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Old 11-19-2008, 04:43 PM
 
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Default To bead or not to bead...

This fall I was fishing with my wife when she asked me, "What's the advantage of nymphing with a bead-head nymph over using a shot weight?"
Well, I'm not sure. I usually use a bead-head nymph, sometimes with a shot to go deeper. (He said to the bartender, "Give me a nymph with a shot on the side.") But I suppose an unbeaded nymph might have better action. In that I can not interview a fish, what do y'all think?
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Old 11-20-2008, 06:43 PM
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Default Re: To bead or not to bead...

I have heard it is always best to weight the fly and not add split shot if possible
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Old 11-20-2008, 08:16 PM
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Default Re: To bead or not to bead...

I was waiting for someone more knowledgeable to weigh in, but I'll give my two cents. I generally prefer beads for two reasons:

1) I think the added flash can sometimes be an attracted (although there would be times where it could be a hindrance).

2) When I'm nymphing, I almost always have some shot on, and I feel like the slight delay in the hook set due to the bend in the line at the shot can make hook-ups more difficult. I'm not sure if I'm explaining that right, but when you've got a straighter line to your bead, you can pull the line tight more quickly than if you have to lift the shot first. I realize it's only a fraction of a second, but I suspect it matters.

EDIT: I should be clear: I meant "more knowledgeable than me", not "more knowledgeable than Midwest flyfish kid," in case that read other than how I meant it.
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Old 11-20-2008, 08:30 PM
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Default Re: To bead or not to bead...

you said midwest kid was stupid... jk haha. ya I like beadheads better myself. I will use shot though if the bead doesn't get it down fast enough.
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:45 AM
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Default Re: To bead or not to bead...

Hi to all,

I very seldom fish a bead head nymph. Most fly fishers like them. In my mind I think I do better with a non weighted nymph or a body weighted nymph. I am a big fan of body weighted flies. I like a Midge with no weight and use split shot.

My favorite nymph is the Prince Nymph and I always fish it with out a bead head. In my mind I feel I get a more natural action with the fly. In the real world people fish bead head nymphs all the time and have good luck. I don't know which method is best.

A weighted fly is easier to cast than split shot. A bead head fly is mostly fished closer to the bottom. A split shot rig allows the nymph to be washed around in the currant and the split shot is closer to the bottom. With a split shot rig you can adjust the distance from the weight by how long your tippet is.

Frank
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Old 11-21-2008, 12:58 PM
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Default Re: To bead or not to bead...

Funny you happened to mention this. I should probably be the last person to respond to this because I’m probably the world’s worst nympher. I fish unweighted nymphs in or near the surface in anticipation of specific hatches, and weighted some with BHs, some with lead wraps without split shot to imitate swimming nymphs like Isonychia, and sometimes with split shot to prospect riffles. I’ve managed to catch a few fish on all methods probably more by dumb luck than anything else, but never with the kind of consistency that good nymphers seem to manage, and I have very little confidence while doing it.

But last night I was rereading Caddisflies by Gary LaFontaine and he discusses this very subject and the pros and cons of some different nymphing approaches and gives some tips. This is basically his take on it, FWIW.

Lafontaine did a study to find out where trout feed in the water column:
10% on surface
10% just below the surface film
60% in the drift area (between top and bottom)
15% bottom. Because of friction with the bottom this layer of water tends to move slower than the drift layer.
5% stray feeding

Weighted nymph (bead head or lead wrapped body), no split shot, will get on or close to the bottom but in the drift layer. (Hewitt method). As the fly drifts along, when the bottom drops off, the faster current in the drift layer tends to move the nymph up as the leader picks up speed (drag). This is sort of the traditional long line nymphing technique with tuck cast, fishing with 25-40 of line casting upstream or upstream and across.

An unweighted or weighted nymph plus split shot on the tippet, will get the split shot deeper and the nymph will drift above the split shot. (Outrigger method). As the split shot tumbles along the bottom, the leader tends to pull the nymph down into holes (following the weight of split shot). This is sort of the classic “shortline nymphing” technique, with at least a 12 leader, 9 or 10’ rod and minimal amount of fly line on the water, if any. “Casts” tend to be short flips across stream rather than upstream. The goal is to swing and raise the rod tip and control line to feel the split shot tapping along the bottom as it bounces by in the current, adding more weight as necessary. This method presents the nymph on or near the bottom.

