Waste Troll Leech-Camo
Hook: Daiichi 2220 #6-#10, Weighted
Thread: MFC 8/0 or UTC 70, Olive
Tail: Mottled Marabou, Brown, Olive, Black and two strands of Crystal Mirror Flash along each side of the tail.
Body: UV2 Grizzly Saddle, One brown, One olive
Tying Notes: Vary the body and tail colors to match a variety of leeches
Leeches are slender, mobile and variegated. Accomplished swimmers, leeches move through the water using a rhythmic, ribbon-like motion. Successful leech patterns must be animated, through our retrieves and the materials we choose to tie them with.
One of my favorite material choices is the soft flue found at the base of most feathers. The stuff most tyers typically strip from the feather and discard. The soft flue from feathers such as grizzly marabou, pheasant rump and grizzly saddle hackles is fantastic for creating slender supple leech bodies. Each of these feather types offers a variety of color options as they all react differently to dye baths. My current personal favorites are grizzly saddle feathers. Their overall light base accepts a variety of dye colors and due to the featherís dark barring, a natural mottled look.
A smaller, secondary feather, aftershaft or filoplume to some, is often attached to the larger base feather. These secondary feathers are also ideal candidates for smaller leech bodies and make wonderful thoraxes on a variety of nymph patterns including damsels and Callibaetis.
The challenge of using the soft flue at the base of a feather is trying to manage the stiff uncooperative stem. If you try to wind a feather such as a grizzly saddle or pheasant rump feather around the hook the stem makes it almost impossible, pinching the stem prior to tie in works sometimes but the mass of the stem results in bulky bodies. For years all I could do was admire the soft flue until I could find a way to incorporate it efficiently into my flies.
Thanks to Swiss fly tyer and innovator Marc Petitjean, integrating pheasant rump, grizzly saddle and grizzly marabou fibers into flies is easy. Marc created the Magic Tool, a set of clear plastic benches and clips that allow you to manage difficult materials and combine dissimilar materials such as dubbing and feathers. The benches are spring loaded. Under pressure, their jaws open to fold and control a variety of materials. The wedge shaped clear clips are used to remove the folded materials from the bench and transfer them into a dubbing loop.
With a bit of practice the Magic Tool is easy to use. Choose a bench that is just slightly shorter than the length of the feathers you intend to use. Holding each feather by the tip, stroke the fibers towards the butt of the feather so they stand perpendicular to the stem. Lay the prepared feather flat on top of the bench so the stem lies along the jaw seam. I often blend two different colored feathers together. If you use a second feather place it on the first feather so the butt section lays on the lower feather ensuring the stem diameter remains consistent along the length of the bench, easing the folding process.
With the feathers prepared and on the bench, grab the butts and tips of the feathers at each end. Using smooth firm pressure, force the stems between the bench jaws, folding the feathers in the process. Taking care not to open the bench jaws, trim the excess butts and tips sticking out of the side of the bench.
Locate the appropriate sized clip. Take the bench and turn it sideways. Pinch and hold the feather tips using the clear clip. The clear clip allows you to adjust the depth of your pinch and the subsequent length of the fibers you will be inserting into the dubbing loop. When tying leech patterns I keep the flue as long as I can for maximum movement.
With the tips of the flue held by the clip open the jaws of the bench. Using a smooth deliberate sweeping motion, slide the bench down and away to expose the feather stems. Trim the exposed stems from the feather flue. The prepared feathers are now ready for insertion into the dubbing loop.
Insert the narrow end of the loaded clip into the dubbing loop. Once the entire width of the clip is within the loop gently draw the clip back until the thread strands of the loop pinch the tips of the flue. Pulling down slightly on the loop creates thread tension to hold the materials. As with the bench tool, use a deliberate pinch to open the clip and release the flue. With the materials successfully transferred to the dubbing loop begin twisting it tight. Start slowly and then increase the tempo until the materials are twisted within the loop. Spinning too aggressively at first may throw the light flue from the loop due to the inertia of your actions. When the fibers radiate perpendicular to the loop the dubbing noodle is tight enough to wind forward and form the body.
Prior to winding the dubbing noodle forward stroke the dubbing noodle to loosen any fibers that might have been trapped by the twisting process. To complete the body wind the dubbing noodle forward placing each wrap directly in front of the preceding wrap. Stroking the fibers back after each wrap ensures you donít accidently trap any fibers as you form the body.
In addition to leech patterns, soft materials such as feather flue make excellent material choices for a variety of stillwater flies. Dragon, damsel and mayfly nymphs are excellent candidates. Scruffy and unkempt, these soft mobile patterns look more like the bits and pieces left in the waste troll. Once wet, these dishevelled flies spring to life and have become one of my favorite pattern styles, particularly on clear lakes where bright gaudy patterns are often ignored by suspicious trout.
1) Cover the front third of the hook shank with .015Ē lead wire or lead wire substitute. Coat the lead underbody with brushable superglue. Attach the tying thread just back from the hook eye. Build up a thread ramp in front of the lead underbody. Move the tying thread to the rear of the lead wire underbody. Build up a thread ramp at the rear of the lead to lock it in place. Cover the balance of the hook shank with thread. Return the tying thread to the rear of the lead underbody. Using a red permanent marker, color the hook eye to identify it as a weighted pattern. Strip a clump of fibers from one side of a marabou plume. Tie in the marabou clump directly behind the lead underbody so the tips extend past the bend of the hook roughly shank length. Secure the marabou back along the shank to the bend.
2) Tie in two moistened strands of Crystal Mirror Flash on top of the shank just in front of the hook point so there are equal amounts of material on either side of the tie in point. Moistening both strands keeps them manageable and easy to work with. Secure the two strands to the rear of the tie in point along the near side of the shank to the base of the tail. Advance the tying thread forward to the original tie in point. Fold the remaining two strands back down the far side of the shank and secure them back down the shank to the base of the tail. Form a four inch dubbing loop at the mid-point of the shank and secure back along the top of the shank back to the base of the tail. Insert a dubbing twister into the loop and let it hang.
3) Lay one brown, and one olive UV2 Grizzly Saddle feather onto a Magic Tool bench. Make sure the feathers are laid onto the bench opposite to each other, butt to tip so the feather stems lay down the middle of the bench. Using smooth firm pressure, force and fold the feathers between the bench jaws. Trim the portions of the feather protruding out the sides of the Magic Tool bench.
4) Using a Magic Tool clip, grab and hold the soft tips of the folded grizzly saddle feathers. Pinch the base of the Magic Tool bench to open the jaws. Slide the Magic Tool bench down and away from the folded feathers exposing the stems. Trim the exposed stems from the feathers now held in the jaws of the Magic Tool clip.
5) Insert the Magic Tool clip into the dubbing loop. Pinch the butts of the grizzly saddle in the dubbing loop. Use gentle down pressure to maintain thread tension on the dubbing loop. Gently open the jaws of the Magic Tool clip to release the grizzly saddle plumes that should now be held within the dubbing loop.
6) Begin slowly twisting the dubbing loop tight. Avoid fast aggressive spins as they can throw the soft UV2 Grizzly Saddle fibres from the dubbing loop. Once the fibers are trapped within the dubbing loop increase the tempo of the spinning motion until the fibers radiate out perpendicular to the loop.
7) Wind the dubbing loop forward to the hook eye from the base of the tail. Sweep the fibers back after each wrap to avoid trapping them down. Tie off the dubbing loop and trim the excess. On all but the smallest sizes it will take at least two dubbing loops to form the body. Repeat steps four through eight as necessary to complete the body. Once the body is complete build a neat head, whip finish and apply head cement.