Eyes of all kinds - tie them better

Bulging eyes

bead chain eyes on hookbead chain eyes on hook
Bead chain eyes
By Martin Joergensen

You will see that many of the Danish saltwater flies -- The Magnus, Bjarke and Grey Frede are prime examples -- have bead chain eyes. These eyes serve two purposes: weight and imitation. The eyes till add quite a bit of weight in the front end of the fly and the balls obviously look like eyes. Their shiny surface even adds an attractive feature that will glimpse and get the attention of the fish.

Doing it
The eyes are made from bead chain. This is the type of chain that is ofte found between bathtub walls and drainage plugs. It can also be bought in hardware stores in different sizes. I have a variety of sizes and use them depending on hook size and weight.
I've seen plastic bead chain eyes too in a few tackle shops, but never used them. What I have used is pearls and copper thread, a technique I'll explain later.

No big deal
Tying in the eyes is no big deal. A couple of tips though:

  • I normally tie the eyes in under the hook shank. Putting them on top can sometimes tip the fly over, making it swim upside-down.
  • Don't cut the set of eyes you want to use from the chain before they are secured with a couple of thread wraps.
  • Adjust the horizontal position of the eyes perpendicular to the hook shank with criss-cross (figure-of-eight)wraps.
  • Secure the eyes with horizontal thread wrappings under the eyes but over the shank (when tied on top of the shank).
  • Secure the eyes with a drop of super glue or varnish while tying or after the fly has been finished.
Bead chain | Pearls and copper | Monofilament
Learn more about types of eyes and how to tie them on
More ways to improve your tying

User comments
From: ron · porterforge·at·gmail.com  Link
Submitted March 15th 2015

great idea. just starting to tie flys and have been reading and trying different tips i read. it is amazing how hard you can make a project when if you just sit back and think about it you can see all kinds of options. thanks for the tips and hope to see more.

From: meg · meganbelmont·at·mac.com  Link
Submitted October 12th 2007

hi tim, is that you?

From: Tim Luzak · tluzak·at·hotmail.com  Link
Submitted June 9th 2007

I have a length of bead-chain that I was thinking of using on my freshwater Clouser's in place of the barbell eyes. I think that these will be more effective whenever you dont need the weight centered at the head.
If I were to put the weight on the shank, instead of just the head, I would have a more even action to the streamer. The barbell eyes make me feel as though I am Jig fishing. I don't know what I am doing to provoke a take with them. Thanks for reminding me that chain beads are a great option.

From: PAUL MOLLOY · p.gmolloy·at·btinternet.com  Link
Submitted December 30th 2006

this is the best tip i've had in ages.I've been checking every sink since. Many thanks

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