Leeches are a crucial food source for fish; most species can feast on them despite their size. Unfortunately, most folks find leeches sickening, and they cannot even imagine themselves using them as baits. Luckily, there are many go-to leech imitations that you can use to fish instead of the real leeches. And they are pretty compelling, so here is the best leech fly pattern I could find in the market.
When the leech pattern includes fur, its movement makes it irresistible to many different types of fish. Luckily, many leech patterns like marabou leech and bunny leech can help you attract a wide range of fish. (source)
Nearly every type of fish is a sucker for leeches, and they can feed on them when their other food sources are scarce. (source)
You can find leeches in many water bodies. This article will show you the best leech pattern in the market. We will also show you why you should use leeches when fishing.
Before we talk about the best leech patterns and why you should use leeches for fishing, we should first find out what leeches are. Generally, leeches are worms belonging to the phylum Annelida, and they are closely related to the earthworms.
Fortunately, fish, especially trout, live leeches, and they can feast on them during any time of the day. And thanks to their abundance all over the world’s waters, the fish will never lack food, even during the cold seasons.
Guide Tip: Trout and PIKE love leech fly patterns. Streamers like a bunny leech cause Pike to attack. Check out my favorite pike fly patterns -> Best Flies for Catching Pike
So you must understand their feeding pattern to use them as bait. Contrary to popular belief, the feeding pattern of leeches is quite variable.
Most leeches are not natural bloodsuckers; instead, they are carnivorous creatures that feed on worms, insects, and snails, among others. Some leeches feed on dead bodies, while others are parasitic.
Only two genera feed on human beings’ blood. (source) Therefore, with the correct information, you don’t have to worry about the leeches harming you in any way.
Leeches are an excellent food source for trout since they are present throughout the fishing seasons. Therefore, you have a high likelihood of catching some trout with the correct leech pattern. Leeches can also come in handy in early spring or late fall when other insects are scarce.
The fact that they are always available and trout turn to them during the tough times makes searching for the proper leech patterns. So when other patterns aren’t working, you can continue fishing with the leech patterns.
Unfortunately, a leech guarantees you only one fishable cycle since they die after laying eggs, which is not the case with most insects. Although some leeches can die after laying eggs twice; therefore, you need leech patterns with different sizes and colors. This strategy will make it possible to catch something every time you go fishing.
Another crucial thing you must understand is leech behavior. Generally, the length of leeches is between 1 and 4 inches, but in some cases, it can exceed 6 inches. But since they are sensitive to light during the day, they are usually active in deeper waters. And in shallow rivers, they tend to be active at night.
Leech hides during the brighter parts of the day, so you need to know the right time to use your leech fly patterns. Another behavior that can help you fish is that they hunt by moving up and down in an undulation motion along the base of the river.
So if using live leeches is not an option, you can try the many leech fly patterns available. After all, some designs can be more effective than live leeches and are not yucky to some folks.
Tie a FAST Bunny Leech Pattern
Part of my fly fishing course contains a fly tying module with over 20 fly patterns that every fly fisher should have. The bunny leech is one of those flies. Download the recipe with hooks, materials and a picture below.
Follow along with my tying video below.
Every angler knows that there are many leech patterns in the market for fly fishing. After all, leeches are everywhere, and even in ponds with a few leeches, a lively pattern designed to imitate leeches can help you catch something. Remember, some fly tying materials like mohair, soft feathers, fur, and marabou can help your bait stand out. (source)
But for the bait to attract something, there are a few factors you have to consider when picking the right leech fly pattern. Some of the few things that you have to consider when tying the correct leech pattern are:
For the leech pattern to have a faster sinking rate, its weight must be near or on the fly’s head. Remember, leeches swim in an undulating manner; therefore, adding the weight near the head will help imitate this movement. So the metal bead is either positioned on its head or the first third of the shank before adding the feathers, yarn, and fur. (source)
Leeches have a long-segmented body; therefore, you can only attract the fish by ensuring it has an elongated body. In a pond with lots of leeches, the length of the bait matters a lot. It will guarantee that it sinks while imitating the leeches’ movements. (source)
Besides the standard shape and length of the leech pattern, you need to add an indicator that can help you attract the fish. In most cases, the bait’s color can do the job for you, but in some cases, you will have to add some feathers, yarn, or fur to your bait. (source)
Some leech fly patterns have both an exceptional color and feathers. Still, the colors have to resemble the different leech species.
