View Full Version : Bead Heads, Weighted Wire or Split Shot?

01-10-2008, 08:15 PM
Hey All:

So I'm very new to tying and I've been working on some small midge nymphs (size 18 and 20).

Nonconformist that I am, with nymphs I freewheel a lot, tending not to stick exactly to patterns I see in books or on the web. So my question is this:

Is there any rule as to when I should tie with a bead head versus some weighted wire? Or even simply forego incorporating weight in the fly and just use split shot?

Or is this simply a personal preference issue?

Thanks in advance,


01-10-2008, 09:10 PM
My rule of thumb with nymphs is that I put as much weight in them as I can, which often means a bead and some weighted wire. THe faster that thing gets down the better. In the smaller sizes this can get tough, and then I'll go with one or the other, plus some split shot. I don't think that there are any side effects of using weight in nymphs at all, given that they aren't so heavy that they can't even drift.....

I have seen it where fish are getting spooked by a shinny bead, especially on overcast days.... so i usually tie some nymphs with brown or black bead heads too....

Good Luck!!!


01-11-2008, 06:45 AM
I don't think there are really any "rules", so I'll give you my opinions which you are free to do with as you like. :)

I don't put a lot of weight on them.

I like the smallest possible bead for the hook size; a bigger fly can "take" a bit more weight (say a size 4 woolly bugger vs a size 12 PT nymph). A mix of bright and dark beads is good. Here's a variation on the PT that I use alot: curved hook (like a grub hook) (sizes 10-14 mostly), body is pheasant tail tied pretty far down the bend, you can use the tips as a tail, a little bit of peacock herl as a thorax, then partridge tied sparse as a hackle. Kind of a modified Soft Hackle (Spider) pattern. I will often use a small bead (either brass color or black, tungsten) as the thorax instead of peacock. Fish it down and across or up and back or however you want.

Depending on the pattern too much weight can make it lifeless. AK Best talks about having better luck with a "floating nymph" and a bit of split shot or sinking line. A popular rig for Czech nymphing is a big heavily weighted nymph, with a small unweighted one tied as a dropper. The big fly is used to get the small one to the bottom; most fish are hooked on the small fly.

Nylon mostly floats (specific gravity is barely more than 1) or sinks very slowly. A nymph will get down through the water quicker if you use a longer length of finer tippet; say a 7.5 ft leader, use a heavy butt about 3ft long, then use 4.5 ft of 4x or 5x fluorocarbon. FC is typically stronger than nylon in the same diameter, specific gravity is higher so it sinks quicker, it is "clearer" in the water and is more abrasion resistant. If you remember to cast with an open loop, you can cast bigger/heavier flies on it than you would think.

For the sizes that you are talking about 18-20, I would try doing them like a Brassie. Body is basically just wound wire (I think UTC has different colored wires available), old lamp cords are a great source (think how many size 20s you could tie from a 6 ft 18 ga cord), then a little bit of peacock at the head. The aftershaft feathers found on different body feathers is also good for a couple of turns of fluff at the head of flies.

Again, all just my opinions, I won't be offended if you tell me I'm nuts. Let us know how some of these ideas work out for you.

01-11-2008, 07:44 AM
I use a variety of things to weight my nymphs. Beads, wire, and lead wire under the body.

Hareline makes a "quick decent" dubbing which is actually like very fine steel wool. It comes in a variety of colors and I have had good luck with it. I tend to use it more for the thorax, to replace the weight of the bead. It dubs onto the thread nicely, and wraps pretty uniform.

Give it a shot.

01-12-2008, 06:40 AM

Thanks for the suggestions. Now if I can just shrink my fat fingers so its easier to work on the size 20s!