Podcast: Weight In Fly Fishing: Beads, Shot, Sinking Lines and More — S5, Ep4

by | Oct 23, 2022 | 7 comments

 The Troutbitten Podcast is available everywhere that you listen to your podcasts.

** Note **  The Podcast Player, along with links to your favorite players is below.

In this episode, we talk about weight and fly fishing. Because if you’re not fishing a dry fly on the surface, then weight, in some form or another, is part of the presentation. There are all kinds of weight options, of course, from wire ribs on a wet fly and heavy wire hooks, to lead wraps and tungsten beads on a nymph or coneheads on a streamer. Sinking lines, sink tips and even poly leaders will get you down. And then there’s split shot, in a few different forms, along with drop shot.

Something has to get you through the surface and down deeper. As soon as your target zone is under the water, how you’ll get the fly into various parts of the water column becomes the question. And getting near the river bed is often critical to success. All of these weight types are useful.

Weight is weight. And I’ve often put it this way: Weight is the original sin of fly fishing. If you aren’t fishing dry flies, then you’ve already left the purist plantation behind. So accept it. Surrender to it, and enjoy the rewards of fishing flies where trout usually eat them anyway.

Embracing tungsten beads but thumbing your nose at split shot makes me chuckle. Insisting that a sinking line is superior to a conehead streamer for getting down defies logic. Oh for sure, the presentation may be very different, and that’s why we use all options. Choosing one form of weight over another form doesn’t make you a better angler. It doesn’t make it more FLY fishing. It just makes you an efficient angler.

So in this discussion with my Troutbitten friends, we walk through the various ways to get a fly under the surface. We’ talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each style of weight and talk about our preferences.

We Cover the Following
  • Is weight the original sin?
  • What makes it FLY fishing anyway?
  • Types of weight in the flies
  • Types of weight on the line
  • Types of weight in the line

READ: Troutbitten | Split Shot vs Weighted Flies
READ: Troutbitten | Don’t Hate Split Shot – Have a System (VIDEO)
READ: Troutbitten | Stop the Split Shot Slide
READ: Troutbitten | Beads Are the Best

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Next Time

Season Five of the Troubitten Podcast continues next week with episode five. So look for that one in your Troutbitten Podcast feed.

Fish hard, friends.


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Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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  1. I just love these podcasts. Keep them coming!

    Dom, I know that you’ve written about preferring to fish unweighted eggs with a split shot approximately five inches above the fly. Your argument is that eggs don’t move by themselves, and this method provides the most natural dead drift.

    It’s true that mayfly nymphs do propel themselves to varying degrees, but that movement isn’t really imitated by a weighted fly (weight tending to dampen movement rather than promote it). If what we’re looking for is an approximation of a dead drift–and that is what I most often seek–then wouldn’t fishing unweighted mayfly nymphs with split shot five or so inches above them be more imitative of a natural drifting in the current than using beadhead nymph? I should add that I fish this way occasionally and have had some success doing so.

  2. Dom and Crew,

    Another great podcast! Thanks for taking the time to answer my question. I apologize for the badly worded sentence. I laughed like hell when you made fun of it. You should have seen my first draft.

    I have tried most of the stuff you guys discussed. I am going to listen to cast again to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I will focus on trying the drop shot technique and using something that cuts through the water better like a polish woven or perdigon. I will also tie up a lighter weight leader like Bill recommended. I think you fellas might be on to something there.

    There was a ton of great information in this podcast. I felt like I was drinking from a fire hose. Please keep them coming!

    As always thank you for all that you do! You guys should seriously consider writing a book together. That would be EXCELENT.

  3. I do some weird things with weight.I especially like George Daniels constant & variable weight system.For my variable weight. I add/sub tungsten putty from a braid barrel just above my point fly.In windy weather.I often add a no 4 split shot just bellow my sighter.This is more to give stability & more control in wind.I like drop shot also.Another great podcast guys.Cheers

  4. Dom,
    I drop shot most of the time. I see you like the Orvis and loon shot. Do you think color makes a difference (silver, black, or green)?
    Thanks for all you do!
    Scott Miller

  5. Dom, I was doing some fly-tying last night in the hotel. I needed some heavier stoneflies and I was doing some experimenting. I’m nymphing on a large fast river out West and my flies weren’t getting down as fast as I needed Saturday and I was heading back this weekend. A few months ago I purchased a gram scale to check the weight of flies and materials (thank you for the suggestion) and last night I made a discovery. I decided to weigh different color tungsten beads of the same size (just different colors but the same supplier). Now I understand that there are some tolerances from bead to bead (4.6mm), but gold, silver, and black weighed .61-.63, copper and tungsten .66-.68. That is approximately a 10% difference in the bead weight. I might have gone down the rabbit hole a little deeper, however when I am deciding how much lead wrap and what size it is all about the weight. Thank you for all you do for the sport

    • Right on. In truth, you simply cannot trust stated diameters or weights from any manufacturer or company in fly fishing. Ha. Sorry, but it’s true. Gotta measure it yourself. That goes for tippet and many other things as well.



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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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