A leech pattern is a mainstay in any fly-fishers fly box. I am happy to introduce my Predator Leech pattern.
My interest in leeches began years ago. My first encounter was on a weeklong canoe trip in the boundary waters. I was entranced watching them swim along the shallow shoreline. I stuck my head in the water and continued to watch them swimming with their characteristic slow undulating movement – this is, until they started swimming towards my face! Then I quickly removed myself barely escaping Humphrey Bogart’s fate in the famous scene in “The African Queen.”
My fascination with these aquatic worms endured and has served me well as a fly-fishing angler because these tasty morsels of protein rank high on a trout’s list of food sources.
Trout caught with Black with Dark Burgundy Tail Predator Leech
According to Hal Jenssen in Stillwater Fly-Fishing Secrets (Hal Janssen Company, 2011), there are approximately 60 species of leech in North America. They average 1½ inches in length when at rest. Mr. Jenssen writes that leeches prefer the shallow areas of lakes and slow-moving streams. As they swim, they can stretch 2-3 times their resting length.
I added a contrasting lighter color tail to black, brown, and olive fly patterns to increase the fly’s visibility. I also added flash at the head and integrated UV materials within the wings to further enhance the fly’s visibility.
The undulating movement is generated by weight distributed along the length of the hook. I include space between each sparse, webby marabou tail segment. This allows each wing segment to move freely. The oversized contrasting grizzly soft head hackle adds additional motion as the fly is retrieved or trolled. The combination of all these elements has produced a leech pattern exceptionally productive in attracting the attention of feeding trout.
Trout caught with Dark Olive with Burnt Orange Tail Predator Leech
Dark Olive with Burnt Orange Tail Predator Leech
As the water warms in the spring and summer, fish the Predator Leech early in low light conditions during the morning or evening along shallow shoreline edges. After the light hits the water and I observe signs of feeding fish (e.g. rings), I switch to one of my pupa patterns (UV Midge, UV Midge Pupa, All-Purpose Nymph, and my UV Emerger).
I use a slow retrieve with a long, steady, slow pull to mimic the natural movement of the leech. During the pause between each retrieve, the fly will sink. The retrieve will move the fly upwards. As the fly moves up and down, this motion triggers opportunistic trout to react. During the warmer months through the fall, I recommend a #10 size hook. In the spring, use a #8.
My Predator Leech is available in Dark Burgundy with Black tail, Dark Brown with Burnt Orange tail, Dark Olive with Burnt Orange tail, and Black with Dark Burgundy tail. It is available in a #8 or #10 size hook.
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