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Sizing Beadheads
By Steven McGarthwaite


I saw this on the Fly Tying Bulletin Board, and thought I would use it for a "Tying Tip" Article ~ Steven

"I recently had some great success with a bead head pattern that I bought last year. Any help in matching bead/cone head sizes to hook size would be greatly appreciated. I only have two sizes of beads 5/32 and 1/8. Is there a range of hook sizes, am I limited to just one size? I have "medium" cone heads and plan to wrap some Bead Head Nymph's and "Wool Sculpins," the medium in cones is pretty big!" ~ myS&toes


Beads come in many styles, sizes and weights. And there are charts that show which size Bead to use for which size hook (but I find these Bead charts, are of no value). All hooks are not created equal. Different hooks have different designs to the curve of the hook, and this curve is what the Bead has to get around. I have found with most hooks I use, I have to smash the barb to place the Bead unto the hook (this is okay, since I fish barbless ).

Do not ever bend the hook's curve for placing a Bead unto a hook. This only weakens the hook. If the curve's shape is changed to place a Bead onto the hook, the hook's curve will do one of the following:

    1. The hook will break at the curve and you will lose a fish.

    2. The hook will straighten out at the curve and you will lose a fish.

I try to size the Bead I wish to use judging the proportion of the Bead in relation to the hook. Sometimes it is a tight fit, and I have to use a needle nose pliers to get the Bead around the hooks curve. But I do not ever, bend the hook's curve, to get the Bead Head on the hook.

Once you have the Bead on the hook (you may encounter this problem), the eye of the hook is maybe too small, for the Bead to stay on the hook. Or you may have put the Bead on over the hook. This you can correct by forming a head behind the eye, using thread, and whip finishing it. Then you will have a 'stop' so the Bead Head will not come off at the eye.

Another method of getting a bead around the bend, is to crimp the bead with pliers, to make the hole more oval, to allow the bead to move around the bend.

Beads are not just placed at the eye of the hook, there are patterns that call for them elsewhere on the hooks shank. Bead Heads are usually just a substitution for non-lead wire, used for weighting the fly hook. The placement of weight on a hook, will change the way a hook maneuvers in the water. ~ Steven McGarthwaite


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