How To Fish Stillwaters

September 13th, 2004

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

Thoughts on Pattern Design

By Philip Rowley

The key feature of any leech pattern is movement. Use materials that make the fly come to life. The two front runners are marabou and rabbit fur. Both of these materials breathe and undulate at every opportunity. Aftershaft feathers, Mohair and brushed-out dubbing are other excellent leech materials. For colors I prefer to stick to the darker shades. My favorites include, green, olive, brown, maroon and black. I am also a big fan of mottled variegated leech patterns. Darker colors offer a great silhouette, a key component for low light or evening fishing. Leeches also have a reflective quality under certain conditions. Using Crystal Chenille or dubbed bodies adds a seductive shimmer to any leech pattern. Mixing peacock herl into a dressing is not a bad choice either.

Another key feature of the leech is its undulating swimming motion. It is important that any leech pattern has this trait, it can be accomplished through strategic weighting. I weight just about all of my leech patterns with either lead wire substitute or bead heads. The most important point to consider is not so much the quantity of weight but its location on the hook. Placing the weight at the front of the fly provides a jigging action during the retrieve. Conversely, some tiers weight the rear end of the fly. The net result is the same.

The last key component is the overall size of the pattern. Trout prefer leeches three inches or less. Large over-dressed patterns are not necessary and in some cases detrimental. I use a size 6 3XL hook for my largest leech pattern. Keep the pattern skinny too. Looking at a leech closely when extended, you'll see it is slender and worm-like; a 3-inch leech has the body diameter of a pipe cleaner. Rotund leech patterns are not in vogue.

Leech patterns are big-fish flies, especially in the fall. ~ PR

More on food opportunities for trout in lakes from Phil Rowley's excellent book, Fly Patterns for Stillwaters next time.

Credits: Excerpt from Fly Patterns for Stillwaters By Philip Rowley, published by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission.

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