It’s that time of year again. Our early run salmon (namely king, chum, and sockeye) are in full spawning mode, and because of that our rainbow trout and dolly varden are impatiently waiting for any lone salmon egg that happens to come tumbling down river.
Salmon eggs are an easy meal for trout and dollies in our neck of the woods, and therefore we fish a lot of beads during the back half of our season. Not only are beads the most effective imitation of salmon eggs (call it matching the hatch if you like), when pegged above the hook they’re also far safer on the fish than an egg pattern tied directly onto a hook, and that’s a win, win.
However, we find that many of our guests have never rigged a bead before, so today we present you with three different methods for rigging beads for trout.
1. Pegging Beads
Pegging beads is by far the most common way to rig beads. First, thread your bead onto the leader and tie on your hook. Then, position the bead 1.5 – 2 inches above your hook (check your local regulations) and jam a toothpick into the bottom opening of the bead until it is tight. Finally, break the tooth pick off flush with the opening of the bead. If done right, this will ‘peg’ the bead roughly 2 inches above your hook with little slippage. While a toothpick is probably the most common pegging material, other materials such as 80-100 monofilament or even weed whacker cord is often used as well.
Pros: Quick, cheap, and effective.
Cons: For extra wary trout, some believe the small piece of toothpick showing out the ends of the bead doesn’t create the most natural imitation of an egg, although that’s not usually an issue on our river.
2. The Bead Knot
Another popular way to rig beads is with a simple bead knot. First, slide your bead onto the leader. Then, thread the end of the leader back through the bead so that the bead is now threaded on a loop. Next, wrap the hook end of your leader around the loop 5-7 times, and pull tight. If done correctly, the knot will seat inside the hole of bead leaving nothing but a strand of mono on the outside of the bead. Finish the rig by attaching the hook with your favorite tippet to fly knot. For an illustration of the bead knot, click here.
Pros: No peg material required, and the least amount of slippage out of all other methods. Tip: If using light monofilament or fluorocarbon tippet, we recommend threading the leader through the bead twice for a better hold.
Cons: Because the hook is tied on after the bead is positioned, proper hook placement can be tricky without a little practice. Leader damage can also occur over time.
3. The Stopper Knot
Arguably one of the most effective methods, a simple stopper knot is a great method of rigging a bead when ultimate stealthiness is the primary concern. While rigging is a little more time consuming, the bead is allowed to free float along the leader for a more natural presentation. Plus, the position of the bead can be adjusted very easily.
First, slide your bead onto the leader, and tie on your hook. Next, using a separate piece of 15-20 lb. Maxima, tie a simple 5 or 6 turn nail knot onto your leader. Position knot and tighten down 1.5 – 2 inches above your hook.
Pros: More natural presentation, easy to adjust bead position, no leader damage.
Cons: The most time consuming to rig.
Mark B. says
Great information for novice and expert alike. We prefer the pegged toothpick method, but that’s just an “old school” preference. It’s a good idea to take a full range of decomposing egg colors from bright red through shades of orange and finally peach or pale pink for a “dead egg”. That color can often be the best. We also use a two-bead set up where the first bead is a bright red or fluorescent orange and the bead above the hook is a glow orange (muted) or the peach. Bead fishing is challenging and fun. Highly recommended for anyone heading to Alaska.
Jere Crosby says
Many articles, and strong opinions regarding placing an egg several inches above the hook as nothing more than snagging!!! Whatcha think?
“placing an egg several inches above the hook as nothing more than snagging!!!”
Regulation is the bead must be fixed within 2 inches, (not several) or free sliding. Still this does occasionally result in fish hooked outside of the mouth, which is technically a snag. But the fish willfully eats the egg and gets hooked, so it is not really intentionally snagged. Nearly everyone who fishes beads is not trying to snag fish. If they are, they are clueless.
Besides using the toothpick, I have started using bobber stops to secure the bead.
Two other methods that were widely used to fish bead eggs prior to pegging was to tie the bead to the hook with a loop of mono or to melt the bead directly to the hook. these methods still work well but may increase the incidents of deep hook mortality over pegging beads. Many fly only places also require something tied to the hook, not a bare hook when pegging beads.
Skip Wilson says
This is a great set for catch and release trout! When the spawn is on trout generally gorge themselves. Instead of “sipping” like a trout would on a dry fly…trout will generally gulp an egg right down. Hooking them deeply into their gill cavity. This rig ensures a clean release without loosing your rig or the trout’s mortality.
I read somewhere on the net that those cheap silicon rubber baster brushes will give you an ample supply of bead pegs. I picked up an orange one for under a dollar – each tapered ‘bristle’ can peg several beads and there’s about 60 bristles. Just pull a bristle through the bead and trim it flush. Stealthy, colour coordinated, fully adjustable, won’t stress your line like a toothpick, cost effective… it’s a great tip!
Kyle Shea says
Great tip indeed, Ralph! We’re on it. Thanks for sharing!
Jacqueline Willems says
I just found beads in my canned salmon. I was wondering what the heck the beads were for. After reading your blog, I’m no longer mystified.
Seems like trout like these everywhere. They work well on the salmon in the Great Lakes too. Especially 8 millimeter natural colors which can look frighteningly like the real thing. Steelhead love them. Angler’s Emporium makes some good ones if you can find them.