Air Head Pink Squirrel

Glass beads have been sitting in the bottom of one of the drawers in my fly tying station for years. This November, for some reason, I started to play with them in my fly designs for steelhead. To my surprise I had some success with a few glass bead patterns that I had never fished before.  The size and variety of glass beads have now grown in inventory, adding more stuff to my collection of fly tying items (like I need more stuff). I am curious about reflectivity of these little balls of glass. Granted glass beads are nothing new to fly tying, and like everything else in this delightful hobby, I take no credit for originality in technique. I am sure everything I have done has been done before. I only take credit for the originality in my thought process and the countless variables involved in putting together different materials. The Air Head Pink Squirrel just looked sexy to me, and I bet it will work considering the success of its predecessor.

Air Head Pink Squirrel


From its humble beginnings in the Driftless the Pink Squirrel is now fished from coast to coast. Most of the major fly manufacturers have it as a staple in their inventory in some shape or form and may call it something different. I bet I have seen at least 10 versions.

Anyhow, I think this glass bead rocks and have tied a number of patterns using it including various scuds, czech nymphs and other sub-surface candy. Since I am a blond, I thought it proper to call this year’s series of experimental glass bead flies; The Air-Heads(Oh ya the beads look like the air bubble that a natural insect may blow around its body at emergence) I was going to name them the Bubble Butts but it just didn’t look right when I tied the bead in at the ass end, so much for experimentation.


Hook- TMC 2999 SP-BL #16
Bead- Hot Pink Color Core Glass Bead (sm.)
Thread- Brown Uni-8/0
Rib- Ex-Fine Copper Ultra Wire
Body- Brown thread, copper rib, coat with Hard As Hull
Legs/Soft Hackle- Brown Mottled Hen
Flashback- Pink Mirage
Thorax- Brown Squirrel/CDC Blend


None!  I just loved the way the beads looked. Another in my quest to make patterns better.


  1. Tie in copper wire covering the shank with the thread over the wire to 50% of the bend to take in the curvature of the hook.
  2. Build a slightly tapered body with the thread, Watch the hook point it’s lethal.
  3. End the body above the hook point.
  4. Rib 7 turns forward to location above hook point.
  5. Apply Hard as Hull or other clear finish.
  6. Tie in hen barbs with tips pointing forward(about 1/4”) and pushing up against the back side of the bead. It will actually look like a comparadun at this point with the barbs splayed in a half circle. Cut off excess feather butts pointing towards bend.
  7. Split the barbs, half to each side.
  8. Tie in Pink Mirage over thorax only, with excess out the back.
  9. Dub thorax from the location on the shank just behind the point, forward, leaving just enough room to bend back and reverse tie the hen barbs. The thorax will help push them out.
  10. Pull flashback forward and tie off, cut off, in the space behind the bead.
  11. Dub collar.
  12. Whip finish.(I put just a drizzle of head cement on my thread before I make the final cinch down, this keeps the cement from soaking into the dubbing and making a hard ball mess of the dubbing.)
  13. Legs have been slightly strafed with the scissors blade to give them a bit of a curl. Too much pressure between your thumb and the blade will destroy the feather barbs.

Glass beads come in basically 4 styles. Color Core like the Air Head Pink Squirrel, Transparent which is colored but light can pass through, Metallic or Antique which have transparent outer but have a silver metallic core and Opaque which is colored but light does not pass through it. The following are some experiments in creative evolution for the 2011 trout season.

Red Headed Pheasant Tail

Red Headed Black P. Tail

Red Rover



Puncture Wound

Bush Man

These are just the beginning! More to come.