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How To Choose the Right Fly Tying Bead

Choosing The Right Fly Tying Bead

Fly Tying BeadsChoosing the Right Bead Head for flies is very important.  The wrong sized bead will either not fit over the hook or will completely swallow the fly.  There are many different types and sizes of Bead Heads for Fly Tying.  Choosing the right one can be confusing and hard to do.  Below is a guide on How To Choose the Right Fly Tying Bead.

How To Quickly Add A Bead Head To A Hook Video

Fly Tying Bead Sizing
Fly Tying Beads are sized either in Millimeters or Inches.  The right sized bead makes the fly perfectly proportional and easily fits around the bend of the hook.  Below is a guide to choosing the right bead size.  This guide is a general guide.  Bead size can vary depending on the style of hook.  Some curved hooks are more difficult to get a bead around the bend.  You have to sometimes de-barb the hook in order for the bead to clear the bend.  Fly Tying Beads fit a range of hooks.  If you are not really sure of the style of hook and the bead, choose the bead that has the hook size right in the middle of the range.  For example for a size 18 hook, a 5/64″ bead has a range from 16, 18 or 20.  #18 is right in the middle and a 5/64″ bead is perfect for all size 18 hooks.

Fly Tying BeadsAll Metal Beads have two different sized holes in the bead.  The smaller hole is made to go against the eye of the hook.  The larger hole faces backwards and lead wire can be wrapped around the hook and slid into this space.  The larger space on the back of the bead aids in sliding the bead around the shank of the hook and makes it easier to put on.  This is called counter sinking.

Fly Tying Bead Head Sizing Chart
1/16″ or 1.5MM – Hook Sizes 20-24
5/64″ or 2.0MM – Hook Sizes 16-20
3/32″ or 2.4MM – Hook Sizes 14-18
7/64″ or 2.8MM – Hook Sizes 12-16
1/8″ or 3.2MM – Hook Sizes 10-14
5/32″ or 4.0MM – Hook Sizes 8-12
3/16″ or 4.5MM – Hook Sizes 6-10
1/4″ or 5MM – Hook Sizes 4-8

Brass Beads
Fly Tying Brass BeadsBrass Beads are the most common type of beads used for fly tying.  Brass Beads are inexpensive, metal style beads.  Brass Beads usually come in several different colors, both plated and painted.  The most common are Gold, Silver, Black and Copper.  Brass Beads have been the standard for many years and add a little bit of weight and flash to the fly.  This is the style of bead that is used on most flies.

Tungsten Beads
Tungsten Fly Tying BeadsTungsten Beads are similar to brass beads in their appearance.  In fact, they look exactingly the same.  The only difference is that Tungsten Beads are much heavier than brass beads, almost 3 times heavier (depending on the brand).  This means less weight has to be used on the leader or tippet, giving the fly a much more natural drift and presentation.  Tungsten is non toxic, harder and much denser than brass beads.  Tungsten is also much more expensive, that is the only down side to Tungsten Beads.

Glass Beads
Glass Fly Tying BeadsGlass Beads are great for midges and small flies.  Glass Beads are available in TONS of colors.  The most common used color is Clear.  Clear Glass Beads imitate a air bubble on a fly and are often used on mayfly and midge emergers.  The other great hing about glass beads is that they are very small.  Glass Beads are the best beads for flies size 20 and smaller.  Glass Beads are inexpensive and are available in hundreds of colors.

Faceted Beads
Faceted Fly Tying BeadsFaceted Beads are available in both Brass and Tungsten.  Faceted Beads are not completely round, they have flat faceted around the entire bead.  These facets add more material to the bead, compared to a standard round bead.  This makes faceted beads heavier than standard beads.  These beads are great on stoneflies, Czech nymphs and streamers.  Faceted beads are usually made in larger sizes, so they are normally used on larger flies.

One Response to How To Choose the Right Fly Tying Bead

  1. […] Re: 1st meat whistle I wouldn't worry about the color substitution – can be very effective to sub colors and try new combinations. I do it all the time whether it is subbing colors or materials to get a different look or effect while in the water, or just because of the materials I have. On the one hand it can be smart to first learn a pattern before making changing (sometimes there are good reasons a certain color or material is used), trying to have every material a pattern calls for, in every specific color can be crazy making (and bad for the budget). Finding something similar or changing things up is normal and can still create fish-catching flies. Sizing things like beads and eyes can be tough. At some point you can develop a bit of an eye for it. However there are charts available to give guidance. I linked some below, there may be better out there, but I found these pretty quickly. For quick reference, I put some masking tape on the boxes where I keep my beads with the general sizing information for beads, cones, and eyes. Creekside Angling Company | Fly Tying How To Choose the Right Fly Tying Bead | Bead Head Fly Tying Information and Sizing Chart […]

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