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.