Like many steelheaders, I have become a firm believer in the effectiveness of beads (especially when fished under a float) over the past several years. There’s no denying that there are times when they work better than anything else.
Up to this point, all of my bead use has been with the hard plastic variety…but I have been noticing more and more anglers using soft plastic beads as well. I’m always game to learn some new tricks, so I decided to dig a little deeper into this whole “soft egg” concept and recently talked with Brandon Wedam of BnR Tackle.
Wedam is a die-hard steelhead fisherman and his outfit manufactures and sells a wide array of soft beads that have become very popular in the coldwater world. I asked him what he thinks the advantages of using soft beads are.
“Hard beads work great but I think there are times when the soft ones can work better,” he says. “It seems like they have an edge on pressured fish — especially in low, clear conditions.”
He believes that the soft feel of the beads in those situations may contribute to the fish hanging on just a bit longer.
“Im starting to hypothesize that with beads there are lots of nips and near misses, says Wedam. “With the soft ones they are more likely to carry it around for a longer period of time. Catch some trout on them and you’ll see that first hand. The bobber will dance and the trout will be down there just chewing away — they really hold on.”
Wedam says that soft beads are neutrally buoyant so they drift in a more natural fashion than the hard ones do, which can help produce more bites when the fish are being difficult.
Another cool advantage of soft beads, particularly the ones in BnR’s system, is you can switch out sizes and colors without having to do any cutting or retying. That’s pretty sweet considering I normally have to cut my leader at the swivel and then side the bead and stop off if I want to switch.
“I like to fish some small, tight water where you know the fish are going to see your bead,” he says. “If I don’t get bit on the first cast or two, I can easily switch out colors and give the fish another look.”
There are plenty of rigging and fishing options for soft beads. Of course, bobber-doggin’ is one of the deadliest methods, but some folks are also finding that drift fishing with them (pegged) is really effective also. You can also use them as a dropper behind a yarn ball.
BnR’s rigging system is pretty nifty. With the basic method, you start by sliding a rubber bobber stop down the line 2-3 finger widths above the hook. Then you slide one of the clear plastic bead sleeves (included) down on top of the stop. Thread the hook through the hole in the bead and then slide the bead up over the stop and sleeve and you are done. Reverse the process if you want to change beads.
Wedam is always tweaking and improving his technique and has found that adding a small sequin between the bobber stop and bead will help keep the bead from sliding down onto the hook in heavy water — particularly when you are using larger sizes, from 12mm on up. That rigging takes the quick change aspect out of play but is sometimes necessary when fishing in strong current.
So, when do beads shine? Wedam likes them when the water is getting a little too clear to use yarnies — say 3 feet and up.
“Having said that, however, a lot of guys are now telling me that they are catching fish on the huge 14mm and 16mm beads in clear water,” he says. “That’s messing with my mind a bit!”
Those same 16mm soft beads are also gaining a loyal following among anglers fishing in high and off-color water. He says that adding scent in those conditions isn’t a bad plan. You can put some soft beads in a Zip-Loc and marinate them overnight in your favorite stink sauce and the plastic will soak a lot of it up. Most of the time, however, Wedam goes scentless.
As I mentioned earlier, the drift fishing crowd is reporting excellent success with pegged soft beads and more and enterprising anglers seem to be coming up with all sorts of cool new applications al the time.
In recent seasons, I have been finding that kings and silvers will also gobble up larger hard beads fished under floats. I asked Wedam about that and he said that he’s getting the same story from quite a few of his customers. Of course, the smaller sizes also work great for stream trout.
I’m excited to experiment with soft beads this season and see how they work for me. They sure seem to have several really attractive attributes.