The articulated leech at first glance is an intimidating fly to fisherman and tiers alike. For fisherman the sheer size of the fly is able to send most anglers running for cover. While for fly tiers the snared hooks provide the same result.
The articulated leech is a fly pattern that incorporates two separate hooks into its construction. The first hook gets clipped clean off at the hook shank to prevent fouling with the attached lower body during long casts. The connection between the two separate marabou leeches is simply a small bit of mono tied tightly to the hook shank of the lead hook. Large bead chain eyes or tungsten beads are used to weight this fly pattern. Placing the weight on the head section of the lead hook will allow the fly to swim in a peculiar up and down undulating type of motion when the fly line is stripped even slightly.
Leeches are some of the bigger aquatic invertebrates that are found in almost every aquatic environment making them an obvious target and staple food source for hungry game fish. The key to having success with leech patterns is to know when to use them and how. In lakes during early spring before the weeds have had a chance to grow up off the bottom, leeches are left exposed and vulnerable. Imitating these helpless creatures during this time of year with a pattern like the articulated leech can pay great dividends. In stillwater lakes long casts coupled with a count down and retrieve technique will help to produce consistent bites. Fish in these environments are looking for a presentation that consists of a slow undulating swimming type of movement. If you are fishing these lakes in a float-tube slow trolling leech flies around the lake is a very effective and relaxing way to cover large amounts of water.
However, if you are going to be fishing faster moving water like streams or rivers then similarly a faster presentation is going to be needed. Leeches in these fast water environments occasion get swept out from under there hiding places by the current and are forced to swim like mad to reach the safety of the bottom. This fast paced ribbon like movement produced by fleeing leeches is a sure bet for attracting attention. To imitate these fast paced swimmers, a series of short quick strips of line will do the trick. Leeches do not ever stop and rest while in the middle of the water column so as long as your leech is floating keep it moving. If fishing sandy river bottoms a good technique is to make 4-5 quick strips and then let it drop to the sandy bottom for a few seconds. Continue this pattern of swimming then hiding and you will be sure to get a few strikes.
Start this fly by placing the first of the two hooks into your vice and securing it in place tightly. Attach your thread behind the hook eye and advance it to the ½ mark on the hook shank.
Select a nice thick bushy black marabou hackle and tie it down by the tip just behind the ½ point on the hook shank. Gently wrap the marabou as you would a hackle up the hook shank to the back of the eye. Depending on the size of the marabou feather you have in your possession it might take two or three feathers to reach the back of the hook eye.
As you continue to wrap the marabou towards the back of the hook eye, be careful not to wrap down any of the preceding marabou fibers. When you do reach the back of the hook eye with the marabou feather, tie it off with a few half hitches and create a small neat head. Whip finish the thread and cement.
Place the second of the two hooks into your vice and again attach your thread to the hook shank. Clip a three inch section of 6lb mono and bend it in half creating a kink in the mono. Thread the mono through the hook eye of the first leech you tied earlier and wrap it down with thread onto the top of the hook now in your vice. The first leech should be positioned so that hook eye is approximately above the barb on the second hook with the hook inverted. Wrap down the mono with thread very tightly and add few drops of crazy glue just to make sure that the mono will never slip free.
Build the body of the second leech the same way as you did the first. Tie in a marabou feather by its tip and palmer the rest of the feather forward like you would a regular hackle.
When you reach the ½ mark on the hook second hook shank tie in a few black crystal flash strands to add a little sparkle to the fly as it swims.
Continue wrapping the marabou forward up the hook shank until you reach approximately the ¾ mark on the hook shank. At this point tie down a pair of bead chain eyes using a figure eight thread wrap. Adding a drop or two of head cement to the eyes at this point is a good idea just to make sure that the eyes stay on top of the hook shank even after a days worth of abuse.
Create a small neat head in front of the bead chain eyes and then whip finish and cement the thread.