Obviously if you can see where fish are holding, you might want to use the Hewitt (weighted nymph) method for fish in the drift layer, and outrigger (split shot) on fish on the bottom. If you can’t see the fish you can make some educated guesses and take your chances.

A lot of insect activity takes place in the form of “behavioral drift” in response to changes in the amount of daylight within an hour or so of dusk and dawn. The Hewitt method (weighted nymph no split shot) could be effective during this time, because the nymph tends to be right in the bottom and middle of the drift layer, and this is where the majority of the feeding takes place. (This might also be a good method to use in advance of an anticipated hatch as nymphs start to get more active, especially mayfly swimmer nymphs like Isonychia with imitations like a BH or weighted Prince Nymph in late spring and early fall.)

Sometimes you’ll see trout grubbing along the bottom, often in riffles or just below them. As they try and dislodge stones and root around you’ll see “flashes” as they roll on their sides. This would be a good time to use the outrigger method (split shot). If you can’t see signs of fish, during midday when there tends to be less insect activity and no obvious hatch is going on, trout have to work a little harder for their food and might be rooting around on the bottom even if you can’t see them. The outrigger method presents the nymph right at that bottom layer when fish are likely to be oriented nose down towards the bottom. BTW, this can also be a good way to prospect with a rockworm caddis larvae or stonefly nymph in riffles during midday when you’re on the stream killing time before a mayfly or caddis hatch.

Again, this is basically LaFontaine’s take, and others may have completely different experiences, but I thought you might find this interesting, especially in terms of the different techniques used in presentation with and without split shot.

peregrines
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Old 11-21-2008, 01:18 PM
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Default Re: To bead or not to bead...

Hi to all,

peregrines, thanks for your excellent post.

For those that are not familiar with the Caddisflies by Gary LaFontaine book you are missing out. It is a great book and I don't know of any thats better on the subject. Any student of fly fishing should have this book. Gary LaFontaine was a great loss to fly fishing. I belonged to his Book Mailer for many years. Just reading his catalog was an education.

Frank
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Old 11-21-2008, 01:28 PM
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Default Re: To bead or not to bead...

Quote:
EDIT: I should be clear: I meant "more knowledgeable than me", not "more knowledgeable than Midwest flyfish kid," in case that read other than how I meant it.
LOL

Beads all the way but that's coming from a Steelheader. It's mighty dark down in the holes and I too think the extra sparkle helps attract em'. It's all preference, though. Really depends on the situation...water flow, visibility, etc.
I agree with what the "not as smart as jcl" guy stated about fly weight over adding weight.

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Old 11-21-2008, 07:28 PM
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Default Re: To bead or not to bead...

Honestly, I just don't need to post as much anymore because Frank beats me to posting the same points.

Only difference here is I do tend to fish beadheads more often. I also think you get more movement out of unweighted nymphs, but beadheads are just too damn convenient. I also think the flash/glo of the bead attracts fish, and that beadhead nymphs are easier to tie than wrapping lead into a nymph.
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Old 11-23-2008, 10:59 PM
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Default Re: To bead or not to bead...

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcl View Post
I was waiting for someone more knowledgeable to weigh in, but I'll give my two cents. I generally prefer beads for two reasons:

1) I think the added flash can sometimes be an attracted (although there would be times where it could be a hindrance).

2) When I'm nymphing, I almost always have some shot on, and I feel like the slight delay in the hook set due to the bend in the line at the shot can make hook-ups more difficult. I'm not sure if I'm explaining that right, but when you've got a straighter line to your bead, you can pull the line tight more quickly than if you have to lift the shot first. I realize it's only a fraction of a second, but I suspect it matters.
JCL, you make a lot of sense here. I hadn't thought about the "indicator" delay you might encounter between a nymph either bead or body weighted, versus the "lag" that - alternatively - a weight added to the tippit would cause.
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