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Micro Leeches

The Boogie Man
Designed by Bob Taylor

Hook:  Daiichi 1120 or 1150, #10-#14
Tail:    Strung Marabou, Black
Rib:     Fine or Medium Red Wire
Body:  Strung Marabou, Black
Collar: UV Black Ice Dub
Bead:  Brass or Tungsten, Gold or Black

Hanging leeches under indicators is now common on most western Canadian stillwaters.  Arguably, you could spend the entire season suspending only chironomids and leeches under indicators and consistently take fish.  In recent years, tiny micro leeches have evolved adding yet another dimension to this deadly presentation option. 

Traditional leech patterns are often tied on #6 through long shank #10 hooks.  Micro leeches, as their name suggests, step down a level, ranging from #10 to #14 hooks depending upon style and choice.  I prefer #12 to #14 hooks when tying my long shank micro leech patterns.

A short shank curved scud/pupa hooks allows you to use larger hooks while still maintaining an overall tiny profile.  Another benefit of a curved scud/pupa hook is its ability to hold trout during a fight as the short shank offers trout little in the way of leverage advantage.  I also prefer scud/pupa hooks for suspending micro leeches under indicators as I feel they dance and wiggle in an a more appealing manner than long shanked patterns when attached to my tippet via a non-slip loop knot.

Most micro leech patterns are tied using dubbing, marabou or a combination of both.  Many tyers prefer strung marabou for their micro leeches.  Fine fibered strung marabou breathes and undulates under the slightest movement.  The average strand length also allows you to form the tail and the body out of a single marabou clump. 

To reduce the tail from fouling around the hook bend it is important to tie in the marabou at the rear of the shank, just before it transitions into the bend.  Adding a few wraps under the tail, after the initial tie in, cocks the tail further reducing the risk of fouling.  When it is time to form the body twist the remaining marabou strands into a rope and wind them forward. 

I am not a fan of pinching marabou tails to size preferring to measure the tail against the hook shank to ensure suitable length.  In my opinion, pinching the tail to size removes the fine tapered tips of the feather which are critical for subtle movement.  The flue found at the base of most feathers is another excellent source of fine fibered micro leech tail material.

Slender dubbed marabou bodies are another micro leech option.  Try forming a dubbing noodle by twisting a few strands and around the thread and winding forward.  Blending two or more contrasting marabou colors together allows you to tie unique mottled micro leeches.

Conventional dubbing mixes are also excellent choices for micro leech bodies, tails and as Bob’s Boogie Man illustrates, contrasting collars.  I prefer to use a dubbing loop for my micro leeches as they produce scruffy, translucent durable bodies.
Wire based dubbing brushes are an alternative to thread based dubbing loops.  Dubbing brushes can be produced en masse using homemade or commercially available dubbing blocks.  In addition to their durability, pre-made dubbing brushes enable you to churn out patterns at an accelerated paced during each tying session.   A number of tying companies offer wire dubbing brushes if you don’t have the time or tools to manufacture your own.

Dubbing can also be used to create slender mobile tails.  To form a dubbed tail, roll a slender pinch of dubbing between your thumb and forefinger to align the fibers.  Tie in the prepared bundle at the rear of the hook so there are equal amounts of dubbing on each side of the tie in point.  Wind the tying thread forward a few turns. Fold the dubbing forward of the tying thread back over the dubbing pointing back and bind it down with tying thread back to the hook bend.  Shear and trim the finished tail to length using a single scissors blade.

Long strand Mohair dubbing mixes are popular leech choices for micro leeches and traditional leech patterns.  After the fly is complete the strands are often pointing all over the map. Coaxing and manipulation is required to get the fibers flowing back so they suggest the slender profile of a natural leech. 

To begin the taming process, I use a Velcro brush to roughen, stroke and comb the fibers back along all sides of the fly.  Next, using a microwave or kettle, warm a cup of water just below the boiling point.  Using a pair of forceps to hold the hook, dip the fly into the cup of water and saturate it by moving it back and forth.  After a few seconds, remove the fly from the water. Carefully stroke the fibers back along the body and set it aside to dry.  The near boiling water removes the memory from the dubbing fibres allowing you to style your flies as you wish. 

Micro leeches often need help to sink.  Metal beads, preferably tungsten, are the most popular option. Tungsten beads are 10 times heavier than brass beads, an added benefit when fishing in windy conditions.  Wind creates circulation currents that can retard the sink rate of small flies.  Lead wire or lead wire substitute bodies can also be used both with and without metal beads.  Just be careful that the weighted underbody doesn’t negatively affect the slender profile common to successful micro leech patterns.

Dangling micro leeches beneath an indicator is a season long option.  Try them as chironomid emergences wane, when fishing is quiet due to low water temperatures or unsettled weather, during early spring just after ice out and in late fall just prior to ice on.  Micro leeches are also a favored choice when trout focus on tiny Hyallela scuds.  Trying to match these minute crustaceans can be both frustrating and intimidating.  What is important to recognize with Hyallela fixated trout is they are feeding. Micro leeches make the perfect snack.

Step by Step Tying Instructions

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