We give credit to a gentleman by the name of Mike Kruse with coming up with this fly. He says he came on to it quite by accident.
After he had wrapped the body with the yarn, he discovered that wrapping the body with a hackle wasn’t necessary because of the long fuzzy strands protruding from the Mohair yarn.
Thus the leech was born.
He gave it the name “Leech” because he thought the fly was ugly, of which it certainly is, but no one can deny its trout-killing abilities.
He tied his on an 8 or 10 size streamer hook. I differ with him on this point and tie all of mine on size 12 wet fly hooks. Nymph hooks would work, also. I prefer the smaller sizes on my flies and never fish with anything larger than a size 12.
As far as what they represent as food to the trout, apparently trout like leeches. Though I must admit I have never seen one in the water, leeches do inhabit the environs beneath the surface of our trout streams here in Missouri and clearly trout find them delectable.
Before any fishing trip, I make sure I have at least a half-dozen of these babies ready to go in my fly box since, because of their weight with the bead head and lead wraps, they go right to the bottom and are often prone to get snagged on a rock or log and can be lost.
They can be fished dead drift style with a strike indicator just by casting upstream and letting it drift downstream.Mending your line will be necessary during this drift. In still water they can be cast and then retrieved slowly with an up and down movement of your fly rod, causing the fly to bounce up and down off the bottom. They could even be fished with a light spinning rod if you’re not a fly rod person.
When nothing else is working, give one of these guys a try. They are not difficult to tie yourself and my photos will help if you’ve never tied one before. They can be purchased at the fly shops but it is difficult to find any that have been weighted, so you will have to fish with a split shot about 18-24 inches above the fly.
I don’t like to use a split shot because sometime I feel like it interferes with my casts. I feel like I’m throwing a sling shot. Maybe it won’t be a problem for you but it bothers me, and that’s why I always tie mine with lead wraps under the body of the fly.
The fly can be tied in virtually in color that you want, but olive is probably the predominant choice. It’s the color I prefer. There’s no way to tie a bad one; the uglier the better. I always tie mine with a gold bead but you will see variations of this fly out there with all different colors of beads.
I have a “the big one got away story” using one of these flies. It was about 7 p.m. and I was at Montauk State Park. At this time in the evening, I pretty well had my favorite stretch of water all to myself.
I had just made a cast across the stream to a likely spot and my line had drifted no further than a foot or two when my strike indicator sank like a stone. When I raised my rod to set the hook, I could instantly sense the fish’s larger than average weight.
I knew straight away that this wasn’t the usual pound to a pound-and-a-half fish that you catch at Montauk. Instead of staying down, the trout immediately jumped two or three feet in the air and came down with a splash that sounded and looked like someone had just thrown a large rock into the water.
This was the only time that I actually got to see the fish, and my estimation was that it was in the 4-5 pound class. Then it took off like a freight train downstream without even looking back and in doing so, my tippet broke along with my heart.
It took a few minutes for my hands to quit shaking from the adrenaline rush.
Since then on my return trips to Montauk I always make at least one cast to that spot where I hooked the big one that got away, and every time the buck fever returns but never that magnificent fish that won the battle that day.
However, I’ll always try as long as I’m able and I hope that wondrous feeling of anxious anticipation never escapes me for as long as I live.
This fly is certainly not the prettiest fly that I carry around in my vest but it is unquestionably hard to beat as far as its ability to deceive the wily trout.
By Bill Oder
(Bill Oder can be reached at email@example.com.)