Balanced Marabou Leech Tied, photographed and written by Matt Dick Materials Hook: Size 10 Mustad 32833BLN Jig hook or similar. Balanced with cut straight pin. Bead: 1/8” (3.5mm) Tungsten (Copper color) Tail: Blood Quill Marabou (Olive) *See Note. Body: Direct dubbed marabou clippings of same color Thread: Olive, 6/0 *Note: When tying this fly, using Blood Quill marabou as opposed to strung marabou seems to have better results when tying in the tail. Blood Quill marabou usually has more cross barbs on the feather that results in a “fluffy” marabou instead of stringy tips. This produces a better taper when the tail becomes wet. Additionally, it is easier to direct dub than it’s stringy counterpart. See photo on next page. Blood Quill Marabou close up – notice the extensive cross barbs and fluffy nature of the feather. Strung marabou usually has a much “stringier” tip to the feather and does not perform quite as well. Dean Baayens of Red Deer, AB first introduced me to a type of balanced fly that was tied using only marabou and was incredibly effective. With his pattern, the tier uses wraps of lead wire in order to add weight behind the eye of the hook, which gives the leech a slightly balanced hang when in the water. Recently, I was shown the fully balanced method of tying flies and have had even more success by modifying Dean’s original pattern. While this pattern performs well when trolled or stripped in short burst, it really shines when fished catatonically or near motionless under an indicator. This methodology is especially effective in early and late season when trout start to stack up in the shallow areas of the lake. By setting the fly to hang at a depth just above the bottom, the fly fisherman can work his way up changing depths until the depth at which trout are actively feeding is determined. This fly works optimally when there is a slight amount of surface turbulence as it imparts a natural motion to the fly, which fish simply cannot resist. During flat calm days, try giving a gentle 2-‐3” strip every 10 -‐15 seconds and often a strike will occur thereafter. The best news? This fly is incredibly easy to tie. The hardest part is balancing the fly: it is advisable to balance the first one you tie and make note of the length of pin you use and then balance all of your other hooks prior to tying the pattern. Tying instructions 1) Start by cutting the point end off of the straight pin. In this case I have cut the pin to be roughly 1cm long. In order to get the proper balancing, you must determine the appropriate length of pin and bead offset for the hook size you are tying. In this example, using a size 10 jig hook and a 1/8” tungsten bead, the fly balances with the bead almost flush to the 90 degree bend in the hook. If you use a larger bead, the offset is less and smaller beads require a longer offset in order to make the fly balance. For this pattern, keep the overall length of the leech short. 2) Tie in your thread and lay a quick foundation on the jig hook. 3) Now lash the pin with the tungsten bead on it to the hook shank. Be very careful with the thread wraps near the cut end of the pin as it is usually quite sharp (unless you file it down) and will easily cut your thread. 4) At this point it is a good idea to check the balance of the fly. Use a half hitch or whip finish to temporarily interrupt your tying and take the fly out of the vise. Using thread or a short piece of tippet, check to ensure the fly balances or is close to balanced at this stage (the materials for tail and body do not effect the balance much). I generally tie all of my pins and beads to the shank at once to speed up tying when doing a batch of these. 5) Tie in a tail using a small bunch of marabou. Try to keep the tail relatively sparse and rather short. I try to keep the tail ½ hook length or even shorter. Tie down the excess marabou forward on the shank – this helps to form the overall body taper we want the finished fly to possess. Wrap your thread back to the rear of the fly. 6) Use a very small amount of dubbing wax and direct dub cut or shredded marabou into a very fine dubbing rope. 7) Wrap the dubbing rope forward to behind the bead, whip finish and you are all finished! Upon completion of the first fly it is a good idea to double-‐check the balance once materials are added. This pattern is very effective in olive, sculpin olive, claret and other similar colors. The bead color does not seem to matter much, but generally copper, gold, red, and similar colors prove effective. Try tying your favorite patterns in the balanced method and throw it under an indicator – you may be surprised at the results!
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