By Nick Simonson
The pheasant leech is a great pattern that utilizes those tiny underfeathers which rest beneath the more prominent rump feathers to make up a super-soft body. Combined with a pheasant marabou tail and collar, this fly is a perfect “on-the-menu” pattern for late summer, as leeches are prevalent and tough to turn down. With some wire wraps, this fly gets down deep for bass, crappies and even walleye.
Hook: Streamer Size 4-10
Thread: Black 6/0
Weight: .02-Diameter Lead
Tail: Dark Pheasant Marabou
Flash: 4 Strands of Krystal Flash
Body: Pheasant Underfeathers
Collar: Dark Pheasant Marabou
Start your pheasant leech by wrapping enough .02-diameter Lead around the hook shank to cover the area from the bend to one eye length behind the hook eye (1). Secure the lead with thread wraps from just behind the hook eye to the bend, and tie in a pinch of dark pheasant marabou and two strands of krystal flash on each side to form the tail of the streamer (2).
Select the first of your gray underfeathers and tie it in by the butt. Advance your thread forward, and gently wrap the first underfeather forward into place, securing with a couple of thread wraps and trimming the excess (3). You’ll find underfeathers are prone to breaking, so wrap them very gently. Repeat this process with as many underfeathers needed to form the body, and stop just behind the hook eye (4).
Tie in another marabou feather, but this time, strip the fibers at the butt end and tie it in by the exposed stem to form the hackle collar (5). Advance your thread to the hook eye and turn the hackle around the hook shank, forming the marabou collar of the streamer, trimming off the excess (6).
Build a thread head, whip finish and add a drop of cement. Your pheasant leech is done (7). In the water it loses the puffy appearance you see in the step-by-step and becomes much more leech-like in profile, with sweet undulation from the marabou fibers.
Use this streamer for hungry bass at dusk and dawn in mid-summer for a monster bite, or save a few for fall when brown trout are on the prowl. Year round, it gets down and triggers a strike with its irresistible motion and a little added flash.
(Featured Photo: A largemouth bass took this pheasant leech streamer on a warm summer day. Cast them around structure, like docks and timber, and along weedlines for summer success, or in the shallows of running rivers for walleyes and smallies in spring. Simonson Photo)