What Size of Soft Bead Should I Use?
This is a great question that has a long answer. We really wish there was a very clear, concise answer that we could confidently provide to answer that question. The shortest answer we could give you is, the largest size that you feel comfortable with that does not scare the fish. The larger the bead, the more visibility, the better chance that the fish will see it and then bite it. Some other variables to consider are discussed below.
Things to Consider When Fishing With Soft Beads
Target Species: What are we fishing for?
This consideration is one of the simpler ones. Larger fish, larger beads, smaller fish, smaller beads. For chinook and coho, beads from 16mm to 32mm are effective. For steelhead, beads sizes from 10mm to 20mm are effective. For trout, beads sizes from 8mm to 12mm are effective. Trout and steelhead can be especially selective about bead size being matched to the size of loose eggs that are currently in the river.
Visibility: How far can you see in the water?
One of the biggest benefits of larger beads is visibility. We think of the bead as an attraction beacon floating down the river. It tends to be very hard to catch a fish if the fish is unable to see your bead. The lower the water visibility is the larger bead you should feel comfortable using. The higher the visibility the smaller the bead. For steelhead in 4-8 feet of visibility a 12mm to 14mm bead is a good size to start with. For 2-4 feet of visibility at 14 to 20mm bead is good size. For visibility less than 2 feet 20mm is a good bead to start with.
Pressure: How much pressure have the fish seen?
We have all experienced those magical days. It just stopped raining after an extended period of high water, the river has dropped into shape, and it is the prime time of the season. The fish are fresh and have not seen a bait. It’s on those days that a large visible bead is very effective. What about those days when the river has been fishable for 2 weeks, slowly dropping a little lower each day? The visibility is getting better, and it feels like every steelhead fisherman you have ever heard of is fishing your chosen river? On those days the smaller more subtle beads are to your advantage. The fish have experienced a significant number of highly visible baits and the least offensive sized bead can be the best chance to get bit. In these cases, we recommend 16 to 20mm for salmon, 10 to 12mm for steelhead and 8mm for trout. In conclusion, we recommend the largest bead that you feel confident with.
What Color of Soft Beads should I use?
What color of any lure that we choose is one of the oldest questions in fishing. We are fairly certain that the first cave-fly fisherman thought long and hard about what feathers to tie onto their hand carved hook before heading over to the local lagoon. As you can see from the BnR Tackle bead selection options there are a lot of different colors to choose from. Most of the colors are color variations of red, orange and pink with some variations of chartreuse.
Targeting Salmon with Soft Beads
We recommend the boldest and the brightest beads when targeting salmon. The most effective colors tend to be Cerise, Mottled Red, Sweet Pink Cherry, Clown and Joker. These colors are highly visible to the fish. Some alternatives to this recommendation include: If you are fishing the bead as a dropper under bait and if lower water or high-pressure conditions exist. When fishing beads as a dropper 8 to 12 inches under bait, we recommend a color that is a distinct contrast to the color of your bait. For example, if you have a bright red egg cure, then a light pink bead or even natural bead would be a good choice. Under high-pressure conditions, more subtle colors are recommended. These options include Mottled Cerise, Creamsicle or Natural.
Salmon Bead Color Recommendations:
Targeting Trout with Soft Beads
When targeting trout the bead color selection can be the most difficult to choose. Egg-eating trout are resident fish who are used to eating the specific type of eggs that happen to be drifting out of the gravel. Trout can be much more selective about color than salmon and steelhead. We recommend looking at what other species of fish are actively spawning in the river. For example early in winter steelhead season there are a lot of fall chinook and coho spawning which tend to have red-colored eggs. For rivers in Alaska with pink salmon, orange or peach beads like Creamsicle and Shrimp are effective. Later in the winter when steelhead are actively spawning light orange beads like Natural and Peach Gobbler are effective. We also recommend considering when the whitefish or suckers spawn in the spring. These eggs tend to be green in color and the Hot Snot and Mean Green colors are effective.
Trout Bead Recommendations:
Trout Winter Bead Recommendations:
Targeting Steelhead with Soft Beads
For steelhead there color selection, consider that Steelhead can act like a Salmon and a Trout when it comes to color preferences. Steelhead can be very reactive to brightly colored beads like Cersie, Sweet Pink Cherry and Clown when the fish are fresh and the water conditions are higher and greener. When the water drops and the visibility increases steelhead bite well on more subtle, natural colors like Pink Sheen, Mottled Pink, Creamsicle and Shrimp. Also similar to trout, steelhead can show preference to bead colors that are comparable to to the eggs of the fish that are actively spawning in the river. For example, Red and variations of red are effective when chinook and coho are actively spawning.
Steelhead Soft Bead Recommendations:
Want to check out all of our soft bead options, head over to the soft bead shop page!
For Your Next Adventure
Plunking Spreaders (2pk)
- Soft Beads Pro Pack
Pro Pack – Soft Bead – River Run$24.29
- Soft Beads Pro Pack
Pro Pack – Soft Bead – Mottled Pack$24.29
BNR Black / Pink Hybrid Logo T-Shirt$18.75 – $20.25