Northwest Fly Tyer

The fly tying pages of Monte Smith

The Belgian Beadhead

Posted by nwflytyer on April 5, 2009

Belgian Beadhead

Belgian Beadhead

Hook:  Std. wet fly, #10 – 18

Thread:  Black 8/0

Bead:  Nickel 1/8″

Tail (Optional):  3-4 pheasant tail fibers

Rib:  Fine copper wire

Body:  Pheasant tail fibers

Thorax:  black seal’s fur or substitute (I like to mix strand of peacock herl and seal or SLF spun together in a dubbing loop).

This variation of the classic pheasant tail nymph is simple to tie and highly effective for those times when you have to get “down and dirty” to catch fish.  Sizes range from #10-#18.

Begin by slipping a nickel-plated bead on the hook (1/8″ for sizes #10-14, 1/32″ for #16-18).  Attach a few pheasant tail fibers to create the tail, then tie in a piece of fine copper wire for the rib.  Select a section of natural colored pheasant tail feather and tie it in by the tips, working the thread to the rear of the shank then back up to the point where you will tie the body section off.  Wrap the pheasant tail forward and tie off just past the point where you will start the thorax.  Now wrap the copper wire forward in open loops in the opposite direction as you wrapped the body.  This will reinforce the delicate pheasant fibers and add durability to the fly.  Tie off the rib, and trim the excess.  Move the thread to just behind the bead and tie in two strands of peacock herl (one strand for #16-#18) for the thorax.  Wax your thread approximately 3″ if you’re so inclined and dub a sparse amount of black seal fur along the thread.  Leave it sparse and rather scruffy.  Now form a dubbing loop with your tool of choice , slip the peacock herl through it, and twist the combination together tightly to form a nice spikey dubbing rope with an inner sheen.  Wrap the rope forward to complete a pronounced thorax working it up tight to the bead.  Tie off and clip the excess.  Use a couple of half hitches to complete the fly.  You can add durability to the half hitches by placing a drop of head cement on top of the bead and then dragging the thread through it as each loop is tightened.

I fish a number of rivers in Oregon, some large, others very small.  I love to fish dry flies (who doesn’t?), have had memorable days with soft-hackled wet flies, and sing the praises of streamer fishing, but I must admit to doing a fair amount of nymphing.  My home river has sparse hatches and can be pretty “hit and miss.”  I turn to nymphing a good percentage of time in order to catch fish.  The Belgian Beadhead is a pattern I ran across a few years ago in a book detailing international trout patterns.  I modified it slightly to include the peacock herl with the seal fur in the thorax.  I like the buggy look to this nymph and the flash of the silver bead.  I prefer it to the standard pheasant tail nymph as it has saved the day for me on countless occasions, thereby proving to me that the fish like it too.

Dead drift high-stick nymphing is probably the most effective way to fish this fly (I often use the “hinge system” to get the fly deep enough), working it through riffles and moving water.  While I use it throughout the season under all kinds of conditions, it is deadly in off-color or stained water, as the flash of the bead seems to draw attention.  It has also been successful in slow water when it is crawled or hopped along the bottom.  Try it with your favorite method.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: