How to choose tungsten beads

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How to choose tungsten beads for your nymphs or streamers is essential. If the inside hole is too large or too narrow is not good. If the coating will fall quick , again is not good. If the type of the bead is  slotted and the slits are too large will fall from your hook – again is not good. If the slit is too narrow you can use only a few sizes of hooks with the same bead. A large slit will give you the possibility to use  hooks in wider range of sizes and shapes.
We decided to write this article about how to choose tungsten beads because there is a lot of confusion in tying world , especially among beginners.
Is good to know that tungsten is the same metal with Wolfram and in PeriodicTable of Elements by Mendeleev , tungsten has the following symbol: W from Wolfram. The density of this metal is very high: 19,3grams/cmc. To have an idea the density of lead ( Symbol is Pb ) is 11,3grams/cmc. Almost half!! Density of the brass is aprox 8grams/cmc. Brass is an alloy between copper and zinc.
On the market you will see a lot of sellers who are saying that their tungsten beads sold by them are the best and the cheapest or is produced in Europe and is 100% pure. Is not completely true. Tungsten beads are produced in China because the entire process is complicated and highly pollutant.
Here is a list with countries who produce tungsten : and no one from Europe produce finished tungsten products for fishing. Tungsten produced in Europe is used in army industry and in high tech applications. Tungsten used for filament for lighting and of course in fishing and outdoor industry is produced in China. Period!
Another aspect is purity. A tungsten with purity over 95% is  expensive because technology used in producing pure metal cost. Who is telling you that will sell you fishing beads with 98% or 100% purity is wrong, because the price should be from 10 time bigger than what you find on market at this hour. A pure tungsten bead should have silver color!

What you find in these days is alloy with Fe and is sensitive on magnet. A very good tungsten bead will have around 95%-96%. A good tungsten bead is around 92% and what is under 90% is low quality.

Another aspect is the shape of beads  used in tying flies. Some of them have a narrow hole others have a wider hales. For example bellow are two beads in the sames sizes 2.5mm:

Front holes of classic tungsten beads:


Back holes of classic tungsten beads:


As you can see the bead from left has a huge hole, will work only on hooks 3x strong. On classic wet hooks or even 2x strong will fall over the hook eye. The bead from right side has a tight hole and the back hole is made in wide angle and this is important because will allow you to use a wide range of hooks in different shapes.

Here are a few different types:


In this photo you can see the one from right and upper corner – the hole is very tight, means that you can use on standard and fine hooks and probably will not fit on 1x strong hooks.

Bellow you can see 2 different slotted beads:


The gold one is the classic, with slot a little bit wider. This is not bad because the bead will fit on different types of hooks and brands and of course on different sizes.

In a short time will make a cart with our tungsten beads and will contain the weight for each size and what hooks will work with them ( size and model ) so please visit us next week when will finish the article 🙂

  • jose Gulías
    October 30, 2015

    Thanks for the info, Lucian. Nice article!!

  • Marc Fauvet
    November 3, 2015

    very nice article, Lucian. looking forward to part II !
    the minerals link you shared is also amazing and explains why the rest of the world relies so heavily on China…

  • Rok Hace
    November 23, 2015

    Thank you for this info, it’s very interesting. I prefer slotted tungsten with smaller holes, becouse they weight a little bit more and I can put them on smaller hooks. I’m also very satisfied with tungsten from your online shop!

    Best regards & tight lines,

  • Rob Weiker
    January 12, 2016

    Great Website! Love all the techy nymph stuff!!!!!

  • thomas horan
    March 19, 2016

    Recent tests by U.S. Army in developing new bullets for their rifles showed that tungsten is as toxic as lead and possibly MORE HARMFUL…to the environment than lead. Do we now go back to brass?
    I’m sure your statement that tungsten is only made in China because of its polluting factor helps prove this. So where does the conservationist and enviromentalist part of fly fishermen stand on this. Will we now shun tungsten, especially now with so many tying products made from it. And how will dealers deal with it now that their shelves are stocked with tungsten products….a manufacturers recall….not from the Chinese I’m sure.

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