It is crucial that you understand that many kinds of leech patterns in the market can help you fish. Unfortunately, not all leech fly patterns are easy to tie or cast; some, especially the ones with a poor profile, have a meager sinking rate. So here are some of the best leech fly patterns in the market that I always use when fly fishing:
The Bunny fly leech is a unique pattern that works for a wide range of fish species like bass, trout, salmon, and steelhead. The bunny feather used to make this pattern come to life when cast into the water.
Remember, it is usually tied using a few flash strands that help attract some trophy fish species in the lakes. A bunny leech won’t suck your blood, but it will capture some fish. (source)
The bunny leech is the most straightforward pattern to tie; all you need is bunny fur, hook, and string. And the fact that you need very few materials to tie this pattern is a bonus. You can use the same material to create the tail and the head of the bunny leech.
To add weight to the hook’s shank, you can add a bead. But the fur tends to soak in water when sinking, which will help it fall even faster than usual.
Plus, you can create a light dressing pattern by preparing a narrower strip and some natural colors. The bunny leech fly pattern is ideal for bright days and spring fishing. So when the lake is frigid during spring, you can fish the pattern using either dead drift or light retrieves.
Give it time to sink, and its tail will surprise you. But you have to be very aggressive when the water becomes warm. Plus, you can tie the pattern in a wide range of colors, including chartreuse, which is ideal for catching bass and trout. (source)
Another exceptional leech pattern that lots of anglers love to fish with is the marabou leech pattern. The good thing about this leech fly pattern and what makes it effective like the Wooly Bugger is that it has a segmented body just like a leech.
The marabou and segmented body combination create an ideal undulating motion when cast.
Marabou leech is a still water fly, but it can work in other work in some slow-moving rivers. Luckily, you can tie the marabou leech using all the available leech colors.
Still, most anglers love imitating the black leeches. You can also try red, brown, gray, olive, and maroon as well. (source)
To add weight to your fly, you can add a cement-coated thread head. You can improve its weight and flash to its profile by adding an imitation lead and a bead head on the front part of the hook.
The additional weight will help you fish deeper in the water and create movement when sinking.
To tie this leech fly, you will need a straight or curved shaped hook, lead wire, and thread. The lead wire can come in handy when ribbing and adding weight to the leech fly. You need one marabou feather with a thin stem and feather fibers for this fly. Fluffy feathers don’t work well with marabou leech fly.
Generally, the leaches can attain a maximum length of about 6 inches, but most are about 2 inches long. So the smaller the fly leech pattern, the better it is for catching trout. (source) If this leech fly seems ragged, you should not panic, as it will add character to your bait. Its unique design will help create more movements underwater.
A slumpbuster is an exceptional fly originally tied by John Barr, who wanted it to resemble a baitfish pattern; fortunately, the fly ended up also resembling the leech. When wet, this fly looks like a plentiful baitfish. But when dead drifted or stripped, it resembles a live leech, just like the bunny leech.
Like most flies, the slumpbuster comes with a uni-body construction that includes a unique color, wing, and tail.
This Barr’s creation has a little of everything, and this includes weight, a touch of flash, and an exceptional profile that helps push some water when sinking. Plus, like the other flies on our list, it is easy to tie and use. (source) The slumpbuster works perfectly with a random rig.
Our list would be incomplete if we omitted the woolly bugger. After all, the woolly bugger is the most versatile and prevalent fly in the market that has served anglers for years. The woolly bugger is ideal for fishing steelheads, trout, and bass.
