Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bite My Brass?

I was listening to the Fly Fishing on the Web Podcast today. Jason and Todd were discussing essential flies to have in your trout kit. During the discussion they spoke about the difference between tungsten and brass beads when used on a fly. There next statement made me reevaluate the sanctity of the sport:

When fishing fast streams most fishermen probably can not tell the difference between a tungsten and a brass bead.

This hit me like a tungsten coned woolly bugger cast into the wind against the back of my head. How could they not understand the difference?

After calming down I thought this through. Perhaps their senses are not as finely tuned as mine. Why just last night, as I was sitting in my recliner, I let out a sudden shudder. Kristin asked what was wrong. Someone is fishing in California using a brass bead head pheasant tail emerger when they should be using a tungsten bead head pheasant tail emerger I stated.

I suppose not everyone can look at that fly fisherman 100 yards down the river and see that the drift is askew. That fisherman obviously needs to switch to a brass bead.

I’m sure my tri-focal glasses assist this finely tuned bead genius.

In an effort to educate the fly fishing community I am going to provide two methods that can be used by those of lesser proficiency to ascertain which material should be used.

1. Expert advice. Before you fish stop by the local fly shop. Check out the stream reports and (I cannot stress this enough) look at the water flows. Talk to the guides in the shop. Armed with this information, peruse the flies. Take careful notice of the names – there is an 87.3% chance that if the little sticker says Tungsten that it is a tungsten bead. If that little sticker says Brass it is a brass bead. Now before you go crazy looking for both these labels, it is very important to realize that 68.4% of the fly shops will only have either tungsten or brass, not both. Remember – these are experts. Purchase the fly they have, it must be the right one for the conditions. If you walk into one of the 32.6% of the fly shops that carry both, I recommend a different shop. If you noticed that these percentages add up to greater than 100%, you are in the 27.5% of the population that need to get out on the water more.

Topic for discussion: did you know that 72.8% of statistics are made up?

2. Wind velocity. This is a very important consideration for the manly fisherman. The reason is simple. A tungsten bead leaves a much larger bump when the errant fly wallops you in the back of the head. This endangerment is much more likely to occur on a windy day. If the day is blusterous you should always select tungsten. This allows one to receive sympathy for fishing injuries upon returning home, allowing one to sit in their recliner pondering fishermen in California using brass bead head pheasant tail emergers.


Kristin said...

And I thought beads were for making jewelry...

Jason said...

A heavier bead will NOT fall faster if all other things are equal (in a vaccum).

A heavier bead WILL react less to adverse currents in the water than a light bead due to the fact that a heavier bead has MORE INERTIA than a ligher bead.

So, it is FALSE to say that tungsen beads FALL FASTER, but true to say that they have more INERTIA and thus MAY get to the bottom faster in a current.

But the blanket statement that fly fishers throw out there, 'tungsten beads fall faster,' is false from a scientific standpoint. It is inconsistent with the laws of physics.

The complicating factor here is that our beads are not falling in a vaccum. They are falling through and subject to the deleterious effects of water and its current. More inertia WILL help get the bead down quicker, just like a hammer's inertia (not its weight) gets it to the ground quicker than a feather (unless you are on the moon.)