Recommended Hook and Bead Size Combinations for Fly Tying

When tying nymphs or other sinking fly patterns it is desirable to add weight in some form or another to help get the fly down in the water column as quickly as possible. This will increase its time in the strike zone and as a result, increase your fishing efficiency.

The most common way to add weight is to use a bead made out of either tungsten or brass depending upon how quick you want your fly to sink. However, one important thing to keep in mind when utilizing beads to weight your fly is to use the correct size (diameter) for the particular hook that you are using. This is important since it will maintain the proportions of your fly.

The table below is a quick reference guide showing how to choose the best fly tying bead based on hook size that you can print and keep at your fly tying bench. These are just general guidelines and can vary slightly based on the hook type you are using.

Table. Bead to hook size chart - Recommended hook and bead size combinations. 

Bead Size  Hook Size
1/16" (1.6 mm) 18-24
5/64" (2.0 mm) 16-18
3/32" (2.4 mm) 14-16
7/64" (2.8 mm) 12-16
1/8" (3.2 mm) 10-14
5/32" (4.0 mm) 6-10
3/16 (4.8 mm) 4-8


Pro Tip: If more weight is needed, try incorporating two smaller beads with high density (tungsten beads) into your fly pattern instead of one single large bead. This will increase the weight but still keep the profile small. A good example is Charlie Craven's "Two Bit Hooker" as tied by Tim Cammisa in the video below.


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