Illawarra Flyfishers Club

Beadhead Nymph


Text and Photos by Andrew Susani

Hook #10 - #16 standard to medium length shank
Thread 6/0 or 8/0 for smaller flies
Body Beadhead to suit the hook size and squirrel fur, seals fur or  similar for dubbing
Tail 3 or 4 hackle fibres
Ribbing Gold or copper wire
Wing Case Black crow, turkey or black raffia

Beadheads have been around for a while now, and offer a very attractive, streamlined way of weighting a fly. In the past, this was achieved by using lead wire wrapped around the shank, or by tying in dumbbell or bead chain eyes. Beadheads and coneheads can be used on just about any wet fly to create a fly that not only gets down deep, but it also gives the fly a nice bobbing action on the retrieve. 

Tying Procedure

1. Slide the bead over the point and push it up behind the eye.

2. Start the thread on the hook shank above the hook point. Tie in a few hackle fibres so that they extend a few millimetres behind the bend of the hook.

3. Tie in the copper wire. 

4. Start the dubbing at the tail end of the fly. When you start to dub the body, remember to use as little dubbing as possible on the thread - it is much easier to do a couple of thin layers rather than one big ugly thick layer.

5. Dub an even body of fur up to the bead. Wind a few turns of dubbing behind the bead, then push it up under the bead using your fingernails. This fills the beadhead's widened bore with dubbing and keeps it relatively secure on the hook shank.
6. Dub a tapered body of fur and leave the thread hanging about halfway along the hook shank. 
7. Wind the copper wire evenly around the tail end of the fly, tie it down and trim the excess.
8. Tie in the wing case material (turkey fibres pictured) so that it points out towards the back of the fly.

Some anglers believe that wing cases are very important features on a nymph fly as a prominent wing case indicates that a nymph is swimming up to the surface to hatch. If you make them dark or shiny, they will stand out more.  

9. Dub some more fur around the thorax to bulk it out and to cover any thread wraps.
10. Pull the wing case over the top of the thorax and tie down just behind the beadhead. 
11. Whip finish the thread behind the bead. If you like, add a tiny drop of varnish to the thread wraps - usually I can see the thread wraps at this stage, so I don't bother with the varnish.

You can make the body messy by teasing out the fibres with a needle or a piece of velcro (the hooked side). This can suggest legs and make the fly look more lifelike in the water.