Strike indicators are an incredibly effective tool in stillwater fly fishing, but sometimes it is more fun to take the indicator/swivel setup off and fish a naked line. Though it may feel very approximate at first, it can prove quite effective in some situations and can even out-fish the traditional static presentation. I will typically fish a naked line when I am in water deeper than 15 feet and I know that fish are suspending themselves a little ways off the bottom of the lake.
A victim of the size 18 Chromie/Copper rib fished on a naked floating line with a 21 foot leader.
Why do I choose these certain conditions for fishing a naked line setup? Fishing water that is on the deeper side will allow you to really slow down your presentation without putting your fly on the bottom of the lake. As far as fish suspending themselves off of bottom, this means that they are not glued to the mud looking for pupa and are actively cruising at a variety of depths. The grab that takes place when a fish climbs onto the naked line can be absolutely heart-stopping.
How is it done? I will give you an example of an ideal situation followed by (what I believe to be) the appropriate leader setup. It is mid-June, I am anchored in 23 feet of water and there is a steady chironomid hatch taking place. I am looking at my finder to see that fish are suspended anywhere from 14 to 19 feet in the water column, giving me ample opportunity to cover those depths with a naked line. If I were fishing 23 feet of water and seeing fish at these depths, I would fish a leader that was 17-20 feet in length. I am a big fan of fishing straight pieces of 8lb or 6lb fluorocarbon, allowing the fly to sink at its fastest possible rate when not prohibited by the thick butt section found on a tapered leader.