Press "Enter" to skip to content

Bead Fishing Basics

Bead Fishing Basics


When first starting out it’s helpful to understand the bead fishing basics and how to prepare yourself for the absolute best chances of success on the water. When selecting your fishing beads for your next fishing trip there are a few things you should consider.

First is understanding the basic intent of bead fishing. For generations, anglers have been using fishing beads to imitate salmon eggs. Also known as roe, these eggs are a natural food source for several species of salmon, steelhead, and trout. Another important element is that Salmon eggs goe through a very specific life cycle, depending on the stage of the spawn you’ll want to match up your beads with that specific phase in regards to size and coloration.

Choosing The Eggs

Focus on picking beads that match the species that spawn the area your fishing. For example rivers with sockeye salmon, you’ll want to use smaller beads. Sockeye has the smallest eggs of all salmon species with an average size of about 5-6mm. their roe is very clear so you’ll want to use translucent orange beads. Pink salmon and coho roe run 6-8mm in size. with coho eggs being among the most reddish in color. Pink salmon are the most cloudy in appearance, plus Pink salmon roe tends to molt faster. Chum and Chinook have the largest eggs ranging in the 8-10mm in size. Chinook eggs like sockeye appear very clear or translucent when fresh, while chum has the darker coloration sometimes even appearing to be somewhat purple in coloration.

Matching The Spawn

The other key element that should be taken into consideration is run timing. There are three distinct phases of a salmon eggs life cycle during and after spawning.

Fresh Chinook Roe
Fresh Coho Roe
Fresh Pink Salmon Roe
Fresh Chum Roe







1.) The First Phase is known and the Live Egg or Fresh Egg Phase:

During this phase, salmon eggs will appear the darkest and richest in color and most importantly will appear translucent.

Fresh Dead
Fresh Fertile









2.) Second is the Dead Egg or Fresh Fertilized Egg:

During this phase, eggs will start to appear more faded or cloudy in color.  Unfertilized eggs will start to show signs of molting and have some white coloration appearing on the eggs.



3.) The third and last phases in the dead egg or eyed egg phase:

During this phase, dead eggs will have a mix of solid white coloration with minimal orange colors, and the fertilized eggs will have started to develop to the pre-Avelin phase known as the eyed egg phase.

Matching up your bead coloring with the different phases of the spawn can greatly increase your success, but there are other things to consider as well such as the depth and color to the water your fishing.



Other Elements 

There are other things to consider as well such as the depth and coloration of the water you’re fishing, the amount of fishing pressure on the fish and lighting such as clear sunny days versus cloudy overcast days.

Water Color

  • In clear water use lighter beads like our orange crusher, honey drop, egg yolk, or pink ghost.
  • Green Water use mottled orange, mottled orange, mottled pink,
  • In blackwater use darker beads like our Cum Run Roe, Blood Roe, Fire Engine Roe or Fresh Milt.

Water Depth

  • Deepwater, darker beads
  • Shallow water,  lighther beads

Flow Rate

  • High Flow rate brighter colors
  • low flow rate darker colors


  • Sunny days use lighter beads
  • Cloudy Day darker beads

Fishing Pressure

  • when fish are under a lot of fishing pressure it’s difficult to entice the bite. When this occurs try to stay back off the water and cast farther. You want the fish to see your presentation, not you.




Applying Scent

It’s also important to consider applying scent to your beads, while some anglers catch a ton of fish straight bead fishing it’s always good to apply natural bait with your beads or various scents that will give your beads even more of a natural salmon egg appearance. Among our favorites for salmon, trout, and steelhead are of course salmon egg oil, shrimp, sardine, anchovy, anise, garlic, or tuna. Some scent companies combine a mix of scents to attract fish as well. It’s a matter of tryng out someones secret sauce or even better create your own to find out what works best for the areas you fish.