Tying the Balanced Leech by George Krumm
The Balanced Leech can be extremely effective for fooling trout, especially on windy days. Balanced Leeches are designed to hang horizontally when fished below an indicator. Wind provides the action to the fly.
Almost any fly can be tied in a “balanced” form. However, leeches and ‘bugger type patterns are what I usually tie in balanced format.
The fly is simple to tie, yet absolutely deadly at times.
I generally tie it in three general color schemes (black blends, maroon blends, olive blends), and three sizes (6, 8 and 10). It’s important to tie this fly sparsely in order to create translucence and to maximize the movement of the dubbing and marabou fibers in the water.
This fly works best if you tie it to your tippet with a non-slip mono loop knot.
Balanced leeches can be tied in small sizes for typical trout, and can be tied on bigger, heavier hooks for larger trout. For instance, on a trip to Jurassic Lake a couple of years ago I tied them on Matzuo 3x heavy jig hooks in size 6. With these, I landed fish to 19 pounds.
The materials needed to tie a typical version of the pattern are as follows:
- Hook: Blue Wing Olive 5220 size 8 jig fly hook or Umpqua C400BL barbless jig hook
- Dritz beading pin #89, size 14-7/8” trimmed to 2/3 the hook shank length
- Tungsten bead (color to suit; a Blue Wing Olive 3/16” (4.6 mm) metallic blue was used for this fly)
- Uni-thread, 6/0 (color to suit)
- Marabou (color to suit; black used for this version)
- Wapsi premium dubbing wax
- Arizona Simi Seal dubbing (#21 Black/Blue used for this fly)
- Brush-on Krazy glue
Here are the steps to tie the Balanced Leech:
- Put a suitable jig fly hook into the vise and form a thread base starting at the eye of the hook, down to the bend and back up to the hook eye.
- Put a tungsten bead on the pin with the wide hole towards the pin head, and lash down the pin with secure wraps. Be careful around the end of the pin as it is sharp and may cut your tying thread. The bead needs to be positioned forward of the hook eye in order to balance the fly. I usually position the bead about one bead’s width forward of the hook eye. Brush Krazy glue over all thread wraps.
- Tie in a somewhat sparse clump of marabou to form the tail. The tail should be slightly longer than the hook shank. Lash it down to the end of the pin, then clip off excess. Ending the marabou where the pin ends helps form a smooth underbody.
- Form a four-inch long dubbing loop just forward of the tail, and wax it. Add dubbing to the loop. A thin, uniform amount works best.
- Spin the loop, and use a dubbing needle and/or medium stiff toothbrush to free any trapped fibers.
- Wrap forward, sweeping the fibers back after each wrap. Wrap past the hook eye and all the way to the bead. If you don’t make it to the bead, form another dubbing loop and continue. The dubbing should push on the bead a little to help hold it securely against the pin head. Pick out the dubbing with a dubbing needle and then brush it vigorously with a medium-stiff toothbrush to free trapped fibers. Then, trim the fibers all around so that they are shorter than the tail is long. Note: You can tie this without a dubbing loop by simply dubbing the fibers onto the thread and then picking them out. However, the dubbing loop method produces a more durable fly.
- Holding your tying thread parallel to the ground, brush some Krazy glue onto your tying thread, covering about an inch of thread. Immediately wrap three or four wraps of thread between the dubbing and the bead. Whip finish.
Finished Balanced Leech.
George Krumm is the editor for Fish Alaska. He can be reached at email@example.com.