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Joined: 08 Jan 2008
Location: New York, USA
|Posted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:17 pm Post subject: Marahair Leech
|Where available, leeches are an extremely important food item for the stillwater angler. Found in a myriad of sizes from 1-inch to nearly a foot and covering the spectrum of colors from blacks, through brown and maroons, into olives, leeches need to be included in your fly box.
Blind, bottom-dwelling creatures, these annelids are easy and nutritious targets for trout. Most leeches feed amongst the bottom debris where they consume carrion, small invertebrates, and other debris and this is where you should focus your fishing time. Leeches will use their anterior suckers to keep hold of the bottom while moving slowly amongst the substrate. However, leeches will also use their powerful bodies to propel them through the open water where any self respecting trout will take notice.
Leeches have bodies that they can extend or retract instantly for defense. When swimming, the bodies are extended and show-off the pronounced flattening where they are wider at the tail than at the head. I feel this is an important trait to mimic in your pattern. While the ever-loved Woollybugger is often used to imitate leeches, I feel that more exact imitations are useful in stillwater application where fish get such a long unimpeded look.
I like my leech patterns to be thin, active, and contain a touch of flash to indicate the glossy finish and any accents of the leech. I typically do not weight my leech patterns, instead I prefer to use any number of fly lines to present the fly at the depth I desire, which is usually right along the bottom. This pattern is a take-off of the more popular Mohair leech used with success in BC and in the west. Mohair makes a great body that is durable beyond belief but I do not think it imitates the powerful tail section of the critter very well. By substituting marabou I think this pattern conquers that task quite well. The end result is a slim pattern which is broader at the rear where the motion is focused. I also added a hint of flash and a hot spot head-often vital components of a stillwater fly.
When fishing the leech imitatively I use a very slow figure-of-eight retrieve with the leech on the point and probably a brace of nymphs on the middle and top droppers. On windy days I will often fish this on a floating line and long leader and allow the wind to drift the cast. However, the pattern can be very effective as an attractor and will take fish on a fast retrieve.
Hook: Knapek S (#8-#12)
Thread: Fire Orange
Tail: Few long marabou barbs
Flash: 2 strands of Krystal Flash long each side of tail
Body: Black MoHair
Place hook firmly in your vise.
Attach tying thread behind the eye and lay a base of thread to the rear.
Select a marabou plume with long barbs.
Separate a small bunch of barbs from the base of the plume. You want to use barbs that have longer flues coming of the stems to give a thicker fuzzy appearance. Strip the bunch from the quill.
Leaving the tips long and pointed to the rear, secure the marabou at the rear of the hook and bind forward. I like the tail to be 2-3 times as long as the hook.
Stop the thread short of the eye.
Pull all the excess butt-ends up and clip them close to the hook.
Select some Krystal Flash. In these small amounts I do not think the exact color matters too much so I usually opt for a pearly color but feel free to match the body, or contrast as you see fit. Cut out 2 strands of the flash material.
Secure the strands by their middle to the hook a bit behind the eye.
Keeping the rear-facing strands on the near side of the hook, pull the forward facing strands to the rear on the far side of the hook.
Keeping them in that position, bind the flash material in place back to the tail. You should end with 2 strands along each side of the tail. They will be long, leave them that way for now.
Locate some Mohair yarn.
Secure the yarn to the hook from behind the eye to the tail.
End with your thread a bit behind the eye.
Wrap the Mohair forward in touching turns, with each turn pull the stray fibers to the rear. Notice how the last wrap passes over the hook and in front of the thread...
...under the hook and up and to the rear on the near side.
One wrap of thread locks it in place.
Clip the excess close.
Pull everything back to expose just the head area.
Wrap a neat hot spot head. Whip finish and clip!
Brush out the Mohair and encourage the fuzz to the rear.
It will blend nicely with the tail.
Adjust the length of the marabou tail by pinching the fibers at the desired length and pulling the tips away. This will leave you with a nicely tapered look-avoiding the dreaded "paintbrush" derived from cutting square with scissors. Snip the flash material to be just a tad bit longer than the tail.
A drop of cement later and you have a completed Marahair Leech!