How to tie a Beadhead Stillwater Fly


THESE plastic beadhead flies with the chartreuse/yellow or orange coloured bead are the best prospecting flies that I know.

This tying is not so much how to tie a particular named fly but more a generic method for tying a whole family of flies. The yellow head, black bodied fly shown below is one that I use if I want the fly to fish deep. The varnished body and the underlying turns of lead ensure that this fly will sink quite quickly. But the body can equally be black floss, black chenille, black Fritz or whatever, it really doesn’t matter. The weight of the fly and the pinched-off marabou tail gives a sinuous movement when retrieved with a figure-of-eight or short pull ‘wet fly’ retrieve.

My other favourite is the white body and chartreuse Beadhead. The body of this fly can be white chenille, pearl Fritz or plain white floss. You’ll find that you will soon have a favourite combination of materials.

You can put a collar hackle behind the bead if you want, one of my pals insists that this makes the fly even more deadly, but I argue that he is “gilding the lily” because the fly works just as well without it.

In the spring when the tadpoles are about, a black tungsten bead and a black body with a black marabou tail can be lethal. Then I tie them smaller on a size 12 hook making the fly three quarters of an inch (20mm) long.

This is not a complicated fly to tie. In fact, it is a very basic fly within the scope of the beginner fly-tyer, yet it can be one of the most successful of fish-catching flies. A good prospecting fly, to put on when all else fails.

Hook: Size 10 Kamasan B175

Underbody: Lead wire

Body: Black floss

Tail: Black marabou

Plastic bead: Chartreuse

Varnish: Hard As Nails, Superglue or similar


1 Thread the chartreuse plastic beadhead onto a size 10 Kamasan B175 hook and push up towards the hook eye.

2 Wrap turns of lead wire around the shank. This pushes the bead against the hook eye. Build a neat, tapered shape.


3 Break off the excess lead wire and make sure that the bead fits snug right up against the hook eye.

4 Coat the lead wire underbody with a few coats of Hard As Nails varnish, Superglue or similar to secure the lead in place.


5 Select some black floss and spin the bobbin to tighten the floss and then begin to build a body over the lead wire.

6 Tie in the marabou for the tail. At this point add a drop more varnish so that the floss is pulled down over the varnish.


7 Spin bobbin to tighten the floss and neatly wrap the floss to build up the body. The number of wraps depends on the hook size.

8 After tying off the floss, cover body with several coats of Hard As Nails or similar to build the body and get a smooth finish.


9 Ensure the body is fully coated all over and allow to dry, preferably on a rotary dryer. Two thin coats are better than one thick one.