This leech pattern is one of the most popular flies of all time, and there are many ways you can tie this fly. (source)
I’ve also have a video on tying a Woolly Bugger YouTube link -> How to tie a Woolly bugger
This fly pattern works perfectly when dragged across some current. Plus, it’s a must-have if you love trout fishing. Luckily, some of the woolly buggers on the market have a flashy profile that enhances their performance.
It would be best if you had a hook, feather, and matching thread to catch trout or even salmon for this fly. (source)
The woolly bugger has a beautiful marabou feather that makes it ideal for fishing bass, trout, and panfish. This bait’s history can be traced to 1967 when Russell Blessing created it to resemble the dobsonfly nymph. (source)
The egg-sucking leech is the most effective leech fly for catching steelhead, pike, bass, trout, and salmon. So make sure you add it to your arsenal on your next fishing trip. This artificial fly can be pretty successful when fishing all year long. It gets its name because it resembles the process of eating fish eggs.
The egg-sucking leech’s body is dark-colored, just like most leeches, but some of them can be either purple or black. The tip of these flies’ heads is usually orange or bright red, just like a small fish egg. The egg-sucking leech is ideal for steelhead fishing and the most effective when dealing with this species. (source)
Leech fly patterns are excellent imitations of a real-life leech that folks use to fish. These patterns are a perfect solution for folks who find live leeches yucky and can’t even touch them. They have a heavy bead on the front and a tail that gives them more movement when sinking.
Trout consume many aquatic creatures, worms, crustaceans, fish, terrestrial insects, and leeches. Trout are selective feeders, so when the other insects have disappeared, they tend to turn to leeches during the cold seasons.
Well, the answer is yes and no. There is a wide range of leeches in the world that feed on a wide range of food. And only two genera of leeches are known for sucking human blood. The others feed on dead bodies, other fish, and plants.
Fly anglers have been searching for the best dry flies to use for a year, and during their search, they have designed some that resemble what fish feed on in the wild. And one of them is the leech fly patterns, which work perfectly when the trout turns to leeches as their source of nourishment.
Luckily, a wide range of leech fly patterns can guarantee you a catch every time you try fly fishing.
Are you looking for some great How To Fly Fish Articles? Checkout this list:
- How to Fly Fish for Bluegills – These amazing fish are all over the USA. I like to call them the “Gateway Drug to Fly Fishing”
- How to Fly Fish for Brook Trout – Find the cleanest, coldest, most beautiful streams and I’ll bet Brookes are present.
- How to Nymph Fish – Step by Step details for setting up, presenting and catching trout with nymphs.
- How to Fly Fish for Salmon – Image hooking into a +25 pound King Salmon in a river and your Fly Rod breaks! Seriously this happened to me on my first trip.
- Rick Hafele, Leech, https://cpw.state.co.us/Documents/LandWater/Riverwatch/EntomologyContents/FishandLeechPatterns.pdf/ Accessed January 18, 2022
- Wikipedia contributor, leech, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leech/ Accessed January 18, 2022
- Michael Gorman, Effective Stillwater Fly Fishing – An Analytical Approach To Help You Catch More Fish, https://www.google.ca/books/edition/Effective_Stillwater_Fly_Fishing/YnzuAgAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=type+of+leech+patterns+Michael+Gorman,+Leeches&pg=PA21&printsec=frontcover, Accessed January 18, 2022
- YouTube contributor, Tying the Bunny Leech, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO961uK2sTw&t=59s/ Accessed January 18, 2022
- YouTube contributor, Marabou Leech – Fly Tying, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuMjS_jSAqs&t=182s/ Accessed January 18, 2022
- YouTube contributor, Slumpbuster, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xqV1-jhUQg&t=8s/ Accessed January 18, 2022
- Wikipedia Contributor, Woolly Bugger, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woolly_Bugger#Origin/ Accessed January 18, 2022
Wikipedia, Egg-Sucking Leech, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_sucking_leech/ Accessed January 18, 2022