How Many Trout Beads Could You Paint Before Losing Your Sanity?

The gentleman in the photo below is Skeeter Scoville, a fishing guide who I just met two nights ago in Pulaski, New York. Skeeter has been chasing salmon and steelhead on the Salmon River for almost 40 years, and though he ties an unholy amount of flies every season, he hand paints an even more unholy amount of trout beads. Last season he painted tiny intricate dot patterns on more than 10,000. Skeeter believes consistently catching steelhead means dialing in the colors they want with pin-point accuracy, and the flat hues beads come in from the factory just don't cut it in his mind.

The word around town is that no beads outfish Skeet's beads. So where can you buy them? You can't. Every bead he paints is strictly for personal use or for his clients to use. The photo does little justice to the overall number of patterns he creates. Some beads glow. Some are only for specific months and water temperatures. The dots of some beads have three rings like a bull's eye. And each dot, Skeeter pointed out, is strategically placed. "You can't just put them anywhere," he told me. Skeeter, I learned, can talk beads for hours, as each pattern has a unique name and story.

While Skeeter may not have painted 10,000 beads at one sitting, I don't think I could paint more than 50 at a clip with his level of attention without getting completely squirrely and losing focus. How many beads could you paint before going off the deep end?