Squirrel Leech, Craven’s

Pattern Description:

This cool little leech pattern is my take on the Wyoming Grey Reef pattern that goes by the name of the Cowboy Leech. The Cowboy Leech has a collar of wrapped squirrel strip that I find a bit too bulky for my taste, so I have subbed in a dubbing loop collar for the same effect without the volume. I tie this fly on a short, curved scud hook as I like how well they hook and hold fish, but you could certainly tie it on a longer shanked, 3 or 4X long hook with good results. Fish this fly on a stout, 3X leader and retrieve with a long slow strip or even fish it dead drift under an indicator. Don’t forget to try flies like this on our local rivers like the South Platte and the Colorado…tons of leeches to be found here at home too.

Materials Needed:
Hook: TMC 2457 #6-14
Thread: UNI 6/0 Rusty brown or to match Squirrel strip color
Bead: Gold or Copper Brass or tungsten Bead, sized to hook
Tail: Pine Squirrel Strip, rusty brown or to match natural
Collar: Fur From Pine Squirrel strip, spun in a dubbing loop

Step 1
Place the bead on the hook and slide it up to the hook eye. Start the tying thread behind the bead and build a smooth thread base to the center of the hook shank. Return the thread to about a quarter shank back from the bead.

Step 2
Tie in a squirrel strip at the 1/4 point on the shank by its butt end. Try to trap just a short section of the hide against the hook with several tight turns of thread. Don’t worry about the length of the strip at the moment, as we will trim it to length later.

Step 3
Part the hair on the end of the strip and trim it to about one to one and a half inches in length.

Step 4
…about like this.

Step 5
Make a loop of thread over the top of the shank and bind it tightly to the hook with a couple turns of thread. make sure the base of the loop is closed with the ends of the loop touching at the hook shank.

Step 6
Put a Dyna-King Dubbing Whirl tool into the base of the loop to hold the legs apart and let the tool hang for a moment. Now, grab that leftover squirrel strip from the tail and separate a small bundle of hair from the hide as shown here.

Step 7
Pull the hair firmly to tear it from the hide. It won’t take much hair to form the collar, so don’t get all crazy.

Step 8
Put the hair in between the strands of the loop, then pinch the strands together directly under the bundle of hair.

Step 9
Hold the two strands of thread together below the hair bundle with one hand and spin the Dubbing Whirl with the other hand until it starts to bind the thread up into a cord. Once the twisted thread strands reach your fingers, let go of the thread and let the twist continue on up through the hair, spinning it into a fur-chenille.

Step 10
Pull the fur rope up above the hook and with wetted fingers, fold the fur back to the rear of the hook like you would fold a wet-fly style hackle feather.

Step 11
Wrap the fur rope forward, one turn in front of the other, up to the back of the bead, folding the fur back after each turn. Tie the base of the rope off with several tight turns of thread. Clip the excess.

Step 12
Build up a smooth thread head behind the bead and whip finish and clip the thread.

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