Bead Head Flies in Stillwater?

Gregg Lundgren

Now fishing on weekdays too!
Some previous threads touched on this enough to pique my curiosity. Opinions seem to vary quite a bit. What's yours?

Some random thoughts I've heard to provoke opinions:

Floating line... a bead head is often used just to get the fly down to an appropriate depth.

However, when using sinking lines, fishers talk about the pros/cons regarding fly action, the flash attraction of bead heads, and what it all means on either a single or double rig both casting or trolling.

A good example would be: One person feels the bead head fly produces an unnatural action. Another individual feels the bead head provides a slight jigging action that fish can't ignore. Some people feel there is a correct combination of bead head / non-bead head on a double rig.

Do you think experience or confidence drives your opinions? I think sometimes one probably leads to the other, and is self-fulfilling.:beathead:


I hope she likes whitefish
I have used a BH in both stillwater and rivers and have done well. The main reason I use them in rivers is to get them into the the zone faster. Also, I honestly believe the flash from the bead head serves as an attractor and can invoke strikes based on it getting their attention better than a non-bead head fly. That being said, in still waters where there is no current and no wind, I think a non-bead head fly would give a more realistic presentation, especially hanging under a bobber, but that's just all theory since I've used BH's almost exclusively. So my "over thinking" mind says there is a time and place for them and it's not always, but my experience says use them and be happy. If any of that makes sense...


New Member
I always wonder about the "clunk" it make when it hits the water.

I love the look of the bead heads.... but wonder if the fish do.

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
My box has some with bead heads, some without. I don't know what I'm doing though. I'll try one and if it does not work I'll try the other.
bead heads rock. I love the jigging action, and think it works extremely well. A bead head damsel or dragonfly nymph is a deadly fly in still water. If you dont like the flash, get black beads.


Sculpin Enterprises
At last year's spring Sportsmans Show at the Puyallup Fairground, Denny Rickards tied some of his seal buggers at the tying demonstration area. He was not a fan of bead heads on these flies. His attitude is that these flies are mostly representative of baitfish and baitfish don't normally swim with a jigging action. He was a fan of wrapping flies with 20 turns of lead. Rickards has strong opinions, but he is also a very successful lake guide. I don't totally agree with him because the jigging action is what you might expect from an injured baitfish and this action marks them as easy prey. Both (lead wraps vs. bead head) will work and I haven't done a side-by-side comparison to see which is more successful.

I often team up a bead head black PT nymph with a trailing damsel nymph (no weight) when fishing lakes in the late spring and summer. I used this twin rig with both a floating line and a sink tip. The bead head pulls the damsel below the surface and the lack of weight (and being at the end of the line) probably gives more action to the damsel nymph.

Opinions are like bellybuttons, everybody has one.
My take is that everything that man can do, has a tradeoff, a plus or minus if you will.
I fish both with and without weight, using beadhead and wraps of fuse wire. While the
absence of applied weight has a tendency to make the fly more natural in it's movement,
it also can inhibit the fly's ability to sink if certain materials are used. For that reason, I like
to use wool yarn for wrapping my sinking flies, when ever I can. Chenille is another good wrap
because both will absorbe water and sink. Other materials like nylon, polyester and others will
not and have a tendency to float.

I am not a professional tier and I am retired so my time is valued at a minimum. Applying lead wire
or a bead head only takes a few seconds and/or wraps.

That said, it would depend on the fly pattern on how I would wrap and fish it.

Gregg Lundgren

Now fishing on weekdays too!
Thanks for the responses so far!

cabezon... I can appreciate your thoughts regarding the double rig in your last paragraph. I have used a similar combination with great success. On the other hand, I have used large profile un-weighted flies (think big buggers or careys) as a forward fly with a long dropper to a small bead head. My thought is that the forward fly expands the zone you are fishing, and the bead head trailer follows deeper. Most likely at the depth the fish is viewing the forward fly from.

Gregg Lundgren

Now fishing on weekdays too!
I also wonder how the action might differ between a lead wire wrapped fly and a bead head fly, if say you are fishing a full sinking line? Still seems like it would retrieve with a jigging action.


Sculpin Enterprises
If I remember, Rickards' argument was that wire wraps place the weight more evenly along the fly, providing for a more level movement, more similar to a bait fish. If you stop trolling or stripping, the fly should drop on the level. A bead places the weight right up by the hook eye and provides more of a jigging action (head down when you stop and head up when you resume). I haven't seen this for myself, but that was his opinion as I remember his presentation.

I use beads quite a bit but always with a specific goal/plan in mind. There's certainly no harm in prospecting with beadhead flies, the fact that beads are sold by the thousands in flyshops all over the world testifies to their effectiveness.
Example- If I'm fishing a leech pattern, leeches swim thru the water with a vertical undulating motion. Weighting the head of a leech pattern helps mimic that motion. When your fly behaves like the real thing your chances of catching fish improve.
Another example- dragonfly nymphs, they have the ability to move forward by shooting water (body fluid) out their butt. Their forward progress is usually level and jerky with a regualr cadence for a short distance. Tie your dragon nymphs with lead underwire at mid body and you can imitate their swimming motion. When I was learning to flyfish and tie my mentor taught me my flies not only have to resemble the food fish see and feed on but they should behave in the same manner as well. His teaching has caught me many fish. Beadheads and weight appropriately placed can help achieve this and you will notice the difference in your catch rate. Luke brings up a very important point about beads being an effect attractor. Beads come in not only different colors but are made from different materials. Learn to use the sunlight/daylight/moonlight as a powerful ally in the design of and the presentation of your flies. It will kick your fishing up a notch and give you more satisfaction with your success.
I've visited with Denny at length on more than one occasion and I respect him for the system he has produced and the success it brings him. He has given me great, hard earned knowledge that improved my fishing and I thank him for sharing his knowledge. My practice is to learn from other fishermen, glean from them what will fit my style of fishing. Try new ideas and products, enjoy the experience of expanding my methods and find what works well for me.


Fishin' to the end, Oc.P
Two words for saltwater or freshwater "clouser minnow"................and "clunk" can be very good in saltwater (clunk to you, dinner bell for the fish) as well as fishing for brown trout in fresh


Left handed Gemini.
Beadheads are almost indispensible on chironomid patterns not to say I don't use patterns without but when I want one to hang straight down deep and get there fast a bead is the way to go. I also prefer my pt nymphs and haresear nymphs with a bead, even with a sinking line it helps the fly to penetrate the surface film faster which gets my fly where I want it when I want it, often times I find even with lead wraps on small nymphs that they have a tendancy to float at first until pulled under by the line, I don't like beads on my leech patterns though so on those I use lead sub. wrapped on the shank.