Bead or not to bead

(Adam Trahan) #21

I highly suggest you do the opposite.

Reflect on fishing (without the Internet) when you contribute to this thread, do not take the internet to the stream. Trust me on this.

Beads aren’t a dead drift technique, it is a tight line technique for me. Fish hook themselves a lot of the time.

Hook choices are super important.

The point, bend shape, eye, all of this is important to my experience.

My experience.

Todoroki-san is an expert Japanese fisherman. There are lessons in his contributions. Ishigaki sensei uses beads, just curious about your friend and your conversation, what did you find out? What is different than last week.

Please do not consider my questions to you as harassment, it is opposite. You like tenkara, so do I. You are respectful and we can learn by sharing what we know.

Beads do not define tenkara. It’s really a anglers choice and it’s just one of many choices you get to make that have no bearing wether I think you are tenkara enough.

That’s not me.

(Adam Trahan) #22

Using beads is a technique but not a primary approach to mountain stream fishing. I use them in my version of tenkara. I vary the size of tungsten bead depending on depth and flow. I use the lightest as possible. I don’t use them as attractor portion of the kebari, purely for sink, NOW.

The length of the rod and line and the depth of water can be limiting to catching trout. Beads effectively extend the reach of a tenkara rod without lengthening the line. I use a formulae of rod length plus 1.5m for my line length. I rarely go shorter unless I’m in steep gradient forested stream, then I short line the rod to 1 to 1.

This has been fun, I’m out of words for now.

(James Hopkins) #23

To be honest I shamelessly stole that technique from the competition guys doing euro nymphing.

(Gressak) #24

Adam, I am thankful for your participation. Without participation there is no forum. I would never feel that your or anyone’s comment as harassment.

Regarding my taking the thread to the stream. This is not a negative thing and often its challenging to understand ones intuition or stand on a topic without deeper reflection on it. It did not affect my enjoyment or my fishing, it just allowed me to dig deeper to what I am getting at.

Setting is often key. Most senarios, I do not need a bead.
This winter the water has been cooking and if you see the pics you can see why a bead might be necessary. White water and short deep pools…some 3-4 '. Believe it or not, I skipped the beads here and caught a nice count without them.

this is down hill…

I will sometimes tight line a bead, but mostly in slower water. One could argue tight lining is a dead drift…unless you are manipulating them. I also will swing them with some success, but trust me that I catch the lions share by applying slack and allowing the fly to travel where the water and gravity will take it. This goes for beads and unweighed kebari. Tight lining with this water really prevents the fly from getting where it needs to go. These winter fish are deep. I do follow the tippet with my line, but only apply tension to check on the fly or to move it along if it has stalled on structure.

One other note…most folk do not fish winter. Winter fishing and fishing the other 3 seasons…are extremely different. The fish behave differently.

I am 100% positive that your approach works…just as I am 100% certain my method works too. This may be a preference thing, it may also be a variance in experience. There could be things I do not undertand about your approach and could equally be conditional. I understand Czech nymphing employs a vertical tight line drift. I will use that approach but only if the water I am targeting has a more uniform current…as found in a low gradient or slower moving water.

(Gressak) #25

I found out that the discover tenkara folk have material that discuss the use of beads as tenkara and was in general reminded that this whole sport continually has some grave level miscommunication and things get lost in interpretation. Most of what all of us run on, is what is filtered to us. Relying on that info as truth may be an error.

In general, I regret speaking the word tenkara in this thread…or untenkara. I should have just kept to the facts that I do not enjoy fishing beads even when they are the only option that works and explain why.

One of my other notes was not touched on at all. The use of stimulant flies. Flies with flash and their effect on dormant fish. Its a shame as I see that as an interesting topic…especially with winter fish. I am going to try some experiments with flashy flies this winter…and will save it for another thread.

(Adam Rieger) #26

This is a great post…I wanted to share my thoughts here as an angler who is fascinated by Tenkara but is by no means an expert! And @Gressak I know you did not mean to talk about beads as Untenkara or get into the what is Tenkara discussion but it is interesting too.

