Don's Fly Tying - The Marabou Leech

[The Marabou Leech]

We creators of fur, feather and tinsel fish offerings often get carried away in our zeal and produce the most amazing displays of colorful flies that may at times catch fish even though there may never be an insect or other dietary item of trout or salmon that looks anything like the fly we have made! Not so in this month's article as we will look at the very plain marabou leech tied in a single color. Black is probably the most common leech pattern used by fly fishermen but real leeches can vary in color from one body of water to another. Besides black, various shades of brown are common in Western Canadian lakes and I have heard that dark greens, grays, and tinges of wine or deep purple exist as well.

Donnely is a pretty walk-in lake in the picturesque Cariboo region of central BC. I have made the 40 minute trek into this lake several times and I always enjoy the special beauty of this place. Various flies will work on the large Donnely rainbow but I have found none better than the plain brown marabou leech! The barbless brown leech, cast or slowly trolled at the lake's far end has never failed to produce some wild slashing strikes by big silver sided rainbow trout so let's have a look at the dressing for this simple fly.



A few turns of fine lead wire near the hook eye can be used but it is not necessay for fishing the rainbows of Donnely Lake. After half hitching your tying thread to the hook shank, tie in about four clumps of brown marabou evenly spaced along the shank. The first clump should be placed about 1/4 of the shank length up from the hook bend, allowing the fibers to flow past the bend about 1/2 of the body length. Wrap your tying thread tightly around the marabou through to the hook eye (this forms the fly body) and snip off any excess marabou at that point. Evenly space about three more clumps of marabou along the shank through to the hook eye. As you tie in each clump, take care to form a cigar shaped wing, flowing back, so that the finished fly has somewhat of an oval appearance. The forward section of each piece is tied tightly to the hook shank so that each clump of marabou ends up part wing and part body. The last piece will be very near the hook eye and will be mainly wing. Note that if you use invisible mending thread as your tying material, the body shows through as the natural color of the marabou feathers. A few turns of peacock herl to form a head is optional, tie off, cement and you have finished a simple but very effective fly for Donnely Lake! As this is a barbless only lake, I have also pinched the hook barb right at the start and slid a small gold bead through to the hook eye as the fly head but I haven't found it to be more effective than the plain old single material brown marabou fly!

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