White beads, often referred to as snow cone or ice cream cone patterns, can really play a big part in the Stillwater chironomid game. Here’s a few things to consider when using white beads.
Water Clarity: The big advantage to white beads is that they stand out and can help fish locate them in murky water. Often fishing tannin, or “tea coloured” water white beads will really shine. Another great application for chironomids with white beads is during an algae bloom, as traditional pupa tied with yarn gills can grab clippings of algae on their way down the water column. On the other hand, I will rarely ever fish a white bead in gin-clear water.
Depth: While white beads can seem to work well at random times, usually I will fish one on at least one rod if I’m fishing in deeper (25′ or deeper) as I believe they are easier for fish to seek out from longer distances. If I’m fishing murkier water I’ll fish a white bead in most any depth with confidence.
Hatch: I can distinctly remember June 5th, 2012 as it was one of the best days of chironomid fishing I’ve ever experienced. The surface of the water was a blanket of emerging chironomids and after three fly changes we dialed into what they wanted. Call it coincidence, but I fished a size 18 gray/black chironomid with a white bead next to the same pattern with a black bead, the white bead outfishing it’s partner 4:1 before it was time to switch over to two white bead patterns. I think there comes a time when the hatch is so thick that you could fish a bare hook with a white bead up front and still catch fish.
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