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Bison Beadbelly

Posted by Sandy 
Bison Beadbelly
October 01, 2017 04:27PM

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle ran a story 20 or so years ago about a Scottish working man who had tied flies for most of his life, who had never been able to afford to fly fish. So when he retired he moved to Ennis Montana where access to fishing is public and free.

“I’m thrilled,” they quoted him. This seemed so alien and bizarre at first. I couldn’t imagine wanting to tie without any way to fish with what came off the vise. And fly tiers don’t make much money anywhere, no matter what, so this tier clearly made flies because he loved it.

But gradually it sank in. Fly tying is part of a big picture Venn diagram where fishing and fly tying overlap but aren’t congruent. Even for me in some respects. The new wave of ultra-realistic fly tyers who sometimes spend days or even weeks working on a single fly, don’t really intend to fish with their creations.

I want my flies to be fishable but they don’t necessarily have to catch more fish. That’s not a requirement. I like flies that are fast and easy to tie. Most of the time. But complicated is fun too. At the very least I want my flies to work just as well as any other. And most of all I want to enjoy the tying process.

Some of my designs, in other words, don’t catch more fish. They catch just as many. And I like the way they look. And I enjoy making them. I think the Beadbelly nymph fits that category.

I find them easy enough to make but I don’t have any argument in their favor other than “I like the way they look. And they fish well too.”

There is, on the other hand, at least one practical argument in their favor. These are extended body nymphs tied on a curved shank down eye scud hook. When you place a bead at or near the apex of the curved shank the down-eye forces the fly to flip over while drifting. So the hook rides up. They hook more reliably that way and snag less too. That is a strong argument in favor.

Beadhead nymphs with straight shanks where the bead is placed right behind the eye have no tendency to ride with the hook pointing up. Looks like I’ve contradicted myself again. The Beadbelly does work better.
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