I think of all the questions I get asked this is the one most common "Whats the best beads to use" , and to be truthful I ask that question to myself all the time when I am fishing. The best bead, the best colour, the best size ect is a serious of questions that can be only answered in the moment and time of when you are fishing.
The colour will matter on the fishes humor, environment and possible conditions on the day. The size of the bead will depend on the size of the nymph or hook you are using and the depth of water you want it to get down through. There are factors that will determine what is the best bead to use at any given time you are on the river. Through experience and having confidence in the beads you like using or a certain type and colour bead that gets you a lot of fish can be the best possible answer to choosing the right bead. But lets take a look at a few aspects on choosing beads I have discovered through my years of using them.
There is a multitude of colours you can get tungsten beads in these days, and if you are into flashy and different colours then you can load up on beads all colours and with different effects. Most of these colours will catch fish some better than others depending on the fish you are after and where you are fishing. But there are four main colours that I find the stable diet of fish world wide and they are Copper, Gold, Sliver and Black nickle (and of course pink for Grayling).
Some other colours I find effective at the moment are white, brown, dark copper and metallic orange. I will mostly use different colour beads when I am going through a beat of water for the second time to show the fish something different than the more common colours that they have seen before.
It is important that when you are buying your beads to ensure they are anodized beads and not painted, as the colours will not last on them and it wont take long at all for the paint to chip away. If you want to try and get some different colours for yourself then try burning your beads, this can result in some nice shades of the standard colours.
Sizes & Weights
The size of the bead matters greatly; as it is this that will determine the look and shape of your fly and the depth it will reach in a certain length of time. So I will normally have a whole selection of my best nymphs tied in several sizes to accommodate the different depths I could be fishing on any river or beat. Having different size beads on the same pattern could be the difference of catching or not. The size range of beads is around from 1.5mm up to 4mm generally you can get something bigger if you desire but generally this is the range most common. They tend to go up in .5mm in sizes and you can get the odd sizes such as 2.3mm 2.8mm ect also. I do stick to the 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 3.5mm and 4mm beads as I find this range of sizes is enough for me and the way I fish. If you were to tie in all sizes you would need a wheel barrow to carry the boxes with you to the river. Try not over complicate it and stick to a simple system of choosing your size beads you use.
There is one aspect of a bead I am very fussy with however; and that is the cutting or molding of the holes in the bead. I like to have a bead that has the maximum amount of metal in the bead so there for the holes at at the minimum size they can be, to give me the heaviest possible bead for that size. I don't see the point in putting on a bead on the hook with half or more of it missing. As for fitting on to the hooks the majority of beads 2mm to 3mm I tend to use size 20 or 18 Dohiku jigs if they are slotted beads and size 16 Jigs covers the other sizes. No bead on the market is 100 percent tungsten so some beads will have a better percentage of tungsten in the mix than others and all beads are made in China bar none, but take a good look at the cutting to ensure you are getting the best weight for size when you are purchasing again.
Counter versus Slotted
Again this is another debate depending on your personal preference, it will be determined by the style you tie your nymphs and the hook types you have most confidence in be it standard hooks or jig hooks. Sense the emergence of jig hooks and slotted beads most anglers tie there nymphs on them and they are very effective indeed. I use a lot of slotted beads, but I also have a lot of countersunk beads or barrel beads as they are known by some. If I am tying on light wire hooks for slim nymphs I can use Dohiku 301 dry fly hook and put countersunk beads on them. I like this combination for my dry dropper set ups as I like the way the standard hook hags under the dry. For euro nymphing it is a majority of slotted beads unless the nymphs are grubbers then I am using countersunk on curved hooks. They both have there uses and advantages. So don't be afraid to tie up a selection in both types of beads as the do fish different and on occasions can produce different results.
A good question I was asked one time was, whats more important, the bead or the fly on the hook, in seasons of late I find my self fishing less and less different patterns and having different bead colours and sizes on very simple nymphs certainly has not decreased my catch rate. Also I would find my self asking my fishing buddies not what fly are they using when they are bagging up, but what bead size and colour they are using. I do think we can put to much emphasis on the fly or nymph on occasions and get caught up in the disbelief, am I fishing the right fly when perhaps it would be more beneficial to question am I fishing the right bead, colour and weight.
beads you find best for you, but maybe going forward if you haven't put much consideration into the importance of sizes and weights and the right molding it could help you catch more fish.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and take something from it going forward. If you have any questions or queries please feel free to contact me. Also make sure and check out my website www.piscari-fly.com for all your tungsten beads, Dohiku barbless hooks, the amazing Syndicate Fly Rods, Reels, leaders and much more. Thanks for reading.