“A lot of people don’t realize the following point, but Nick Lyons from The Lyons Press had a lot to do with the popularity of bead-head flies in America. Several years ago, a French book about this fly style had gained notoriety across Europe, so Lyons published it in English. Then, bead-heads took off like a proverbial house afire on this side of the Atlantic.” Ken Allen observes that even in the more traditional U.S. northeast, weighted flies are the predominant choice, if fly shop sales are any measure.
It’s worth reading Allen’s excellent discussion of the differences between bead-weighted and wire-weighted flies and split-shot-weighted rigs. His suggestion, though, that casters having problems with weighted rigs are either casting too light a rod or need to improve their skills is a little too restrictive. Often over-lining a rod (which also makes the rod slower) is as good an alternative, and even the best casters can’t always overcome the physics of a big hunk of lead sapping the energy from their stroke. That’s why good casters often use Belgian or oval casts — which can also be described as a kind of “chuck and duck” — when a fly is too heavy for their line.