Eyes, beads, and cones - history, usage, tying and fishing weighted flies.

Beads add weight and a shine of gold

By Martin Joergensen

In this section:
- Bead chain
- Cast/dumbbell
Tying them on

Flies with eyes:
Fair Fly
Crazy Dane

Flies with beads:
Flashback Prince

Bead Head Scud
Goldkopf nymph

Flies with cones:
Coney flies
Magnus cone

Further reading:
The history
  of the bead head

Bead chain eyes
Monofilament eyes
Pearl eyes

Roman Moser
Austrian Roman Moser
- one of the modern revivers
of the bead head.

Beads are the classical way to add weight and shine to a fly. The beads as we know them have been around for ages, and their history probably go centuries back.

Many of the most common bead head patterns use the brass or gold bead, which is widely available in many sizes. Almost any wet fly can be equipped with such a bead - if not for beauty then for effective, deep fishing. Some fishers also advocate that the shine of the bead will be an added attraction for the fish, which does not seem an unlikely theory. A theory along the same lines goes that the goldbead imitates the airbubble that most emerging insects, (particularly caddis pupae), have in their bodies, enabling them to rise to the surface.
Beads two sizes
The very common brass beads come in many sizes
Most of the beads have fairly large holes through them in order to facilitate passing the bead over the barb and the bend of the hook. If the bore is not wide enough the bead will get stuck while passing the bend. This can be overcome.

Some Europeans use slightly different beads in which both holes are uniform. Consequently, they are a bit heavier. But, more importantly, these beads are goldplated and will keep their shine. Most beads available will eventually get dull.

Tapered hole
The beads often have tapered holes for easier passing over the hook bend.
Size matters
The size of the bead will depend on a few factors: hook size, pattern and desired weight.
I've seen small flies with humongous beads - and they've worked fine. But generally the beads are chosen in sizes that harmonize with the hook and the pattern. Small fat nymphs can bear relativly larger beads than slender streamers. This is mostly an aestathic consideration, but still. Some of the problems can be overcome by using cone heads which blend better into most slender patterns.

Continue with cones
More ways to improve your tying

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