To me one of the key aspects of Tenkara fishing is not focusing on changing gear (lines, flies, rods, etc.) FIRST in order to fish…you change your tactic and approach first. So once you have decided what rod, line and fly to use given the place, day and weather…you go with altering techniques to succeed in catching fish. Part of this frame of mind includes using general impressionistic flies…not specific insect matching patterns. No Match the Hatch.

Nothing about a general impressionistic pattern means a bead cannot be a component. I think you see less of them around in the tenkara community because a bead to some degree eliminates surface or close to surface options…whereas unweighted flies do not completely eliminate deep presentations…so…the unweighted fly is more versatile.

But in the winter with high fast water…fish often will go no where near the top parts of the water column and so by no means is a weighted fly with a bead not now a good choice for a general pattern.

I do though, as @Gressak, comments suggest for learning and skill development, those interested to try NOT to use beads and weighted flies for at least a chunk of the season. I also highly suggest that everyone try one single pattern as well for a bit of time just to show yourself that you CAN catch fish without changing flies.

Back to beads…I think the use of a modest weighted bead and a stiff hackle is a GREAT tenkara fly. I began using these a few years ago and find them very useful for getting deep…feeling the connection to the fly AND manipulating them! I also think keeping the weight low and the body sparse give you solid sink rates without feeling like you are lobbing a ton of lead.

Another go to fly for me when needing to go deep and in colder times of year AND having access to a plunge is a North Country pattern called a Royal Charlie.

Sparse body with wire rib…herl head…partridge hackle again sparse. The “bling” of the wire and herl draw a lot of attention. I think “flash” in the winter is another big part of catching fish and often wonder if the shine of a bead does that too. Anyhow the Royal Charlie casted into a plunge of water will take it down to the bottom…if given enough slack. You must remain patient as the fly churns in the tumult…it will eventually pop out into the flow on the bottom…and be ready because that is when the fish grab! Another technique I use is to cast downstream to just above the plunge and let the fly go over the plunge…holding the line tight enough to let the fly go down but not move out of the tumult…I then move my rod tip off to one side of the plunge gently “leading” the fly out of the rough water into the slower water.

Another old school of UK patterns from Devonshire are like North Country Spiders but with stiff hackles…these flies are built heavy and thick or sparse…below are two examples.

Anyhow…sometimes conditions are just best with a little more weight and I think using a bead does not detract from the ability to fish a bunch of manipulation techniques. I too don’t enjoy fishing really heavy beads.

(Peder) #27

Great looking flies @arieger. Whether it’s North Country spiders or Devonshire flies, many of the “traditional” (I’ve grown to strongly dislike that word) British flies share many similarities with kebari.

(todoroki toshirou) #28

I am thinking the same way

There is a record that Western style flies were imported from Portugal in the 1600s
Importation of not only hook but also various feathers was done actively
The research results of Western style flies are also used in “KEBARI” in Japan
It may have changed to match the mountain stream of Japan
There is the same thing as “Red Tag” in the old pattern of “KEBARI”
Peacock which does not grow naturally in Japan means that it is commonly used for “KEBARI”

Flymph & Tenkara Kebari・・・Conceptually similar

Flymph・・・James Leisenring
“A wingless artificial fly with a soft, translucent body of fur or wool which blends with the undercolor of the tying silk when wet, utilizing soft hackle fibers easily activated by the currents to give the effect of an insect alive in the water, and strategically cast diagonally upstream or across for the trout to take just below or within a few inches of the surface film.”
・・・The Art of Tying The Wet Fly and Fishing The Flymph; J.E. Leisenring, V.S. Hidy, 1971.

Happy New Year
A great year everyone

(David S Riley) #29

A very interesting thread.
I tie quite a few flies these days with beads. However my fly fishing is restricted to mainly deep slowflowing rivers or a deep canal, where I target English coarse fish species, such as perch, dace, bleak or roach. My use of beads is mostly for attraction purposes, preferring to use a silver lined glass seed bead. I find a silver lined crystal clear Toho glass seed bed size 11/0 or 15/0 is perfect for simulating an air bubble. I am sure you are all aware that a fly when it FIRST enters the water quite often has an air bubble in the wool/fur/ hair body dressing, which in turn simulates the ‘gas bubble’ that a hatching fly produces on its way to the surface.

