The Fly Tying Series is back after a short hiatus, and for this week I've chosen a must-have pattern for all stillwater fly fishers. The Ruby Eyed Leech, developed by BC's own Brian Chan, a local legend on interior stillwaters. If you need some inspiration on what to tie for lake season, check out Brian's YouTube channel...that or Phil Rowley, or John Kent - you could limit yourself to tying patterns from these three and you'd never run out, they are truly innovators for stillwater fly patterns.
Okay, lets get down to tying this fly. It's quite a simple pattern, utilizing a limited material list, but is ever-productive and you can pound them out in a variety of different colours.
Hook: Size 8 4XL Mustad Hook
Thread: 6/0 Black Uni-Thread
Beads: 1/8" Copper Cone Head
6/0 Red Glass Bead
Tail: Black/Red Arizona Simi-Seal Dub
Body: Black/Red Arizona Simi-Seal Dub
Start by placing the copper cone head at the eye of the hook, followed by the red glass bead - easy peasy. Get your thread tied onto the hook and really snug those two beads together by using some forward tension on your thread wraps.
For the tail, grab a clump of the Arizona Simi-Seal Dub (seriously, this stuff is just the best for leech/stillwater patterns) and kind of spread it out between your thumb and index finger, pulling it apart and teasing out any out of place fibers. Tie your tail on the hook, I like my tail length to be about the length of the hook shank. Once secured, bring the excess dubbing over and tie down (it just adds security and a bit more of a taper to the tail.
Probably the most technical part of the fly, creating the dubbing loop for the body (if you're unfamiliar with this technique, I suggest doing a quick search on Google to get the idea behind it). When placing your dubbing fibers in the loop, you want to tease out any stray fibers and place your clumps perpendicular to the direction of the loop. Spin your dubbing loop until things are looking nice and even, then get out your trusty tooth or velcro brush and get those trapped fibers out. This is so when we wrap the body we can pull the strands back and create that nice, slender tapered look that we want our leech patterns to possess.
As your wrapping the dubbing loop forward to create the body, use your thumb and index finger to pull the fibers back after each wrap. This will help orientate the fibers back towards the tail. Continue your wraps one in front of each other until you reach the red glass bead (if your dubbing loop is too short, like mine was, just tie it off and start another one!). Another little trick for securing the finishing area is applying a little head cement to your thread before making those last few wraps. This technique negates the matting or clumping of your dubbing while trying to dab your finish with head cement.
And voila, whip-finish and the fly is done! Before I load it into one of my fly boxes, I like to take my toothbrush and get those last few fibers orientating back towards the tail. You're left with a nicely tapered, slender leech pattern that is sure to trick a few hungry trout.
*Pro Tip: If there's some memory left in your dubbing fibers and they just aren't laying nicely, get a cup of hot water (near boiling) and dip your fly into it briefly. This will take out any memory left in the fibers!