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Freestone Fly Tying Series - Vampire Leech

Vampire Leech

We're starting our tying blog series with the Vampire Leech, a versatile trout fly that will land fish in both lakes and rivers. This pattern was developed by BC competitive fly fisherman and fly tyer Todd Oishi, and full credit goes to him for creating this fantastic bug! Our version has a few variations that I'll go over as we get into the tie. A little more about the deployment of this fly, I use it as a go-to pattern in BC stillwaters and it almost never fails to produce. It's especially effective when fishing deep dark water, the chartreuse bead and UV polar chenille really does the trick.

So i'll get into the details about the pattern, and hopefully cover all the techniques and steps. This really is quite a simple fly to tie, which is great because I tend to pound out a few dozen every year at least! To begin, you're going to want to grab some size 10-14 2XH4XL hooks and stick an appropriately size chartreuse bead on. In this example we're going with a size 10 with a 1/8" bead. After your hook and bead is in your vise, build up a bit of thread dam behind the bead (I used 6/0 black thread) and bring it all the way down to the barb.

Once your thread is at the barb, tie in some nice, feathery pieces of black marabou (black rabbit zonker strips also work well). I usually like a tail that's around the length of the shank of the hook, or even a touch longer. If you find your tail is too long, rip it off with your fingernails rather than cutting with scissors. This will ensure a more natural looking tail!

This step is simple enough, grab 2-3 strands of pearl crystal flash and tie them in approximately the length of the tail, or a touch longer (these you can cut down if needed). 

Now this is where my version of Todd Oishi's pattern starts to deviate a little. I add a chartreuse wire rib into the equation (size small), I feel it just gives it a little extra colour variation. That being said, I often tie this pattern without a wire rib and find it does just as well! The second variation I do from Todd is using a black diamond dub for the body. Todd's version uses a polar UV chenille, which I also use quite often for this fly, but with the hackle added I find the diamond dub makes a real nice underbody.

So after I dub the body (using a generous amount of dubbing), I like to take a wire brush (gun bore brush works well) and pull some of the fibers out a little. This creates a nice buggy look.

This is another variation, adding a nice piece of black hackle. I tie it in at the front when using a wire rib. An important step with wrapping hackle is to take out some of the hackle barbs on the side you're wrapping down first. This ensures the hackle lays nicely on the first wrap and continues to do so all the way to the back. Usually 5 or 6 wraps is what I shoot for.

Once you've brought the hackle to the back of the fly, use the wire rib to tie down the hackle wraps. This can be tricky to do without trapping the hackle barbs down. To keep as many barbs standing as possible, wiggle the wire back and forth through the hackle as you're wrapping. This technique is called "palmering", and there are a lot of how-to's on Google if you're having trouble. Once you've reached the bead, tie off and helicopter the wire. Whip-finish (I think 4-5 wraps is sufficient) and a drop of head cement and this fly is done!

And here it is, the Vampire Leech.....with a few variations! This fly is an absolutely killer pattern, especially for BC Interior lakes. I've fished this a number of different ways, trolling, stripping, under an indicator, and it always produces. It also holds up quite well, another reason I like to add a wire rib in, and is a fairly simple pattern to tie. All of these variables factored in to why I chose this pattern to launch our blog tying series. So what're you waiting for, hit the vise and start loading up your fly boxes!

Tight lines and talk soon,


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