Leech Question/Thoughts [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Leech Question/Thoughts

02-26-2005, 09:38 PM
Any suggestions fishing marabou/bunnie-type leeches in rivers for steelhead?

I've tried everything from dead drifting, to swinging, to stripping. Apparently, I'm not very good at it sinceI am not successful in catching fish with them.

Also, I was wondering if anyone had suggestions regarding the use of cones and/or barbells for weight. If I use a turned-up eye hook and put the barbell on top, it seems that the position of the fly in the water is erratic. But when I use a staright-eyed hook I can place the barbell on the underside of the eye (i.e. - with the hook in the typical downward position) the fly swims with the hook in the upward position, making for fewer snags on the bottom. For this reason I have quit using cones.

Any comments and suggestions are appreciated.

02-27-2005, 07:50 AM
Hi Steelfeathers,

You will get many replys to this if posted in the Pacific Steelhead forum.

03-09-2005, 09:54 PM
I fish leaches on the swing - the slower the better! If you put in the time with leaches in the correct water for holding fish you will get the hits, just don't use light leaders!

03-09-2005, 10:45 PM
It'll come man.......have faith.

I'd venture to say that ALOT if not MOST PNW Steelheaders have some bunny and marabou in their boxes.

As for barbells or coneheads.....depends on the water and also if you are throwing tips or not. Sink tips will (For the most part) eliminate the need for additional weight on a fly.

IF I use barbells on a fly - I usually tie them on the underside of an up-turned eye hook (EG: Tiemco 7999). This keeps the hook riding right side up for the up eye. I use them both ways I guess.....well, I used to. I dont have any weighted flies in my box now. Instead, I have a bunch of sink tips to get that fly down to Mr. Steely's eye level.

Where are you primarily fishing?

03-10-2005, 05:36 AM
Three things I would offer having gone through this learning curve moons ago...

1) Weight is not necessary
If you have faith in the tips as Jay points out, the action more than makes up for the lack of lead as long as the tip puts the fly in the right column

2) action is the most important thing
So when you tie a popsicle tie a 'wiggler' in on the bend that runs straight out like a tail, then palmer up front and finish with a collar (e.g. mallard over orange, or guinea over black, etc). This creates a foil effect and a pollywog wiggle action that gets more grabs. This is what led me to come up with the bunny rat and matuka rat patterns. The muddler head on those flies creates even more wiggle and I have had many multiple fish days on that pattern over the years.

2) use transitioning colors and/or highlights
For shrimpy popsicles I start with a base of white, then layer a little mustard, finally finish with a steelhead orange to create a multi-layered color scheme that looks very much like a fresh sand shrimp. For the dark side, the wiggler could be red, purple, blue or orange and the palmering feathers transition toward the front black or purple with a matching collar. Again, the collor helps stiffen the front which creates a foil to make the tail wiggle.

The key - let these flies swim, dead drifting them is close to useless. Hang them in the current slower than the current speed and let the tension dance them, use the tip to put them in the right column and invade the slots and seams with it and hang on!

03-11-2005, 12:03 AM
I agree with Juro that you do not need much weight on the fly - it is all about the action and about giving the fish as long a look at the fly as possible, hence the suggestion to slow down the swing. You do not always have to "hit them on the beak" - if they get a good look at a fly wriggling away in the current they will often move up in the water column to hit it, especialy if the water is of reasonable temperature.

03-13-2005, 11:03 PM
Speydoc, Luv2flyfish, and Juro - All of your comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

A comment I keep hearing that I sill puzzle over is that of "fishing slower than the current". If I quarter down or cast directly across the current it seems that my choice for getting the fly to fish slower than the current is limited an upstream mend (or more than one as the fly continues down stream. I can strip the fly toward me, but that does nothing for slowing it down. Any other suggestions?

I just returned from the OP where I fished the Hoh and Queets. Not much luck, got one nice Dolly and several good tugs, but they didn't hang on. All on marabous tied on Waddington shanks. Used medium sink tip most of the time. Got me to wondering if the way a hook is tied on the back of a waddington (fireline about 1.5 inches beyond the shank) may be assisting he fish, rather than me.

I did find that weighted flies were no advantage over non-weighted.

Luv2flyfish - For the sake of employment, I've stuck myself in eastern WA. But I fish most of the state, especially the magnificent east side rivers (OP, Sky) and OR (Sandy, Deschutes, Clack).
Thanks again guys.

03-14-2005, 11:23 AM

Not much for giving advice but have been doing this for years, (steelhead fishing).

I think most will agree with me that winter steelhead fishing is like any athletic event. It takes lots of time on the water and in doing so you develope a kind of toughness or focus in the activity. You can get all the advice from others and put them to good use but in the end what you will find that is you figured out it's your observations about your experience that start to make the difference. Just learning about going through the long hours of no fish yet still developing your focus on every cast and swing is an eventual winner. If you have a home river then learn its runs, its relationship to when fish move through different streches of river and when they may hold up. Just going out and fishing new rivers is very tough for everyone but with lots of time on rivers you will help your odds by previous observations of your home river in identifying good and likely holding water in new rivers. With lots of time on the water you will figure out how to swing a line and at what speed, how much mend for each cast because as you move through a run most runs change in every manner possible and you have to identify that. But you can not really get advise or schooling in such observations only time on the river and developing your observations of what you see, feel what it takes to at least put some odds in your favor in one of the toughest things possible catching winter wild steelhead. I'm a strong believer that observation and a strong natural instinct is what make good fishermen be it fly or other wise. When you walk down to a river run and know what you are looking at be it new water or old then the how you fish that run will not be dictated by others but from what you learned through hard work and sound observations. It can be tought but ya just got to get out there and figure it out.
Best of luck you will get it just keep at it.