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July 24, 2020

What is the Best Thread for Beading? Nymo, FireLine or Something Else?

Selecting the best thread for your seed bead projects can be tricky, especially since it can depend on the bead weaving stitch or the type of project you are making. 

There are lots of choices for thread material, thread size, needle size as well as thread conditioners. All of this can add up to a big headache for new beaders looking to make the best choice.  

The size and type of thread you choose for your beadwork can influence:
  • how easily the thread goes through the beads
  • how many times you can put the thread through the beads
  • how easily the thread will tangle or knot
  • if you need to condition the thread
  • if the thread will stretch
  • if the thread will fray and therefore how long your beadwork will last
  • how well the thread will hold tension in your beadwork
  • the best method for tying off the thread
  • and there's probably more...
Your thread choice and the colors it is available in will even affect the color of your beads! 

With so much riding on this, shouldn't you spend a little time to know about your beading thread options?

Beading thread falls into two broad categories: nylon thread and fishing-line type of thread.

Choosing Nylon Thread for Beadwork

Nylon beading thread is very popular and available in a variety of sizes and colors depending on the manufacturer. Nymo brand is one of the most popular and widely available. Other brands are SoNo, K.O.,  and Silamide. Some nylon threads, like Nymo, were made to use for upholstery, while others are made specifically for beadwork.

Nymo Thread for Beading

In general, nylon thread is supple and has a small amount of give or stretch. Depending on the brand, it may benefit from using a thread conditioner or it may be pre-conditioned. Nylon threads are lightweight and can tangle so thread conditioner helps to prevent this. 

Thread conditioner also helps limit abrasion as the thread is pulled through the beads. Beeswax is a thread conditioner or there are specialty products available like Thread Magic. Nylon thread frays and it can be easy to split the thread when doing some stitches, like brick stitch.  

Thread tension tends to be a little looser with nylon beading thread versus fishing line. Beeswax because it is slightly sticky can improve tension with nylon thread. It can also get gunky, so running your thread across the beeswax once or twice, then running your fingers over the thread to smooth it out and remove larger pieces will help get a smooth even application.

Thread Conditioners for Beading

There is some down side to nylon bead thread, BUT there is no other thread that works as well when you need to make fringe.  It makes soft, supple, flowing fringe like no fishing line can make.  Other bead weaving stitches are also softer when made with nylon thread. And it's very economical. My favorite nylon thread for making bead fringe is K.O. bead thread. You can read my review of K.O. bead thread at that link.

One quick note about Nymo - the thread on the bobbin is different from the thread on the cone. My experience is that the bobbin thread thinner and is more prone to fraying. I personally only use Nymo from the large cone.

The most popular size nylon bead thread is size D. I compare it to ordering a size medium. It works for most situations. If you compare it to other threads, size D has 8.5 lbs of tensile weight and is .3048 mm in size. K.O. bead thread that I like so much for bead fringe is much thinner, with a tensile strength of 4lbs and .15mm. You can see a chart of the details of different nylon and fishing line thread from Fire Mountain Gems at the link. The chart includes monofilament, nylon, silk, stretch elastic and other materials. It is very helpful.

Some product links on Amazon you may find useful. If you make a purchase using one of these links I may get a small commission at no cost to you. 

Nymo thread: a great all purpose nylon beading thread. The thread on a cone is better than the bobbins
SoNo thread: a non-stretch, non-fraying but pricey nylon beading thread that comes in a variety of colors
K.O. bead thread: supple, non-stretch beading thread that is great for fringe, but may be a bit soft for other stitches.
Silamide: 2 ply waxed nylon thread, comes on a card instead of a spool.
Beeswax Thread Conditioner: Beeswax adds body and protects thread from fraying. It also adds stiffness and can clog bead holes.
Thread Magic: conditioning wax designed specifically for sewing and beadwork. Reduces thread drag, prevents fraying, clear and non-sticky.

Using Fishing Line Thread for Beadwork

Fishing line types of thread are more expensive than nylon thread but they don't tangle as easily, hold tension well, do not need conditioning and are very durable and strong. They come in  limited colors, however. 

To me, they are perfect for beginners just learning to bead, although it is better for some stitches than others (remember what I said about fringe above!)

FireLine beading thread

The original fishing line used for beadwork is mono-filament, a clear slippery thread. There are more options today - some braided and thermally bonded. 

Some fishing line is distributed as a beading thread and a fishing line, so if you buy FireLine branded by BeadSmith as a beading thread, it is the same thread sold by Berkley as fishing line. It is usually cheaper to buy the fishing line. 

FireLine is arguably the most popular fishing line thread. Other brands are WildFire, PowerPro, DandyLine, and  NanoFil.  Note that these are affiliate links for finding these products on Amazon.

Another fishing line I have recently tried and really liked is Hercules braided fishing line. (affiliate link). Hercules comes in 9 different fade proof colors and multiple sizes. I tried several different sizes and colors of Hercules thread and found it to work great for the brick stitch body AND fringe on earrings. It is unusual for fishing line to work well for fringe, so that is a game changer. You can find my review of Hercules brand thread at this link.

PowerPro beading thread

It is tough to pierce fishing line type thread and it doesn't fray.  In fact, it is difficult to cut fishing lines and it can dull your thread scissors quickly - a cheap pair of kids scissors will work for this purpose. Or I also like these thread snippers from Amazon. I bought a box of 12 of them, and now I have one in every work area (plus I've gifted a few to my beading friends).  

Fishing line thread colors are limited but the smoke gray available from FireLine seems to work with most color beads.  (A quick update from the comments - there is dyed FireLine available from Sparkle Spot Bead Shop.  I haven't tried it - but will post when I do!)

