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Beadhead Nymphs

Beadhead Nymph Flies

When it comes to nymphing, many anglers swear that beadheads out-perform non-beaded flies of the exact same design, and not just because of the extra weight: after all, there are other ways besides a heavy head to ensure a fly drops deep into the water. Flashes of sunlight reflected by the shiny bead to catch the eye of opportunistic trout could be the key factor.

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The origin of Beadhead Flies

According to Austrian fly fishing expert Roman Moser, fishermen in the Italian Alps were using glass pearls to make beaded heads for their flies around the turn of the 20th Century. In 1972 an American named Ed Sisty published a 20-page guide with photos entitled ‘New Professional Methods in Tying the Nymph’, which included a beaded pattern.

Why Beadheads work so well

Nymphs are ‘prospecting’ or ‘searching’ flies; with beadheads, the intent is to tempt larger trout lurking closer to the bottom but looking upwards into the drift for food. The weight of the bead definitely helps create a more natural, head-first movement, with the bonus of an eye-catching flash. The exact reason these flies work so well might be debated, but no-one disagrees with the effectiveness of the concept. Many anglers like to use beadheads as the ‘point’ fly on a multi-fly rig: that is, the beadhead will be deepest-sitting lure on a setup that will include one (or two) more flies set closer to (or even on) the surface, collectively imitating a water-dwelling insect transitioning from pupa to adult.

Bead Head Caddis Flies

Caddis are extremely common across much of the US. When Caddis pupa move to the surface to shed their skin and become a winged adult, they turn their body into a gas-filled flotation device: a small bubble with a silvery sheen. They are particularly vulnerable at the surface as they struggle free of the pupa casing, and it’s possible that the beadhead fly represents the prospect of an impending easy meal.

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