Bass Leech
  |  First Published: April 2005

Some of the best flies to use and tie are the simple patterns. The completed Bass Leech looks complicated but is an easily tied fly that works a treat on bass, saratoga, golden perch and even cod. It has plenty of flash and movement, which is probably the reason hungry fish regularly engulf it as it slowly sinks along the front of a weed bed or in a shaded area. Like all fly patterns, there is a huge range of colour combinations and variations in which this fly can be tied.


The Bass Leech gets its name from the way it moves in the water. I fish this fly with a couple of different stripping techniques. The first way is by doing three or four quick, yet short, strips and then letting the fly sink a little before repeating. This gives the fly an erratic action that the bass usually can’t resist. It works best when the bass are fairly active, usually early morning, late afternoon or when the barometer is over 1000hpa and rising. The second stripping technique consists of a single, long and fast strip and then a six to eight second pause as the fly sinks again. This one is great when the bass are a little lethargic and works well along the front of a weed bed during the day. Most strikes come as the fly is sinking or as you start the strip.

The third way of stripping the fly is with very short yet continuous mends (similar to fishing nymphs for trout) which gets the fly slowly moving through the water with a slightly weaving action. This is my favoured retrieve for saratoga and bass, especially along steep shaded banks, as the fly closely imitates the action of a leech wriggling through the water,


Like all flies, there are no hard and fast rules about which materials or colours you must use to tie the Bass Leech. The chenilles used for the body can vary a lot and some of my favourites include variegated, crystal, estaz and super salt. The backing material is zonker, which is a thin strip of dyed rabbit fur (or possibly cat if you hate moggies). The slightest twitch will see a lot of movement from the hair and even the tail will look like it is kicking along. The Estaz chenille gives some bulkiness to the fly (important for saratoga) and the longer fibres move when the fly is stripped to give a little flash. The bead chain eye encourages the fly to slowly sink between strips with a head down profile. I usually use a contrasting colour to the rest of the fly. Darker colours such as olive, brown, black, claret and purple seem to work well on Bass Leeches as they silhouette well against the back-drop of a weed-bed. The best hook to use is a stinger pattern, as outlined in the February fly, the Bass Buggerer.


Step 1. Tie in the black flat-waxed nylon thread with a jam knot (or similar) at the point where the hook starts to turn at the rear of the shank. Tie on the end of your Estaz chenille at this point as well, and then just let it hang. Advance the thread along the hook shank until it is just behind the eye of the hook.

Step 2. Get a medium gold bead chain eye and attach it in about 3 to 4mm behind the eye of the hook with a series of figure eights. Whip finish off in front of the bead chain eye but do not cut off the remaining thread. Just leave the bobbin hanging.

Step 3. Palmer (wrap) the chenille along the hook shank up to the bead chain eye. Close wraps will give a bulkier fly and spread out wraps will give a finer fly. Place the Estaz between the two beads of the eyes (over the top) and whip finish it off with the thread between the eye of the hook and the eye of the fly.

Step 4. Choose a piece of zonker strip that is quite dense and cut a piece about twice as long as the shank length of the hook. Part the hair where you cut the skin so that the hair still has the nice tapered look at the tail. The natural fibre of the hair needs to lie backwards towards the tail of the fly as in the photo. At the front of the zonker (the end we will tie in at the head) cut it into a V shape. This will make it easier to tie in. Put the V-shaped end in the gap between the hook eye and the eye of the fly and tie in firmly with several wraps of thread. Whip-finish and cut off the remaining thread. Now tie the thread in with a jam knot, just behind the chenille at the rear of the fly. Part the hair where the thread wraps will go over (wet it if necessary) so that you are only tying down the skin and not the hair of the zonker strip. Make sure you have pulled the zonker tight when you are doing this so that it doesn’t bunch up after tying. Tie down the zonker and then whip-finish by hand, as you will not be able to use a whip finish tool this far back on the fly. Put a little head cement on the thread at each tie down point. Your Bass Leech is now ready for action


HOOK: Gamakatus B10S size 2

THREAD: Black flat-waxed nylon

EYE: Medium gold bead chain

BODY: Tiewell Black Estaz chenille

BACK: Olive-Variant Zonker-Strip

FINISH: Head cement

Reads: 87

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