By: Adam Spence
We’ve decided to move our Big Fly post day to Mondays, as it works out a little better for our schedules. Leech patterns are a staple in most streamer junkies’ boxes. Today, we’re featuring one that has found a permanent home in my box: Mike Schultz’s Red Eyed Leech.
Main target species: Smallmouth bass
Prime water to fish it in: The Red Eyed Leech is a great choice in early spring when the water temps are still pretty chilly and the smallies are hanging out in deeper runs and pools. I also like to tie one on if I see a pool or run below rip-rap, or a rock pile on or near the bank.
How to fish it: This fly rides hook point up, so if you feel the need to get it down, you can use intermediate or full sinking line to get you there quickly, and you won’t have to worry about getting hung up on the bottom as much. I like to fish the Red Eyed Leech using floating line and a longer fluorocarbon leader. The floating line is easier to mend when I need to, and the weight of the fly and length of the leader still lets me get it down in the water column where I want it to be.
Action: When I use the Red Eyed Leech in early spring, smallmouth are usually a bit sluggish due to the colder water. I love this fly because I can fish it slow and still get plenty of action from the rabbit strip tail, dubbing and flash. I am usually jigging this fly, utilizing the up and down motion that cold water fish seem to love. If jigging isn’t getting it done, try slow stripping on either an intermediate sinking line or even with your floating line and long leader.
Colors: I use black and olive, but brown would be a good color too, depending on water clarity. I know others have had success with non-traditional leech colors as well. As a changeup, I will tie what I call the “Mutant Leech”, and use chartreuse silli legs to create a skirt- essentially creating something like a bass jig in the conventional world. I like it when I think the fish want a little more wiggle.