What’s a Beaded vs Beadless Disc Golf Putter?

In the past I was watching some videos online of professional disc golf players reviewing all of their discs. The terms ‘beaded’ putter, putter with a ‘bead’, and ‘beadless’ putter kept coming up. I had no idea what they were referring to. But it made me feel like I was missing out on something. Was I using the wrong discs?

I own a few different types of putters that I like to throw, but I didn’t know if mine were beaded or beadless or perhaps neither. I decided to start doing some research to figure it out.

So, what’s a beaded or beadless putter? A beaded disc golf putter has a small piece of plastic molded into the bottom of the rim, creating a small circular ridge. A beadless putter has a bottom rim without this extra ridge, leaving a smooth, rounded edge on the rim.

Once I learned this, I realized that I actually had a beaded putter that I had been using for a while. It had become my main disc when putting. However, I started wondering about what impact the bead had on the flight of the disc. As well as all the pros and cons of a beaded versus a beadless putter.

At this point, I’ve spent a lot of time experimenting with both types of putters. I’ve learned a lot about what works best and what doesn’t work as well for various situations.

Beaded and Beadless Putters Further Explained

Top and bottom views of beaded and beadless putters.

As in all things, it is important to understand the terminology of the activity your involved in. I’ve found that disc golf is full of terms that are not entirely intuitive. Nevertheless, you’ll want to get past the learning curve so you know the different types of discs available to you.

Putters that come equipped with a bead can come in all different shapes and sizes. Usually, players classify beaded putters as either having a small bead or large bead. You may even hear players refer to really small beads as micro beads.

A large bead versus a small bead is not as perceptible in the above picture. The actual size difference isn’t that much. But when you get these types of disc in your hand, you can definitely feel the difference. There is no mistaking the ridge on the beaded putter versus the smooth edge on the beadless putter.

Pros and Cons of Beaded and Beadless Putters

I find it is important for my game to keep both a beaded and beadless putter in my bag for any course I go to. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Beaded Putter Pros and Cons

  • The bead at the bottom of the disc helps it to quickly stop once it hits the ground. Beads are likes brakes once the disc lands.
  • The bead is a comfortable place to put your finger. Having the bead as a guide can help to always have a consistent grip on the disc.
  • Most players agree that beaded putters have the tendency to catch your fingers on release, resulting in a wobbly flight.
  • Beads are not good when ripping or snapping the disc. Gets caught on your hand. The bead is more likely to catch your fingers, rather than easily ripping out.
  • Beaded discs are a bit more stable to overstable. This means the disc will have a strong fade at the end of its flight. Can be good for shaping short range shots.
  • Can be good for windy days due to the over stability.

Beadless Putter Pros and Cons

  • A beadless putter will tend to fly straighter than a beaded putter.
  • The smooth edge of the disc will allow for a better snap and grip on release.
  • Ideal for non-windy days.
  • Beadless putters will tend to be more under stable. Can easily be turned over to the right if over powered.
  • Great when you have a low ceiling shot and you need to get a lot of slide out of the disc. The smooth bottom of the disc is less likely to get caught up on objects on the ground.
  • Beadless are better for putter drives off the teebox.
  • Does not grab onto the chains as well as beaded putters.

What Type of Putter Should You Use?

I primarily use beaded putters for actually putting into the basket. The bead simply offers superior control over the flight of the disc when. Placing your finger on that beaded ridge is key for control. Putts don’t require a strong rip on the disc. Putts should be more of a pop on rather than a rip.

When I do need to rip a putter as far as I can throw it, I definitely go with a beadless. To get maximum spin and distance, it is crucial for the disc to have a clean rip out of my hand. The beadless is ideal for this.

When players try to throw a beaded putter for max distance, there tends to be a lose of control. This is because the bead will be more like to catch the fingers on release.

The most important thing when you are throwing a putter is to feel comfortable. Give both styles a try to see what works best for you.

Best Beaded Putter

I really like the Aviar from Innova in the DX plastic for my main beaded putter. I’ve used many different beaded putters and I keep coming back to this one. It’ll flight very straight when thrown flat, with a bit of fade to the left at the end.

I know that when I throw this disc it’ll be predictable, even in the wind due to it being slightly overstable. I like to use it for long putts and approach shots withing 150 feet when I want it to stop on a dime. Once it hyzers at the end of the flight, the bead does a great job grabbing the ground and stopping quickly.

The DX plastic offers a very reliable grip with just a touch of softness. I like it because I know I can give it a good squeeze, while keeping my index finger right along the ridged bead. It has what I would classify as a small bead. But the bead is just big enough to secure your index finger for optimal control.

Ultimately, I keep coming back to the Aviar because it comes at a great value, but has a premium feel in my hand. It is usually priced under $10 on Infinite Discs, but you can check out the current prize here on the website.

Best Beadless Putter

One of my first putters ever was the Magnet from Discraft. And I still use it to this day. The first thing I noticed about this disc was it had a very narrow rim. When I’m putting into a basket, this thing does an excellent job of grabbing the chains and holding on.

I prefer to get my putters in the base Pro D plastic from Discraft. The feel is similar to the DX plastic from Innova.

The best part of this disc is it flies with a slight turn with a nice soft fade to the left at the end. And it carries plenty of glide to go pretty far. I pull this one out when I have a fairly narrow gap I need to hit within 150 feet and I’m not afraid of going a bit long.

When I want to go dead straight, I definitely prefer to not have a bead on the disc, which the Magnet is perfect for. Beads have a tendency to grab onto the meaty part of my fingers. This can sometimes mess with my accuracy.

Like the Aviar, I love the Magnet for the great value it comes at. This one is also usually under $10, but definitely check out the current prize here on Infinite Discs.

Scott Heywood

I'm Scott Heywood, the guy behind Disc Golf Report Report. I've been playing disc golf over the last several years and have become obsessed with it. At least a few times a week you'll find me out on a course playing, but when I'm not, I'm writing about the sport here on Disc Golf Report.

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