastic thingamabobbers have come to dominate the strike indicator market in recent years. This is due to the fact that they simply perform better than anything other indicator available. Bighorn River guides these days seem to be split down the middle, half for latex balloons and the other half leaning towards thingamabobbers.

Here is why they are split down the middle:

Thingamabobber/Sindicators – Air trapped inside a round plastic balloon that you attach to your line using the built in grommet.
Retail Cost: $1.25 for one or $5.50 for 5
Colors: Orange, Pink, White, Black

Pros:   Long lasting, easy to cast in the wind, easy to move up and down on the leader, easy to see

Cons: Sits lower in water, therefore less sensitive to subtle strikes. Hits water harder, kinks butt section of leader.

Balloon – These are not your ordinary water balloons.  They are a much thicker latex material that is very durable.
10 balloons for $5
Colors: Yellow, Black, White, Red

Pros: Sits high atop the water, very sensitive to the subtlest of movement, easy to see, inexpensive, helps anglers identify when a true drift is achieved.

Cons: Can be popped, doesn’t cast as well in the wind, slightly more difficult to move on the leader when adjusting for depth, takes time to prepare your indicator and time to learn initially how to do it.

While both have their pros and cons the thingamabobber is definitely the most widely used indicator on the market among anglers.  On the Bighorn guides are just about split down the middle.  There is no doubt that balloons are a more sensitive strike indicator and help anglers read there drift better.  Conceptually, these attributes in turn should lead to more strikes detected and more fish being caught. If you haven’t tried balloons yet they are certainly worth a try. However, it seems as though for most anglers the ease of use and simplicity of the thingamabobber outweighs all.


Balloons vs. Thingamabobs

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This post was written by Bighornangler


  • penguin says:

    The best indicater is the cork held in place by a latex tube. It holds its position better than a thingamabobber but is easier to move up or down the leader. Balloons are hard to adjust plus are too bouyant and thus subject to the wind. (And how the wind can blow on the Bighorn, North Platte, and South Platte). When possible I don’t use any indicator, especially on the South Platte in middle park

  • Mark Jenkins says:

    I love pinch on indicators. I can put them anywhere on my line and when I am done i just peel em off. If you need to move em, just peel one off and put on another for $2 you get 40 indicators so at $.05 a piece you can burn a few. I fish more than most though.

  • Mark says:

    Where’s a good place to order stronger latex balloons?

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