The beauty of incorporating a glass seed bead in your dressing means that every time you cast, the ‘air bubble’ is always there.

See photo below

Of course if one needs to weight a fly to get down quickly then a silver tungsten bead is effective, especially in fast water. However if I want to weight a fly to get down (sometimes as deep as 14/16ft) I prefer usefuse wire or lead wire in addition to the water absorption property of wool dressing of my fly/bug.

Personally I think for the Tenkara, or Fixed Line Fly fisherman, ( I regard myself as the latter) glass seed beads are the way forward especially if some attraction/hot spot is required. They are cheap too!

Here are what I use - Toho silver lined glass seed beads size 15/0 (smallest size, for larger hooks #12 etc size 11/0 is used)

I prefer to use the silver lined glass seed bead as the internal diameter area of the bead is silver and helps reflect the colour of the bead.

Here is a photo showing a silver lined citrine yellow Toho 15/0 bead

My style of fly fishing requires a slow controlled /pulsed descent of the fly/kebari/bug/nymph/ midge in the slow flowing water.


PS here is an example of a crystal clear silver lined glass seed bead being used in a midge pupa dressing.

For plenty more examples google Pat Dorsey, a well known Colorado guide/author

(Evan R.) #30

Thanks for sharing those patterns, David!

(Gressak) #31

Yes thanks!!! I will have to investigate those glass beads.

(Mike Shelton) #32

I have that book and the 1941 original book. I’m glad I got them in the late 1970’s because the used books are kind of expensive now. ><))))))*>

There is some good information in these books. Sly Nemes also has some excellent books.

(Adam Rieger) #33

Interesting to hear a bit of the history on how some western patterns may have come over in the 1600s! And @Peder I totally agree on the similarities.

If curious…check out Robert Smith’s blog here… and you will see that some very old grayling flies (“Red Tag” included) are literally the exact same pattern as some kebari. @Paul_Gaskell has done some presentations on this matter at UK fly fishing and tying expos.

If interested in the stiff hackle wet fly school out of Devonshire zone…check out the writings of H.C. Cutcliffe “The Art of Trout Fishing on Rapid Streams” you can get it for free at along with Halford, Stewart and many of the other classics.

@CM_Stewart came to Tenkara from a deep interest in old traditional western fly fishing techniques…pre-invention of the reel…days of Walton… He wrote a nice article about that in Tenkara Angler Magazine.

I find all of this stuff fascinating and the interconnection of humanity across the world even long ago is amazing.

(Vladimir Bushclyakov ) #34

Thank you very much for the link, I really liked the site, a lot of interesting articles.

(todoroki toshirou) #35

There was a PDF

(Mike Shelton) #36

Thank you so much for this website. I did not know it existed. This is awesome. :wolf:
I hope you are doing well. I was showing my son-in-law, Stewart, the kebari you had tied.
He was amazed at you craftmenship and skill.

(todoroki toshirou) #37

I would like to thank your kind comments

(David Walker) #38

Assuming the answer chosen is - to bead.
What is the answer to - What color beads are preferred / recommended? Or does it matter what color is used?

I’ve never tied a beadhead fly. Though I have fished with them a few times. Either ones I purchased or ones sent to me by friends. The question only recently arose after receiving an email from J Stockard Flyfishing (because in the past I have ordered Stonfo or other tying tools from them )- offering 25% off of Firehole tungsten beads with promo code - stones25. Though perhaps other brands are lower cost even without a discount.!more

Maybe something new for me to try doing to motivate some fly tying. The urge has been low lately.

(Gressak) #39

Peder recently has been fishing that brand of beads and leveraging on the hotspot red coloration.

I have used black or gold. Naturalistic vs flash…depending on what the fish want and my mood.

(David Walker) #40

Thanks, yep I agree, fish also have their moods about what moves them to move and take. :wink: