How to Tie the Drop Bead Red Dart
Lance Egan’s Red Dart has been one of my most productive flies for the last several years. This drop bead version is just one of the many iterations I’ve tried. They’ve all worked well, but this little guy has turned out to be the clear winner thus far.
The fly starts with a somewhat unique Fulling Mill 5125 jig hook in size 18. It has a wide gap, a short shank and a rather different eye orientation. I like to get hold of the hook with plunger-style hackle pliers and set it aside.
An 1/8th inch Fulling Mill gold tungsten drop bead pairs very well with this hook. I like to feed the point of the hook into the side of the bead with the small recess. This allows it to ride further up on the hook shank behind the eye. I’ll then get the hook and bead assembly firmly secured in the jaws of my tying vise.
For thread, I load a bobbin with a spool of UTC 70 Denier in red. Get the thread started on the hook shank behind the bead and keep taking wraps until the bead begins to stay in place behind the eye. You can then reach in with your tying scissors and snip the excess tag off close. Wind back up to the back edge of the bead then pick up just a small amount of super glue, here Fly Tyer’s Z-Ment, and apply it to the thread wraps you’ve made thus far. Take thread wraps through the adhesive. This will help to ensure the bead stays locked in its most upright orientation.
Fluorescent pink faux bucktail is used for the tail of the fly. Snip or simply pull 6 or 7 strands free then trim off the lower half of them. Although the tips should be fairly well-aligned, I do like to feed them into a stacker, give them a little stacking then snip the butts off again, this time even with the mouth of the stacker. After a bit more stacking, remove the fibers by their aligned tips. Measure to form a short tail, about a hook gap in length. Trim the butt ends of the fibers off, even with the back edge of the bead and secure the material to the top of the hook shank, all the way back to the start of the bend, then return your tying thread back up to the bead.
Black midge Sparkle Braid is used to create the body of the fly. An 8” length is enough to make numerous flies. Lay one end of the material on top of the hook shank, above your tying thread, and take tight wraps to secure it all the way back to the base of the tail, before ending with your thread at the back edge of the bead. Take touching forward wraps with the braid to build up a lightly tapered body on the fly. Anchor it with thread wraps at the back edge of the bead, then snip the excess off close.
Pink UV Ice Dub is used for the thorax of the fly. Pull a small wisp free from the packet and use it to create a slender 1 1/2” noodle on your tying thread. Take wraps with the noodle to build up a short, little thorax on the fly. It should look about like this.
A single, long brown CDC feather is used to add some leggy motion to the pattern. Get hold of the feather’s tip and preen down the lower fibers to isolate that tip. Place the lower end of the tip against the near side of the hook and take thread wraps to secure it. Pull the tip back and take wraps over top of it to hold it back. This will ensure a strong connection for wrapping the feather. Get hold of the butt end of the feather with hackle pliers and begin wrapping the feather, pulling the fibers rearward as you go. A single full turn is usually all that’s needed. Anchor the stem with tight wraps of tying thread, then snip the excess off close. Take a few more wraps of tying thread to hold everything back.
Get hold of your whip finish tool and use it to do a 4 or 5 turn, back to front, whip finish, make sure to seat the knot really well and snip or cut your tying thread free. Use your fingernails to trim off any overly long CDC fibers. You want to leave some fairly long for added movement. A drop of head cement, here Sally Hansen Hard as Nails, applied to the exposed thread wraps behind the bead will ensure they don’t come unraveled.
And that’s the Drop Bead Red Dart. They’re quick to tie, durable and fish great. With the drop bead, the fly sinks like a stone, rides with a nearly horizontal orientation which helps to prevent snags, travels bead-first downstream and the motion of the CDC fibers make it come alive.