This is another single-material fly that I like to use on some of the bigger streams in The Driftless Area of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. You can use wire or a bead to give the fly the weight it will need to get to the bottom of the stream, and I typically opt for a bead just because it’s faster. This fly has a marabou tail, with a dubbing-loop marabou body, and that’s it.
A good way to determine what colors of marabou to use for this fly is to check your boots and waders whenever you’re done fishing for the day. After fishing the bigger streams in the area, I will often find leeches clinging to my boots and waders. I used to tie this fly only in black, but after finding so many leeches that are sort of a mottled-charcoal-gray-brown, I’ve switched to tying these little guys in brown and black.
Over the years, I’ve shrunk the size of the fly as well. I’m dating myself here, but when I think of leeches, I often remember Katherine Hepburn rubbing salt on the leeches that were sucking the blood out of Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen. Those leeches were big and black, as you might imagine Hollywood would depict them. But the leeches where I fish are actually pretty small, maybe a quarter inch in diameter and an inch or two in length. So that’s how I tie them.
Fish these guys on a dead drift near the bottom with a strike indicator, or cast them downstream and strip them back like a streamer. Another effective method is to pair them up with a small nymph used as a dropper fly about 15 inches below the leech.
Thread: black or brown
Bead: any bead that gets the fly down towards the bottom of the stream
Material: a mixture of black and brown marabou feathers
Though I learned this fly as a trout fly, it has also worked well for panfish. Plus, if you’re having a tough time catching bass on a given day, tie on a small leech like this and it may just change your luck.