Beads are a common and versatile component used in fly tying. Fly tying beads serve various purposes in fly tying and can enhance the effectiveness, attractiveness, and functionality of your flies.
Key Information About Fly Tying Beads
Beads are primarily used to add weight to flies, enabling them to sink in the water column at the desired rate. They can also act as an imitation of the head or thorax of an insect, adding a realistic element to the fly.
2. Weighted Flies
Adding beads to a fly pattern helps it sink quickly, making it suitable for fishing at various depths. The beads can be placed near the head of the fly or even threaded onto the hook shank, providing a streamlined and balanced design.
3. Fly Tying Bead Materials
Bead heads can be made of various materials, including metal, glass, plastic, and even natural materials like bone. Most beads are made of brass, tungsten, or glass:
Brass Fly Tying Beads: These are among the most popular and versatile. They are relatively inexpensive and come in a variety of colors and sizes.
Tungsten Fly Tying Beads: Tungsten beads are denser than brass beads, which means they're heavier for their size. This allows for smaller bead sizes while maintaining the desired weight. Tungsten beads are particularly useful when you need to create heavily weighted flies that are still relatively compact.
Glass Fly Tying Beads: Glass beads are often used for creating more delicate patterns or for imitating certain insect species. They can add a lifelike translucency to the fly.
4. Bead Colors and Finishes
Beads come in a wide range of colors and finishes. Common colors include gold, silver, copper, black, and brass. Beads might have a metallic or matte finish, giving the fly a different appearance in the water.
5. Bead Sizes
Beads also come in different sizes, typically ranging from very small (1/16 inch) to larger sizes (3/16 inch or more). The size of the bead affects both the weight of the fly and its appearance.
Beads can be used in a variety of fly patterns, such as nymphs, streamers, and even dry flies. Nymphs with bead heads, for example, imitate the natural behavior of nymphs as they drift and tumble in the water column.
7. Bead Placement
The placement of the bead on the hook shank can influence the balance and swimming action of the fly. Placing the bead closer to the hook eye will result in a fly that has a more downward-tipping posture, while placing it farther back on the shank will result in a more level or upward posture.
Because fly tying beads provide versatility in terms of sink rate, depth control, and visual appeal, incorporating beads into your fly patterns can greatly enhance your success in various fly fishing scenarios.
One key decision every tyer needs to make when using beads is matching the size of the bead to the size of the hook they are tying with. Tyers can use trial and error, testing different hooks with different size beads. To make that process easier, we’ve developed this chart to help you match recommended hook and bead size combinations:
|18 - 24
|16 - 18
|14 - 16
|12 - 16
|10 - 14
|6 - 8
|4 - 8
These recommendations are based on a survey of a half dozen hook manufacturers and three or more hook styles for each brand. We always welcome your recommendations for improving our information.
If you would like to keep a copy of our Fly Tying Hook and Bead Size Combination Recommendations on your tying bench, you can download it here!
And, don't forget that we have hundreds of fly tying beads in stock and ready to shop.