Chronic Leech

Tied by Brad Bohen

Hook: Mustad 37160 (sizes #4-#16)
Thread: Red, Orange or Hot Pink
Weight: Lead wire .025-.030 seven to ten turns at apex of shank (opposite of hook point)
Tail: Wild Turkey Marabou about two to three times the length of hook – Natural gray is best but dyed colors can be substituted
Body: Natural Gray Muskrat – again natural gray is best but dyed colors can be substituted as with the tail
Rib: Medium Ultra Wire – copper, gold, red. orange
Back: Scud Back – orange, pink, red

Tying Instructions

The Chronic Leech is a very simple pattern to tie once you get used to working with the slightly odd 37160 hook design. Proper weighting is a key to the design of the pattern – as it is built to roll over on its back when fished. This feature provides for a pattern that is very snag resistant.

Step 1 – Wrap a thread base from the hook eye rearward until the tying thread hangs down just behind the bard of the hook. It is critical to not wrap too far into the bend of this hook as reducing the gap with material bulk will be problematic while attempting to set the hook on a fish.

Step 2 – Wrap seven to ten turns of lead wire at apex of the curve in the hook shank – this will put the weight opposite of the point of the hook. This weighting set-up allows the pattern to roll over on its back when fished.

Step 3 – Tie in Ultra Wire.

Step 4 – Tie in tail of Wild Turkey Marabou. Tail should be about 2-3 times the length of the hook shank.

Step 5 – Tie in Scud Back material.

Step 6 – Underbody – use thread to build up an even underbody from tail to eye of hook. The portion rearward of lead weight should be filled in with tie down material at this point. The portion in front of the lead weight will need to be built-up to match.

Step 7 – Dub the body with muskrat dubbing from tail to eye.

Step 8 – Bring Scud Back material over body wing case style and tie off behind the hook eye.

Step 9 – Rib Ultra Wire forward over body and scud back. Generally 8-12 wraps.

Step – 10 Whip finish and cement head.

Step – 11 Pick out body material between the ribbing to give a nice buggy appearance.

Step – 12 GO FISH!

The Chronic Leech was originally designed to deal with very picky spring creek trout in the upper Driftless region of Wisconsin. The original fly utilized the luster and sheen of natural wild turkey marabou and natural gray muskrat fiber – these materials give off a very appealing profile in both ultra clear water and off-color conditions.

While the original gray/gray color combination remains the most popular there is an almost limitless ability to mix and match tail and body colors. Black/orange, black/pink, black/blue, olive/olive, olive/green, gray/red, red/red, orange/orange, grey/orange…well you get the picture. You can mix and match to your (and the fishes) hearts content on this one sportsfans.

Since it’s baptism in the spring of 2000 this pattern has been fished all over the globe and has proven effective for over 40 species of fresh and saltwater fish. Spring creek trout, steelhead and salmon, all manner of warm water fish from panfish to bass to walleye to carp and a variety of flats oriented saltwater fish all have shown a fondness for the Chronic Leech.

The key to this pattern is it’s versatility in mimicking a variety of food forms from earthworms, hellgrammites and cranefly larva to swimming mayfly nymphs like hexagenia and isonychia to representing life forms such as crayfish and small baitfish.

The Chronic Leech can be fished right on the bottom without snagging up. It makes a dynamite winter trout and steelhead pattern – let it sink into the deepest hole and ever-so-slowly twitch it back across the bottom.

Or you can fish it dead drift through riffle water and deep runs…

Or swing it wet fly style…

Or strip and twitch it like a streamer!

I am happy that this pattern has provided so many anglers with such a variety of success. Every season it seems that someone somewhere comes up with another story of taking a difficult fish on a Chronic Leech.

Paul Mueller the former owner of Summit Fly Fishing Company in St. Paul, MN took a trout on the first cast of the first Chronic Leech and I thought to myself hmmmm, this may be a good one. It is!

Tie on and try one for yourself :cool