Tying Flies with Beads

Alaskan Trout and Steelhead anglers have known about fishing with beads for years.  Bead fishing is an effective way to imitate fish eggs.  Fishing with beads has really exploded here in the midwest over the past few years especially when targeting fall steelhead . While most anglers use beads by themselves when targeting fish there are a few more ways to fish a bead and incorporate them into your fly tying.

Flesh Flies

Learning lessons from the Alaskan experience here is another pattern that works well when your tying flies with beads, the Flesh Fly.  All good guides in Alaska know the benefits of fishing flesh at a certain point in the season.  This lesson was taught to me by Jeff Topp guide at Angry Eagle Lodge.  Jeff had us swing flesh flies into the woody jams along one of his favorite fly out streams.  The bigger rainbows that want a larger meal would crush this offering.  Below is one of Jeff’s flesh patterns incorporating beads and two tone rabbit strips.

Tying with Beads

Bead Flesh Fly

  • Diachii 2220 Size 2-8
  • Rabbit Flesh Strips Two Tone
  • Flesh Tone Marabou
  • Any color Beads size 8-12mm
  • Attach Beads with hard mono

Alevin Patterns

You can use beads to imitate eggs in several ways. First the spawning phase when salmon are depositing eggs in the stream. As mentioned previously they are great egg imitations. Beads can also be used in Alevin imitations. You use the bead to imitate the egg sac when the Alevin’s start to hatch.  When tying this pattern with beads to imitate Alevins egg sac you have a variety of colors to choose from.  This makes it easy to vary the colors for this simple baitfish pattern.  The most common egg color to use is some sort of orange. However, as we have learned over the years, pinks can be really effective when imitating alevin during the spring.  Make sure to try a mottled shrimp pink bead when tying this pattern.  Size 6mm or 8mm work best for this pattern.

Alevin’s need to be in your Spring Steelhead fly box if they are not already, one of our top 5 patterns in the spring for catching steelhead.  Along with Ed’s Alevin  make sure to also tie the Fry and Eggs Pattern.  This versatile pattern can be swung on a tight line, or dead drifted along the bottom.  In the spring dead drifting minnows is highly effective.

Fry and Eggs Pattern

Hot Spot Spey Patterns

One of the simplest ways to effectively imitate the successful steelhead pattern the Egg Sucking leech is to add a Trout Bead to your line.  Just add the bead to the tippet before you tie your leech to the tippet.  Nothing really fancy about this method.  For those that have fished the egg sucking leech, you have seen the catching power of this pattern.  I’ll argue that leech’s are not running around the river bottom with egg’s sticking to the front of their face.  However something about the contrast in colors seems to attract fish to this pattern’s profile.

trying with beads

Classic Skunk Spey Pattern

Adding a bead to the front of a pattern is probably the most common way to add color or contrast.  For years steelhead anglers have been adding “hot spots” to the back of patterns.  An old classic pattern called the Skunk has caught countless steelhead.  As you can see in the image above a “hot spot” of chartreuse has been added to the rear of the pattern.  The boys from Mad River Outfitters did a pretty good video (below)  about another way you can add a hot spot to our more modern patterns, using a bead.

Beads have been used for many years in Alaska to catch trout and steelhead. Anglers are just cracking the surface of all the uses for beads.  Hopefully this blog post will help you tie a few more effective patterns during the steelhead season.  Maybe it will help you create few new patterns!