My Cart


J.E.B. Hall’s Bead Rig

Posted on December 26 2011

Trout Bead Rig
Everybody loves beads. Photo: JEB Hall

In the past couple of weeks we’ve learned from J.E.B. Hall about how he rigs up and chases rainbow trout in Alaska with mouse patterns and sculpin patterns.  Today we wrap up our mini-series on JEB’s trout rigs as he tells us about how he uses beads to imitate salmon eggs.

Once again, it’s built around a 6 weight Sage One, and all the stuff you want to read is down in The Commentary.

JEB, thanks for the master class in Alaska trout rigging and fishing!

The Summary

  • Sage 690-4 One
  • Sage 4250 Reel
  • Scientific Anglers Textured GPX WF6F

The Detail

  • 150 yards of 20 pound Dacron attached to the spool with an arbor knot.
  • Fly line tied to backing with two 7 turn nail knots coated in Aqua-seal.
  • Leader is 8.5-9.5 ft. in length, with a 30lb Maxima Chameleon butt section built out to your choice of 3x-0x Rio Fluroflex Plus (based on water clarity).
  • “Flies of choice” are 6mm-8mm plastic beads painted with a variety of top secret fingernail lacquers. Beads are rigged free sliding on the tippet with a “stopper” 5 turn nail knot of 20lb Maxima Clear placed 2″ above a size 6 Gamakatsu Drop Shot Hook or a size 8 Owner Mosquito Hook. Split shot are dropped off a long tag end from a blood knot tied in-line about 24″ above the hook.
  • Indicator is a ¾” Idylwilde Sindicator.

The Commentary

Rainbows love salmon eggs like fishing guides love beer. If there are eggs in the water, then there are sure to be trout somewhere nearby. A prime example of how powerful a hold the egg spell has over trout can be observed early in the spawn before the river bottom is filled with redds. A single pair of spawning chums that has begun to drop eggs can attract a dozen or more rainbows in the 20 yard stretch below their nest.

The best imitation of a salmon egg is a plastic bead painted with nail lacquer. Notice I use the words nail lacquer and not nail polish. Polish or “nail enamel” chips easily and wears off after a few drifts. Nail lacquer, on the other hand, has staying power when applied in multiple coats and can make for a durable bead that can be fished over and over.

When rigging beads remember to keep them looking as natural as possible. Salmon eggs don’t have sticks inside of them, so using toothpicks to peg beads seems a bit silly if you are trying to be as effective as possible. Bead knots work okay, but damage the line and still don’t allow for a round appearance. A stopper knot placed above the hook will allow the bead to free float and give it a natural appearance. This knot also allows for some adjustability if the hook is lost or damaged and needs to be replaced.

Salmon eggs do not swing or swim. They do not try to evade their predators.

They tumble and bounce with the current. They dead drift. When fishing beads to rainbows you need to have a dead drift and the best way to achieve a dead drift is by fishing with a strike indicator. In this situation the indicator is used more for guaranteeing a good drift than it is for showing the take. The take is often visual and the bead has long been spit when the indicator moves.

For those who have some sort of predisposition concerning the piety of indicator fishing this advice may be hard to swallow. Anglers who enjoy catching fish drift after drift typically have no prejudice toward this effective technique.


  • Paint your beads and carry a wide variety of colors and sizes. Shopping for nail lacquer is a great way to meet some ladies at cosmetic counters and in the pharmacy. Be sure to mention Alaska and something about salmon. Next thing you know you’re making them dinner. Please use some discretion. This advice is void for married folks.
  • Change colors often when the fishing is tough. Sometimes a variation of color or size is all it takes.
  • Don’t be scared to go weightless in slow moving side channels.
  • Ram’s wool and poly yarn make great indicators for skinny water and spooky fish.
  • Rainbows may not be located directly behind spawning salmon, but can be found hiding just downstream in structure such as snags or below drop offs.
  • Blind fishing beads in deeper river structure can be effective for finding bigger fish.

More Alaska Trout Fishing Knowledge

Join our Mailing List

Sign up to receive our Newsletter!

My Cart

Subtotal: $ 0.00

Your cart is currently empty.