Trout beads

Published May 25th 2012

Trout beads aren't beads in the traditional fly tying sense but perfect imitations of salmon eggs and deadly efficient for rainbows. And they can be fished on a fly rod.



By now, anyone who chases steelhead, has heard about trout beads. Float fishermen of the spin-casting and center-pinning world have found much recent success in utilizing single trout beads under a float for steelhead. The same principles that float fishers use can be applied to fly fishing when using an indicator.

Here is how to utilize the same method on a fly leader using a thing-a-ma-bobber. In this particular setup the bead is used as an attractor to a stone fly, however, if you're brave enough to go against the conventions of fly fishing, you could also use just a bead and a bare nymph hook (We won't tell anyone).

The bead is pegged to the line using a toothpick.

Clip both ends of the toothpick once the bead is pegged and slide the bead approximately 1-2 inches from the hook or fly.

Here is how beads are fished conventionally under floats.

Secure with a toothpick

Clip toothpick

The beauty of catching a trout or steelhead on a bead is the fact that the hook usually ends up in the fishes lip, and not buried deep in the fishes throat, where a removal could potentially harm the animal.

Beads come in four sizes: 6mm, 8mm, 10mm and 12mm. Choose the size and color of your bead based on the size of your quarry, as well as the size, and clarity, of the water your fishing. For smaller steelhead, like those found in creeks, where water is often gin clear, start at a 6mm bead preferably in natural colors. For salmon and steelhead on bigger rivers, or in high, or muddy water conditions, you would be better off using a 10 or 12mm bead in buoyant colors like hot pink, chartreuse or even green apple!

Beads work, and are a far superior egg imitation than the "Glo-bugs" and "Sucker Spawns" of the world, by leaps and bounds. Whether or not they can penetrate the fly fishing kingdom of acceptance is another story. With no actual tying involved, and the only material being the bead itself (and the toothpick if you want to count that toward craftiness), the bead may have an even harder time than the San Juan Worm, when it comes to being accepted by fly anglers.

A bobber

Fishing the beads

Traditional egg flies


User comments
From: Anonymous  Link
Submitted December 8th 2012

Dear Grandpa,

You forgot to read this part of the article:

"The beauty of catching a trout or steelhead on a bead is the fact that the hook usually ends up in the fishes lip, and not buried deep in the fishes throat, where a removal could potentially harm the animal."

From: Anonymous  Link
Submitted November 3rd 2012

Who cares it is illegal? What self respecting fly fisherman would dare to kill such a beautiful fish. And since for fly fisherman the day on the water, the scenery, the company are on the first place and fish comes second it does not realy matter. And to be honest i`d rather hook a fish "illegal" instead of a fish thjats hooked so deep it almost crapped out my hook. I do not use them on therself but i often use them in a streamer rig with 2 beads above my streamer its realy makes a difference!

From: Steve Cole - Upper Valley Outfitters · steve·at·  Link
Submitted June 1st 2012

Simple, effective, why over think it. If it works on my flyrod, I'm in. Good work Art!

Comment to an image
From: Grandpa - Full name and email anonymized  Link
Submitted June 16th 2012

Great picture. So great it shows the hook in the mouth penetrating from the outside in, thus making the catch illegal. I hope it was released.

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