The Hawken Beadmaster, the first float designed for fishing beads for steelhead, does not disappoint.
The Hawken Fishing "Beadmaster" float was specifically designed by industry anglers to be fished with a single bead.
These weighted floats require very little additional weight, allowing anglers to minimize the size of bulky weighted swivels beneath the float, making them ideal for small water streams or low and gin clear conditions. (For a demo on how to rig a sliding float, check out this tutorial by Cameron Black of Gone Catchin' Guide Service).
The 1/4 ounce model performs surprisingly well in big water. My first time using this float was on a day when the river was just starting to clear up, but still significantly higher and more swift than ideal conditions.
Normally I would use a higher-rated float like a 3/8-1/2 ounce at this level, but the float still did its job flawlessly, and arguably better than a float with a heavier rating. The float's tracking ability performed well for me through swift water and swirling eddies behind boulders, keeping the leader vertical and the bead in the strike zone where the fish had their nose pressed against the rock.
I used it again with success in low, gin clear water, where most floats would have spooked a fish in less than a foot of water. I managed to catch fish in both conditions with a single float, rather than cutting and re-rigging to adapt to the change in conditions, making it truly a multi-purpose piece of fishing tackle.
What I noticed most about this float is that the design incorporated all the key elements from existing floats. The weighted bottom, extended stem, tracking ability, metal grommet "straw" stem insert, durability, versatility, visibility above the surface and stealth presentation below, the Hawken Beadmaster is a product of evolution in float fishing.
The extended stem assists with keeping the line off the water, making it a very easy float to "high-stick" and mend around obstacles or just keep good tension with the line at a distance. The extension of the stem above and below the float, as well as the weight built into the float do a great job of keeping it upright, giving the float superior tracking ability and making it easy to identify any discrepancies with what's going on with your presentation beneath the water's surface, whether it's dragging, rolling over boulders or being dunked by a lunker steelhead.
Each high density foam float is made by hand, precision crafted on a lathe in a similar manner as balsa floats. They're hand painted with a high visibility top that sits perfectly on the water's surface and a grey bottom that blends in with the skies, preventing fish from seeing the contrast of the float and distracting from the presentation.
As this product gains popularity, it will surely become the leading choice for steelhead guides and advanced steelhead anglers. While this product is still relatively new on the market and difficult to find in stores, you can find it on the Hawken Fishing website.