20 Oct The Alaska Bead Game
Polishing Up Your Trout Beads
A little less than a decade ago, the trout fishing world was taken by storm with a simple spin on a little plastic bead that was more at home in a craft box than in a fly box. Aside from using a real egg, there is simply nothing more effective than a hand-painted bead gently rolling down river. Recently, fly companies have taken note of this niche market boom and have started offering commercially painted beads in a variety of colors.
While buying your beads already painted is simple, you will not have the artistic and realistic edge of a custom painted bead that cannot be found in stores. With that in mind we are going to talk about three different techniques that our guides, and others throughout the 49th state, use to “match the hatch”, thus turn a bag full of craft beads into trout catching masterpieces.
The Shake Method
The shake method of painting beads is a very easy and effective way to custom paint a bunch of beads at once. It is easy to pound out 15-20 beads at a time when shaking. Those old pill bottles work perfectly for the container, but truthfully any small bottle, or cup with a lid will work just fine.
The methodology is simple, drip a little paint in the container, add a handful of beads, shake away, and then dump them out. It’s that simple. Customization comes in the form utilizing different kinds of paint or polish, as well as the length of time in which you shake the selection.
The Dip Method
The dip method has a special place in a lot of Alaskan guides hearts. By dipping a bead into a container of nail polish, you are able to perfectly imitate the clean transparency of a naturally aging egg.
The steps for this are also simple, fill a very small container with nail polish, place your bead on the end of a toothpick and dip it in. Make sure though that you do not to dip it so far as to cover the toothpick, and try to lift it slowly out of the polish to reduce excess. Stick the painted toothpicks in a piece of styrofoam to dry. After about an hour of dry time you’re ready to give your little beauties a shot!
Creativity and variation are integral elements when using the swipe method.
Similar to the dip method, the swipe is usually done with nail polish as well. Grab a handful of stock beads, and place them all on one end of a toothpick. With your polish or polishes of choice, take each bead and give it a random wiping from various directions until you cover the bead. Feel free to get creative by layering different colors of nailpolish with various sheens. Ultimately, the end goal of this method is a uneven and mottled look that simply dominates underwater.
Year in and year out, our guides do extremely well during the spawn with their personal variations on a transparent plastic bead. So next year, before heading up to the Aniak River Lodge, give painting your own beads a try, and feel the satisfaction of watching your own masterpieces put some beautiful Aniak Rainbow Trout into the net.