The key feature of any leech pattern is
movement. Use materials that make the fly
come to life. The two front runners are
marabou and rabbit fur. Both of these
materials breathe and undulate at every
opportunity. Aftershaft feathers, Mohair
and brushed-out dubbing are other excellent
leech materials. For colors I prefer to stick
to the darker shades. My favorites include,
green, olive, brown, maroon and black. I am
also a big fan of mottled variegated leech
patterns. Darker colors offer a great silhouette,
a key component for low light or evening fishing.
Leeches also have a reflective quality under
certain conditions. Using Crystal Chenille or
dubbed bodies adds a seductive shimmer to any
leech pattern. Mixing peacock herl into a dressing
is not a bad choice either.
Another key feature of the leech is its undulating
swimming motion. It is important that any leech
pattern has this trait, it can be accomplished
through strategic weighting. I weight just about
all of my leech patterns with either lead wire
substitute or bead heads. The most important
point to consider is not so much the quantity
of weight but its location on the hook. Placing
the weight at the front of the fly provides a
jigging action during the retrieve. Conversely,
some tiers weight the rear end of the fly. The
net result is the same.
The last key component is the overall size of
the pattern. Trout prefer leeches three inches
or less. Large over-dressed patterns are not
necessary and in some cases detrimental. I use
a size 6 3XL hook for my largest leech pattern.
Keep the pattern skinny too. Looking at a leech
closely when extended, you'll see it is slender
and worm-like; a 3-inch leech has the body diameter
of a pipe cleaner. Rotund leech patterns are not
Leech patterns are big-fish flies, especially in the fall.
More on food opportunities for trout in lakes from Phil Rowley's excellent book,
Fly Patterns for Stillwaters next time.
Credits: Excerpt from Fly Patterns
for Stillwaters By Philip Rowley, published
by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use