This article excerpt is from the upcoming book "The Bead Bible by Randy Bonner" Randy is an incredibly talented, and humble, angler. He is one of my best friends in the fishing world, and a hard worker. Don't be surprised if he is the Bill Herzog of our generation.
He's going to be too busy in 2022, but you can still message him online and meet him at seminars. You will love Randy - STS Web Guy Lucas
This steelhead hen was caught on the Situk River in Alaska using a LURED Incognito rigged free-sliding above a simple rubber bobber stop.
The Hook to Bead Gap - The Bead Bible (Excerpt)
Having a gap between the hook and the bead is one of the most crucial details to landing more biters.
Simply sliding the bead on the leader and letting it run down to the hook closes the gap that allows the point to grab something.
The spherical shape of a bead (especially a hard plastic bead) will act as a buffer that anything attempting to come into contact with the point will ricochet off of, decreasing your chances of that point sticking.
A bead sitting on top of a hook will also change the angle of the point, and limit it’s movement. In order to prevent these problems from occurring, it’s necessary to provide some separation between the hook and the bead.
There is some debate over how much space is enough or too much. Keep in mind that anyone saying “two fingers length” might have sausage fingers, and if you’re a petite lady bead fisher with small hands, his two fingers might be three on your hand.
A general rule of 2” is a good place to start, but there are a few adjustments that can, and should be made depending on your presentation. As discussed in the chapter on choosing the right hook, you’ll want to adjust the size of the hook to match the size of your bead.
However, there are times when you’re adapting to conditions on the fly and you might be not prepared with a larger hook when the water color calls for a larger bead. This is one instance where increasing the separation between the hook and the bead is justified.
Grab the leader with your right hand, slap the bead into your left palm and pull. The point of the hook should catch somewhere on your hand, letting you know everything is properly dialed in with your rigging.
It’s quite effective to fish with both a smaller hook and a smaller gap between the hook and the bead.
However, there still needs to be enough of a gap that you’re giving the hook it’s best chance at finding somewhere to stick. You can easily make adjustments to adapt the style of hook with the size of the bead. Where a size 6 Gamakatsu Glo-Bug or Owner Mosquito hook might work for an 8mm bead, it would be almost absurd to place behind a 14mm bead, which might be better suited for a size 1 Owner SSW or Gamakatsu Octopus.
The Gamakatsu Finesse Wide Gap hook is another hook style for larger beads, but with a more fine wire and less weight.
Troutbeads, VMC Sure Set Drop Shot, and Gamakatsu Big River Bait hooks are more on the heavier end of hooks, which can help neutralize buyoancy in threaded soft plastics like the BnR tackle soft beads or hybrid/other beads like the LURED Incognito or Thirsty beads that tend to trap air.
Regardless, if the size of your bead is larger, you need the size of the hook gap to be larger as well.
Rather than using fingers or inches to create an arbitrary unit of measurement, consider for a moment the width of the average steelhead’s mouth, how the bead is presented, and how the fish takes the bead.
Generally speaking, if you’re fishing from the bank, even a vertical float fishing presentation is going to drift at somewhat of an angle, and the hook may not always be directly behind the bead.
There may be even more of an angle if you’re drift fishing from the bank or side drifting from a boat. When the fish takes the bead, if the placement of the hook point is horizontally positioned, the bead should be on the tongue of the fish, and the hook should be just outside it’s jaw. This will often give you a better opportunity of finding somewhere for the point to bury.
Although there’s some legal grey areas depending on your location and regulations, having a significant gap between the hook and bead will often hook the fish outside the mouth. This is because if the fish is facing upstream and takes the bead as it drifts by, the hook often will be on the opposite side of the fish as the bead is in midswing.
Even if the hook slips past one side of it’s mouth, it will have a second opportunity to bury somewhere inside the mouth, or on the inside of the opposite maxillary. This gap also allows for the hook to move freely away from the bead. Look at almost any artificial presentation out there, and you’ll see that the hooks are set away from where the line ties to the lure, and the hooks are almost always on split rings.
Matching the sizing of your hook to the size of your bead is key.
This range of movement helps keep the gap between the shaft and the point of the hook from being closed by the physical body of the lure itself. Bead fishing is no different in this aspect. A great way to examine the effectiveness of your hook, bead, and gap between is to simply take your leader in your right hand, open your left palm, and whip the bead by the leader into your palm and pull. The hook should catch somewhere between your pointer finger and thumb on the back of your hand or in the webbing between the two fingers.
If you want to better understand why this gap is necessary, try doing the same thing with the bead sitting directly on top of the hook. More often than not, the bead will bounce off your hand before the point finds any skin. Those are all the fish you’ll lose without that gap.
- written by Randall Bonner (Outdoor Writer for Salmon Trout Steelheader)