Rigging and Fishing Troutbeads
Possibly one of the single most effective means to catch fish, drifting a Troutbead takes no prisoners when it comes to species. Trout, bulltrout, brookies, pike minnow, whitefish, suckers, salmon and steelhead on virtually every moving body of water on planet earth will fall victim to their hypnotic trance.
So, now that you know that you should fish Troutbeads, here's everything you need to know about how to rig and fish them. We've got a bit of a Q&A at the end also to answer any specific questions.
Step 1: The Essential Gear
In addition to the obvious (a fishing rod, reel, and line), you'll need the following:
Float or strike indicator. Size will depend on the amount of split shot you're using. You can use any form of floatation device - Fred's foam float, red/white bobber, Airflo strike indicator, quick-release strike indicator, etc. You are essentially float fishing so use what works best for your situation and gear set up;
Split shot, or some sort of weight. Size will depend on the depth and speed of the flow;
Swivel (optional). Helps to keep the weight from sliding down. Size depends on the setup you have;
Leader (optional). That essential piece of line between your swivel and hook. Tensile strength is relative to the size of the hook and your target species;
Troutbeads. Keep a good variety of sizes and colours to match your target species. There's no need to have a 20mm cerise if you're going after whitefish in the Stave;
Peg. Troutbead Peggz, BNR T-stops, float stoppers, or even toothpicks are an option.
Barbless hook. You'll want to match the hook you use to the size of bead and your target. Generally speaking, the hook gap and the bead size should not be too far off. For example, an 8mm bead will fish well with a #10 or #8 Gamakatsu Octopus.
Step 2: Float or Indicator
Place your float or indicator about 1-1/2 times the depth of the water to the hook; 3' of water requires 4.5', 5' of water requires 7.5', etc.. You want to be drifting the bead super close to the bottom where fish will be foraging for stray eggs.
Once on the water, you'll want to adjust this as you fish different runs.
Step 3: Split-shot
Place enough split-shot or weights on your line to keep the rig from being lifted up from the bottom. There are various types of weights to satisfy this process but split-shot is the most common. Use whatever works for you.
Step 4: Barrel Swivel (optional)
Not everybody uses a swivel but we kind of like it to help keep your lead from drifting down the leader. Especially useful when using braided line. Use a swivel that is proportional to your rig.
If you're fishing shallow water then a swivel just might not work for you, and that's fine - it's not a game changer.
Step 5: Leader (optional)
You only need a leader when you're using a swivel or if you are attaching to a braided mainline. Seaguar STS fluorocarbon leader or S/A Absolute Fluorocarbon are great options. You only need about an 18 - 24" (48 - 64cm) piece from the swivel.
Step 6: Troutbead
Put your Troutbead on the leader line and secure it with a Troutbead Peggz. Don't go too tight, just snug enough (about halfway) so that the bead doesn't move. Snip off the short end flush with the bead (put that in your waste bin), and then do the same to the longer end, saving it for the next bead rig.
Move the bead up the leader so that it's out of the way to attach your hook.
Step 7: Hook
Using a short shank debarbed octopus style hook, attach it to your leader. We prefer the non-slip loop knot but an enhanced clinch not will work just fine.
Step 8: Adjust
CRITICAL... Move the egg down the leader so that it's about 1-1/2" (3 - 4cm) above the hook. Having the hook away from the egg eliminates the chance of the fish swallowing the hook as it slurps up the bead. 99.99% of the time your hook will be on the lip of the fish. If you have the Troutbead too close to the hook you risk the chance of getting it stuck deep in the throat or gill plates - bad, bad, bad.
Step 9: Go Fishing
Now that you're on the river, here are some pointers to help you see a "bobber down":
Avoid super heavy flows. You want your egg on the bottom and there's no way it's getting there if the water is moving at mach speed. Generally speaking, a natural walking speed is preferred;
Keep your line off the water. This causes drag, ruins the drift, and basically reduces your chances of getting a solid hook up. You'll just end up losing fish that you should be getting to hand. Keep the line in direct contact with the float and not the water;
Be patient and deliberate with your hook set. Avoid pulling up fast as soon as you see your indicator go down. This will just pull the rig away from the fish. When you see the indicator go down, wait a brief moment, and gently pull up and reel down;
Be prepared for snagging the bottom. If you're not getting the odd snag-up on the bottom you're not in the zone. The zone is the bottom of the river, and that's where the fish are hunting for eggs;
Adjust the amount of split-shot to keep your indicator floating nicely. If the float is too high then you're not going to be in the zone. If you're snagging up too often or your indicator is bobbing up and down under the water then you need to either reduce the lead or adjust the float;
Adjust the float often to match the water. If you're not catching fish, and you know they are there, try adjusting the indicator. Sometimes you may be 8" too high and the bead isn't in the fish's feeding zone;
Keep the split shot off the bottom. You want the egg on the bottom and not the split-shot. You should have just enough split shot to present the egg naturally moving it's way along the bottom.
If you have any other questions about fishing Troutbeads, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would also appreciate it if you supported our stores or on-line shop (shopfreds.ca).
Q. Can I use a fly rod to fish Troutbeads?
A. Absolutely. Make sure your fly line is capable of turning over the indicator and split shot - something with a compact head and a slight taper.
Q. Does it matter what size or colour of trout bead I use?
A. Okay, here's where things get a little weird. The answer is YES, MAYBE, and NO.
YES... When the species you're chasing are targeting a particular egg, size will matter. For example, if you're chasing hungry rainbows during the sockeye run on the Adams River, they can be a bit picky. They are looking for a particular size and colour of egg - usually a 6 or 8mm but nothing bigger.
MAYBE... When there are multiple spawning fish the size of the trout bead can range from 6 to 12mm. Since it can be a bit of a feeding frenzy, the fish sometimes don't really care and just want the protein.
NO... There are times when fish are just reacting to something. In some cases, species like chinook, chum, steelhead, or bulltrout, will attack anything that floats by their face. Other times, there isn't really much in the system so they'll go after a HUGE egg (20mm huge - more like a ping pong ball) - steelhead season is a prime example of this.
SOLUTION... Be prepared. Stock up on a variety of sizes and colours. Include extreme stuff, like the 20mm BNR or Mad River soft beads.
Q. Does the hook style matter?
A. You'll want to use a shorter shank hook such as an octopus or a specialty bead hook. Long shank hooks do not work very well. We have awesome success with the Gamakatsu, Owner, and VMC octopus hooks.
Q. What size hook should I use?
A. For trout, a size 8 or 10 is fine. The bigger the rig and the heavy the leader the bigger the hook. You really never need to go bigger than a size 4 or 2 with a 12mm Troutbead. If you're using big soft beads, again a 1 or 1/0 is more than fine, even for 20mm beads.
Q. Should I use a bait scent?
A. Where there is a bait ban then you cannot use scents. It's hard to say whether scent will help - can't hurt to try.
Q. Do I need an indicator/float if I'm using a fly rod?
A. Great question and super tough to answer. That really depends on your setup and the water you're fishing. The indicator does help to keep the spilt shot off the bottom, allowing the troutbead to use the weight of the hook to sink down. Shallower water you could definitely get away with it without split shot, using a sighter on your line to help see strikes.
Q. When the Chilliwack/Vedder River is fly only in May, can I use this with a fly rod?
A. Technically no. According to the regulations, "fly fishing: angling with a line to which only an artificial fly is attached (floats, sinkers, or attracting devices may not be attached to the line when fishing is restricted to "fly fishing only”)."
If you have any questions please feel free to email us at email@example.com. Tight lines!