Mike's Mohair Leech


     Mike Kruse needs no introduction to Missouri trout fishermen.  A highly respected conservationist, fisheries research biologist, and fly fisherman, Mike's list of accomplishments is long and impressive. Also impressive is the fly he originated, Mike's Mohair Leech.

     Trout fishermen everywhere are wanting to know more about Mike's Mohair Leech.  Here are answers to your questions about this outstanding fly, directly from Mike Kruse:  


Mike's Mohair Leech

     I discovered this fly by accident one day when I substituted some olive mohair yarn in the place of olive chenille on a wooly bugger.  I decided to omit the hackle entirely after I realized what a fuzzy body the mohair created.  A few days later, this "simplified wooly bugger" proved deadly on the wild rainbows of Missouri's Crane Creek. mikesml.jpg (6256 bytes) Since then, I've enjoyed great success with this simple fly on all of Missouri's trout waters, throughout North America, and even on the challenging waters of New Zealand.  Friends and guides around the world have all adopted this pattern as an indispensable part of their fly box. 

     "The Leech" is not a pretty fly, but there is no denying its fish catching appeal.  It resembles a wide variety of trout foods besides leeches. Nevertheless, it's ugly like a leech, resembles one in shape, and no other name fits better. If you're a purist, don't bother to read any further...


Hook: Mustad 9672 or equivalent, size 8

Thread:  Olive

Weight:  12 turns of .035" diameter lead wire

Tail:  Olive marabou, tied thick, about shank length

Body:  Olive Mohair yarn, tied fuzzy


     The Leech is so simple that someone who has never tied a fly can produce an effective one on their first try.  In New Zealand, Leeches tied on a 1X long size 10 nymph hook work well.  Friends of mine often fish a black or brown "Leech Variant."  I usually stick with the standard size 8 olive leech, unless conditions demand a smaller (or larger) fly.

A few points to remember when tying The Leech:

*      Make sure to tie a thick marabou tail using good quality marabou. "Wooly bugger" marabou works best because it has fairly thick fibers all the way to the tips.  It is difficult to create a thick enough tail if your marabou has very thin tips.

*     The body must be very fuzzy.  The completed fly should look shaggy, with a few mohair fibers long enough to reach the tip of the tail. Be careful to avoid binding down these long mohair fibers when you wrap the yarn.  Tease the fibers away from the hook shank as you wrap, and you won't have to go back later to "tease-out" the body to make it fuzzy.  You want a fly that has a "halo" of long mohair fibers trailing back along the body. 

*      Make sure to use yarn that is olive throughout. Avoid those varieties marketed as "Leech Yarn" because they invariably have a core that is a different color, usually white.  Also, most of the "mohair" I have seen sold in fly tying shops is very soft, and I believe it flattens-out too much when wet, causing the fly to lose its "halo."  The best mohair is usually available only at specialty yarn stores where you must buy it by the skein.  The mohair I use, in quantities to suit fly tiers, is available at Clearwater Fly Shop in Columbia, Missouri (877-392-3320 or e-mail them at: orders@clearwaterflyshop.com).

     Normally, I fish this fly as I would fish a nymph:  cast upstream and dead drift under a strike indicator.  Be ready for a strike at anytime, but particularly at the end of the drift as the fly begins to drag.  In ponds, I have found The Leech to be very effective when fished with a uniform-sink line and retrieved with short strips or a hand twist. 

Mike Kruse

March 19,1999

All Rights Reserved


2001 update  -   Mike's Mohair Leech continues to gain in popularity as more anglers try it and come to appreciate what a fine fly it truly is.  A good source for obtaining these flies and the mohair yarn needed to tie them is Tim's Fly Shop in Cassville, Missouri ( 417-847-1013 or e-mail them at:  timsfly@hotmail.com ) .  Tim's Fly Shop accepts orders by mail and ships for free .

2009 update  -   The Conservation Federation of Missouri has recognized Mike Kruse for his outstanding contributions to the cause of conservation by naming him the 2009 Water Conservationist of the Year   


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