Posts Tagged ‘leech


Brushed Leech Pattern: Dubbed & Brushed Out

I started tying this leech pattern back in 2008 after seeing renowned B.C. stillwater angler Brian Chan demonstrating the pattern. I highlighted the pattern in 2008 and then again in 2009 on SwittersB.

I have started tying up more of the pattern for next year. I was down to less than a dozen of the flies. They are a good pattern for lakes and rivers, fished like a streamer pattern. A dubbing brush of longer synthetic fibers can be spun and dubbed, then wrapped around the shank and brushed backward. Also, strands of the dubbing fibers can be tied in, starting at the bend and additional clumps tied in progressing up the shank toward the eye of the hook. Each clump of strands tied in is brushed back over the previous clump of strands…smaller amounts at the rear and larger clumps toward the front.

Brush Leech Collage


Fly Tying & Fishing: The Leech

I have come upon Leeches in the shallows of lakes, particularly in B.C. Fly fishing literature promotes the use of Leech patterns for stillwater fly fishing.

The Little Fort Leech has been a very successful fly pattern for me. Does it simulate a Leech in the water, by its appearance or presentation? SwittersB

Typically, you see the Woolly Bugger pattern offered up as the go to Leech pattern, or maybe a brushed out Mohair or Synthetic Fiber Leech pattern. Check Google Images Leech Fly Pattern and you see the range of patterns and attempts at innovation toward the real critter.

A Leech photograph by Karl Ragnar Gjertsen. This is a Leech in a more or less compact position, that could stretch out considerably longer. The left, Anterior portion, is the 'front' of the Leech

Leeches reportedly move in an undulating locomotion. Tying and fishing a Leech pattern with that in mind would focus upon the presentation of the fly; how the materials contribute to a sense of undulation and is the pattern shaped like a Leech. Many ‘Leech’ patterns are misshapen and presented in a horizontal mode with only the slightest undulation, usually imparted from the bead head.

I have taken to fishing a Leech pattern off the bottom in the shoals beneath a slip bobber. This is particularly effective if the water’s surface is rippled enough to impart a slight up and down movement to the bobber/fly. First light, last light and dark skies are good times to fish those shallower areas where the muck and debris suits the Leech. I have often found them on my waders in that first few feet of water as I am getting into my pontoon boat or back to shore preparing to exit the pontoon. The bottom is often muck and woody debris.

This is a nicely shaped Leech pattern by RickB called the Slight Leech Streamer. The shape is excellent and the marabou tail would provide the undulation. Some might use a narrow tuft/straight cut piece of rabbit fur. The abdomen of this fly appears to be wound Marabou, although wound Ostrich herl might work also.

Rick B’s Slight Leech Streamer Recipe

Here also, is a good piece re Leeches by Syanley Scharf


streamers, leeches, bombers (articulated or hinged or trailer…some history)

Black Heron Fly Fishing

Black Heron Fly Fishing

Not too long ago I received some questions about tying Articulated Leeches. I knew a little about the popularity of these flies due to their success in enticing strikes, but I was in the dark about how to articulate the two hooks. It prompted a little research on my part to find some hsitory and methods for tying these flies. What I found was a bit confusing, however, and I really didn’t like the methods that I discovered.

So, it seems that there are many methods used to tie connect the hooks for these flies. The underlying principles behind all them are strentgh, action, and anti-fouling. Obviously, when you are fishing for heavy fish in fast water, the concern is that with two joined section of hook shank, you do don’t want to lose a fish due to a weak joint. The purpose of the articulation, in the first place is to add life-like action to the fly, so that it entices fish to strike, believing it’s the real deal. And finally, the joints need to be tied in such a manner that the rear shank will not double back and get fouled with the front shank, ruining the action that the articulation was designed to impart. If all of these characterics are present, combined with the right pattern color and size to match the conditions, these flies can be unbelievably deadly.


Leech Lust Reconsidered…



In October 2006, Jeff Morgan wrote a very thought provoking newsletter on Westfly~Oregon re his extensive findings on Leeches’ place in the trout’s diet. He challenges our use of sizes, weighting locations, colors and presentations. This is a very interesting article and at a minimum it makes me affirm the following: tie more multicolored mini leeches and don’t jonly use long strips when imitating leeches. I wonder when we use Buggers and utilize longer, fast strips if we are not imitating baitfish rather than leeches, but don’t always realize that is what we are doing. Check out the article a page or so down into the newsletter. Check out Westfly for great NW US info on all facets of flyfishing and tying.  Jeff was a very creative and refreshing force while at Westfly. He now teaches at a Mid-West university.