Fishing line size is expressed in the number of pounds. Sizes most often used in beadwork are 6 lb. or 8 lb., but 4 lb. is also useful (some people use it for fringe even) and 10 lb works for larger beads or ones with larger holes.

I will post more articles on which thread types are my favorite for which purposes, but for now, my go-to Nylon thread is Nymo on the cone in either tan or black in size D and FireLine in Smoke Gray, 6 lb or 8 lb. These work well for the brick stitch (or sometimes peyote) top portions of fringe earrings. They also work well for herringbone, netted mandalas and beaded ropes or chains. *Note that these were my original favorite threads - more recently I have come to love K.O. nylon thread for it's suppleness in fringe and Hercules fishing line for all around bead weaving and even some stringing.

I have heard some people use 4 lb FireLine for fringe, but I have not tried that myself. Let me know if the comments if you have and like it.

Since writing this article, I have become a big fan of KO Beading thread - especially for making bead fringe. You can read about it in this article K.O. Beading Thread Review

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  1. Does it bother you when the smoke color from the Fireline comes off on your fingers? I agree it shows up less than the crystal for most applications but I just can't take the gray stuff on my hands. I usually use the 4 lb crystal Fireline because it fits through a size 12 needle really easily and for some reason, size 12 is my strong preference for needle size (perhaps an odd thing to have an opinion about?).

    I bought so many of the little spools of Nymo in the late 1990s when I started beading and I still have them...I like the Toho OneG a little more than Nymo and I need to try some more weights of the Miyuki Duraline because the first one I bought was too flimsy for my liking.

    I find Nanofil and Wildfire pretty similar to Fireline but had not heard of DynaLine before. I have some PowerPro but haven't gotten around to using it yet.

    Sorry to write a comment this length, I have been thinking about this topic a lot lately and don't know anyone in my day-to-day life who has the least bit of interest in such things.

    1. I haven't often had the problem with the smoke color fireline. Maybe it depends on the roll or the environment (i.e. humidity or something?). I have had it happen once or twice and then I just wipe down the thread with a tissue or rag - not much more work than dragging the nylon thread through a conditioner.
      I like a size 12 needle too - although I am trying some different ones of those too. I thought Tulip needles were the only ones, but I used a John James size 12 this week and I loved the little bit of give it had when I was brick stitching. But I know they break much easier than Tulips.
      I'm happy for your in-depth reply. I like to consider other beader's thoughts and experiences and know about threads I haven't tried yet.

    2. I have snapped quite a few John James needles. Like more than 10. So, I stick with Tulip, which I have not broken. I may have spent $$$$ with Fire Mountain so I get Platinum Partner pricing and it's not too bad to add a pack or two of needles to other orders.

      I probably still have all the Nymo because I don't like using thread conditioner although I admit it helps a lot. I am using it lately to make some peyote samples for a project I have in mind.

      For some reason after I use the smoke Fireline it looks like I have been reading a cheaply-printed newspaper all day. Maybe it is something about the combination of humidity where I live and the condition of the skin on my hands.

    3. I noticed the grey coming off of the fireline smoke when waxing the thread. It doesn't do that with other colors. I'm a fairly new beader. I don't know anything. I learned how to do ladder and brick stitch from Sister Beads on YouTube. I made some earrings using fireline 8 lb thread and the fringes are curling up every which way :D. What is the best thread for fringe earrings?

    4. To sneaky burrito I appreciate all the info about the different threads etc. Thank you (:

    5. I like KO thread for soft supple bead fringe. I haven't often had a problem with the gray coming off FireLine, but I live in a very dry climate, so humidity may be the cause. You can read more about KO thread in this article:

  2. Great article and feedback - I remain in a state of confusion for just about ANY project that requires beading find both very helpful. (Can't wait until I figure out what size bead cap/crimp ends to use with what size leather cord, for that matter!)

    1. Thank you - it's great to know what else you are having problems with. I have lots of leather cord and haven't done much with it yet. And also lots of pretty crimp endings. I'll make a note and maybe tackle it on vacation next month.

  3. AnonymousJuly 24, 2020

    I've been using the dyed FireLine sold by The owner worked with a chemist to come up with 12 different colors, including Azure, Grape and Cherry. Some of the color dyes are more colorfast than others, but I've had pretty good luck with them. I love the durability of Fireline, I don't have to worry about a piece breaking. I made a bracelet with seven component pieces that I connected using Nymo thread. I made several passes through each connection, but one connection starting coming apart after just a half dozen times wearing the bracelet.

  4. Thank you for the link to colored FireLine! Wow! That almost blew my budget as I immediately wanted the 12 color super pack. I'm going to restrain myself at least temporarily until I try some of the other colored thread to decide how much of a difference it makes. I'll add the link in the main article so others know about it.

  5. Hi, Lisa, I work with Fire Line the most. My favorite is 6# crystal. The smoke color does rub off on my hands and I have had it stain the inside of light color beads. I live in FL, though, with high humidity. The black satin FL is nice, too, and I try to avoid the smoke at all costs. For brick stitch fringe earrings, I use 6# FL on top and make the fringe with KO. Hana thread works well for bead embroidery. I love thread and cord and just like to experiment and use what calls for my 'next' project. Thank you for the blog post.

  6. Hi! I’m new to this bead weaving stuff and I recently made some fringe earrings and I noticed that my fringes are kinda stiff, I want to know how to make them more flowy? Not sure if that’s the right word to use... anyway I think the thread I’m using is totally fine for the stitch part but I just want my fringes to be better. Any recommendations? Thanks!

    1. I'm not the blog author, but the way to do this is either use very loose tension for the fringe, or just switch to Nymo for just the fringe. What you're describing is just the stiffness of FireLine. It's great for stitches, but fringe is the one thing that's hard to do well!