After receiving a number of questions about this fly, I decided to put together a tutorial for tying it. I have not seen it done anywhere else, though I’m probably not the only one to have had the idea of using glass beads for the body of the fly. Glass beads provide enough weight to sink the fly so no lead wrap is needed. The glass beads also create a nice shimmer effect, reflecting light and making this fly more visible to hungry fish.
This is Leif’s Glass Bugger.
- Hook: #6 Streamer Hook
- Thread: 6/0 Black
- Tail: Marabou and Flash
- Body: 6/0 Glass ‘E’ Beads and Hackle
I used a #6 streamer hook for this tutorial, but I actually prefer a #8.
These glass beads have a lot of great uses in the fly tying world. I picked these up at Michaels. Other beads I have bought elsewhere were very inconsistent in shape and size.
Start by first threading six (6) of the glass beads onto the hook shank. When using a #8 hook I will thread five (5) glass beads onto the hook shank.
Start your thread behind the last bead and cover the rest of the hook shank bringing the thread close to even with the hook barb.
Tie in your marabou for the tail. Keep it about the same length as the body or even slightly shorter. Remember less is more. I prefer to trim off some marabou fibers rather than tying in a whole feather.
After the marabou, tie in two (2) strands of flash, one on each side of the fly. Keep these the same length as the marabou or slightly longer. I like to keep it simple. Too much flash is overkill.
Next, tie in your hackle. I prefer to tie the tip in first so when I wrap forward it tapers larger towards the head of the fly. Ideally you will want hackle length about the same as the distance of the hook gap or slightly longer.
After I have the hackle anchored on the rear of the fly, I make a few more wraps to cover up the ends of the materials. I then slide the rearward glass bead over my thread and materials. You can apply a spot of super glue first to make this fly more durable. Next, I advance my thread to the front of the glass bead and make a number of wraps, advance the thread in front of the next glass bead and make a number of wraps etc. Continue this until you have your thread seated between the front two glass beads. What I want to accomplish here is to evenly space out the beads, anchor them in place, and provide ample room for wrapping my hackle forward.
Now you can wrap your hackle. Make two wraps at the butt of the fly, then advance the hackle forward one glass bead at a time and make two wraps in between each bead. You may need to use your finger nail to push the hackle in between the beads to get the first wrap started each time so that it seats properly between the glass beads. Stop behind the front bead and tie off here but do not cut your thread yet.
After tying off behind the front glass bead, I like to advance the thread one more time and make some wraps right behind the hook eye, tie off and trim the thread. You can then add a drop of super glue here. This should help anchor everything and give you a more durable fly.
The finished fly. If you tie any of these and catch fish on them, I would love to hear about it.
The rivers were flowing fast, but the steelhead were swimming faster. I would have had problems if I did not add aluminum bars to my wading boots. We spent four solid days on some big fast water in search of some late running fish. There were thousands of suckers to contend with, but plenty of steelhead hanging around nearby.
This big buck broke me off. After returning later in the day I hooked him in a nearby section of river and got my other line back which was still hooked in his jaw.
This steelhead had an unusually gorgeous spot pattern.
I have had enough slipping around on rocks and boulders in fast moving water to push me to my decision to risk destroying my korkers and add some aluminum bars for traction. Felt is outdated and will soon be illegal in most states, metal studs fall out and don’t give full traction all of the time. I have heard nothing but good things about the aluminum bars. They stick on rock even if it’s covered in slime.
Items I needed to accomplish what I was after:
- Threaded inserts (34 of them, 17 on each boot, size 10-32)”
- Flat head machine screws 3/4″ long size 10-32 (34 of these)
- Aluminum flat, 1/8″x3/4″x3′ (might need two of these)
- Gorilla glue
Brass Threaded Insert
Flat Head Machine Screw
First I cut out all of the pieces of aluminum from the flat stock using a hacksaw, laying t on the bottom of my boot and marking with a sharpie prior to each cut. Once I had my pieces I could duplicate them and flip them for the other boot.
Next I drilled out holes in the aluminum, tapering them with 2 or 3 different sized drill bits so that the machine screws would countersink into the holes and sit flat with the surface of the aluminum. I laid them out on the bottom of my boot and marked with a silver sharpie where I would drill my holes.
Aluminum Bars with tapered holes
I then drilled holes in the boot. You must be very careful here to only drill 3/4″ or less (the depth of the threaded insert). A drill press would work well here, or rig some kind of a “stop” on the drill bit so you don’t accidentally drill through the sole. You want the fit to be tight, so start out with a smaller bit and try an insert to see if you can screw it it. You may need to cut away some of the surface rubber with a knife to help get it started.
Holes in the Aluminum and Boot
Finally I was ready to glue in the inserts. I chose gorilla glue because I liked that it expands into the material you are gluing. So following the gorilla glue instructions, I used a q-tip to get the holes wet on the boot, and threw the inserts in a bowl of water. I did one row at a time. After applying glue to one row, I screwed in the inserts flush with the bottom of the boot. I did not want the glue to expand into the inserts where I would be screwing in the machine screws – so I mounted the aluminum bars with the screws right away as well. Make sure to get all of the screws started before tightening any of them. If you’re anything like me, your holes might be a little off, so this will allow you to fudge them around a bit.
Aluminum bars are mounted onto the bottom of the boot.
After the glue was dry, I filed down some of the sharper corners and ends to reduce the risk of cutting into things such as my waders while hiking around. If the gorilla glue does not hold up, I might try marine goop, or 30 minute epoxy. So far, it looks like this should work great.
First, keep the fish in the net and in the water. Rubber mesh helps protect the fish. Wait for the fish to settle down so you can quickly get your hands under it. Wait until the photo is ready to be taken and quick lift holding the trout over the net and over the water so if it wriggles and is dropped, it lands in the net or in the water and not knocking itself out on rocks. Do not grab it by the gill plates or stick your fingers in the gills for an extra hold. Do not hold it out of the water for an extended time. If it is not working out, just let it go and practice more on the next one. These steelhead are always to be released and should be treated so.
The smelt ran thick this past week. Thick enough we were able to net well over 1,000 pounds.
This net was bulging with smelt.
Joe, Mitch, and Phil pause for a photo after hauling in two nets filled with smelt.
What 600lbs of smelt looks like.
And another 600-700lbs