Brian Chan, Roche Lake, Dubbed & Brushed Leech


 Last night, I was watching a sat. channel and the World Fishing Network. A show called The New Fly Fisher was on. I didn’t expect much, but Brian Chan was the guest flyfisher at Roche L. in B.C. I have seen Chan at expo shows, written to him and talked to him once over the phone. Watching the show last night reinforced what I have always thought. Chan is a very nice guy. Of course, he catches frigging amazing diploids and triploids, but he is just so seemingly humble and a well spoken teacher. Chan and the host were fishing this past Fall, I believe, and the fishing wasn’t fast but it was still productive using a green leech with a beadhead. Later, during a ‘how to tie’ segment, the host demonstrated how to tie the Leech they were fishing. It was not a typical Woolly Bugger. It was similar to what I have tied in the past. Dazzle or a Sparkle or Ice Dub dubbing (something long fibered, synthetic and bright) and was used and applied by a dubbing loop, which was then wrapped around the shank from the bend to the front bead/eye. I am not adept yet at showing a sequence of tying steps but the pattern was so simple I can explain: A typical streamer or Bugger hook was used, thread attached, and red wire attached and a dubbing loop was constructed at the bend from the wire. The dubbing was slightly pulled apart and strands (1/2″ or so)/clumps of the shiny dubbing were placed between the two pieces of wire, as you would with normal dubbing. Once the loop was filled, the loop was spun and then the ‘noodle’ was wrapped forward up the shank to form the body. The fibers of the dubbing would be brushed back to form a tail as in a streaming comet. I have tied similar flies, but without the wire loop…just using a normal thread dubbing loop. I will have to try this and see how it looks. Definitely good reinforcement and some extra weight uniformly added. Chan had great success, only appearing to use the green leech. Chan is a credit to the B.C. fisheries and reflective of many of the people I have encountered in the Highland, Kamloop, Merrit to Salmon L. area. The show was ok and the fish were willing and how I wish more of our fisheries were in the NW.

So, the flies (clumped in the box) look good and I have plenty of them. And this raises something I alluded to a few days ago re the archaeological dig in my garage. I have so many darn flies. Do you do this? Tie just to tie. I go on binges, tying that special pattern you read about in a magazine or see online. I tie a dozen this or two dozen that. I finish and go onto the next pattern. The problem is, I do a lot of tying in the Winter when I am not fishing for Trout. Salmon and Steelhead are the focus. So I tie and put away and FORGET. Later, what the hell…look at what I found. What a nice surprise. I am awash in flies. But tying the easier subsurface patterns is enjoyable. I wish I spent as much effort tying dries. How nice to discover dozens of Adams and BWO’s. I wonder if we could call these Leeches: Chan’s Comet? That would be a bit presumptious. Ok..a Brushed Leech pattern.     



Woolly Bugger’s


Speaking for myself, I have often instructed others, in the tying of W.B.’s that they most often suggest leeches and oh, also, maybe dragon nymph’s, baitfish, or damsel nymphs. Well, recently at a class taught by a very knowledgeable tyer and entomologist, he advised that in hundreds of lakes in worldwide travels and in the thousands of stomach samples he had taken, leeches made up an insignificant portion of trouts’ diets, even when there were heavy leech populations. Interestingly also, he said that the color is less critical than we fuss about so maybe a yellow bugger maybe just as effective as a typical black, brown, green bugger. I would hedge the bet here and have a variety of colors. I have had numerous instances in which green was it…not black or red or mottled brown. And, of course, I can recall instances of a different color being the go to color…so be prepared with colors, sizes, and varities of thickness/leanness. 

So, if that is the case, what is the reason for the success of a Wooly Bugger? The instructor, mentioned above, suggested it is the mere suggestiveness of the pattern that triggers the attack not the matching of any precise nymph. So, that being said, it is the presentation that is critical. In my teachings it should rarely be a chuck and wait presentation. Whether you are matching the hatch or searching with a suggestive/stimulating pattern, presentation should be the key. What are you suggesting and do you know how the critter you are imitating behaves underwater?

You will improve your success rate significantly on lakes by understanding presentation and visualizing the fly’s actions eight feet down and forty feet back. Also, use a clear/camo intermediate (Type I) line with a WF Floating and Type III-IV as available options.

I think if one is imitating damsels or dragons then the thickness of the body, density of the palmered hackle and the tail will be critical for the appearance/action and then, of course, the presentation and location will be important.    

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