How To Fish Stillwaters

October 13th, 2003

Stillwaters, lakes, ponds and reservoirs are the most underutilized fisheries in the North America. Why? Because the average fly fisher doesn't know how to fish them, or where to start. Stay tuned, you too can master stillwaters! ~ LadyFisher

Henry's Lake Leech

By Marv Taylor, Garden City, ID

    Hook: Mustad 9672 (or 3XL equivalent), 6 - 14.

    Thread: Brown 6/0, prewaxed.

    Tail: Reddish-brown (rust) marabou, body length.

    Body: Reddish-brown (rust) chenille, medium to extra small, depending on hook size.

    Ribbing: Brown saddle hackle, trimmed short.

    Head: Brown on unweighted, black on weighted.

The Henry's Lake Leech was one of the first local patterns I learned to tie. I had float-tubed Henry's Lake in the late '60s and early '70s, and continually heard the "old-timers" at Staley Springs refer to a fly they called "Big Red."

About 1970, the late Jim Wright, one of the top (summer) anglers at the lake, took me under his wing and taught me to tie the pattern. While it didn't convert me immediately into a super successful Big H Fly rodder (I'm still waiting for that to happen) ,it did give me one of the elements I needed to at least compete with the local hot shots.

Learning to tie "Big Red" was important for another reason. The fly has been one of my most successful leech patterns at dozens of other intermountain lakes and reservoirs for the past 30 years.

In the original pattern, Big Jim used rust wool yarn for the body. I switched to chenille when I found I could buy the color I wanted in size 0 and 00 from Danville. The chenille works just as well as wool and is readily available at all times. With yarns that come from yarn shops, about the time I find a hot material, the manufacturer discontinues it and I have to find a replacement. I have found a variegated chenille, rust and dark-olive, also works well for this pattern, (the bottom one in the photo). ~ Marv

About Marv

Marv Taylor's books, Float-Tubing The West, The Successful Angler's Journal, More Fragments of the Puzzle, (Volume I) and More Fragments of the Puzzle, (Volume II) are all available from Marv. You can reach Marv by email at or by phone: 208-322-5760.

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