Bead Shy

By Stephen Tomasovich


I started tying flies shortly after I got serious about the sport of fly fishing. I remember an accomplished angler told me to limit my use of gold beads. Theory being that trout over the years had seen so much of that color they were “shy” to gold. During that time, tungsten beads were just being introduced, and most flies that had beads used brass. The highest percentage of these seemingly used gold brass beads so it made sense to me that fish might shy away. After all, the top bass anglers always taught us to “show them something new”.

Fast forward several years and we have so many bead choices. All types of colors, shapes, mottled, painted, and metallic are available. The popularity of euro-nymphing has magnified the use of Tungsten beaded flies. In fact, I don’t ever really use split shot anymore, regardless of what fishing style I am utilizing.

So, is it possible that trout have become “bead shy”? Are there times that the best option is a good old fashioned lead wrapped nymph with a thread head? I think there are at least two circumstances that this may be the case.

One is in areas where fish are pressured and see a lot of flies. The guides I use at my fly shop fish this type of water most of the time. We have had several days where the fish refused to eat anything with a bead on it but were often fooled with non-beaded flies.

The second area I see this happening in is slower water, especially deeper pools. Wiser fish will take note of the sink rate of your offerings. While we usually strive to get down to the strike zone as quickly as we can, there are times that the slow descent will induce more strikes. Fish can be more likely to come up and eat a natural slowly sinking presentation than hang low and eat a fly with a lot of weight.

The bottom line is, you should be carrying some beadless flies. Consider tying or buying some flies with lead wraps. Another option is to hide the bead in the thorax on flies. Some truly unweighted flies (especially soft hackles) are also a smart bet at times, and there is nothing wrong with using split shot to submerge them…even when euronymphing.

Hopefully, if you don’t tie, you have a fishing buddy who doesn’t mind spinning you up a few. If you can’t find the flies you are looking for, reach out to me and I will point you in the right direction.

Fish on! Big T

Stephen “Big T” Tomasovich is the owner of Big T Fly Fishing, Outfitter and Ecommerce Fly Shop. Visit them at 106 Grand Ave, Suwanee, Georgia, or look them up online at