Beginner’s Fly Tying: Egg-Sucking Leech

By Don Fine
View our instructional video for tying these flies. This video includes several chapter markers so you can easily jump to the section you wish to view — visit our YouTube channel to easily jump to the chapter of your choice. Written instructions for each fly are presented below.

Hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday and that these early winter days have given you an opportunity to relax with a favorite beverage, while you tie some flies for the coming colder months. For our January Beginner’s (virtual) Fly Tying session, I have chosen another streamer pattern, which I and several of our club members use for catching stocked trout, as well as steelhead, during the winter months. The pattern is commonly called an egg-sucking leech.

Closely resembling a standard woolly bugger, the bright colored yarn or bead tied in at the front of the fly seems to enhance the fish’s interest in the fly (see note below, regarding the use of flies with egg heads). Materials and instructions for tying my version of the egg-sucking leech will be provided to all who sign up for the January session.

From my internet search: Egg Sucking Leech a Deeper Look at a Controversial Fly – “Contrary to popular belief, flies with egg heads have been around for close to 200 years. This makes it difficult to validate arguments that we shouldn’t fish egg-suckers because they’re not traditional. Flies like the Dallas, Toppy, and Beauly Snow flies were finished with tufts (technically termed ruffs) of red, orange, yellow and green mohair — essentially turning beautiful classic flies into really expensive, time-consuming egg-suckers. Even leech flies have been tied as early as the 1700s, with The Horse Leech Fly from Brookes’ ‘Art of Angling’ mentioned in 1740. Classic fly tyer, Dave Carne adds that it’s important to note that most of the bright-head flies were primarily used as spring patterns.” 

Egg-Sucking Leech

Step-by-Step Instructions for Tying an Egg-Sucking-Leech

The basic egg sucking leech fly pattern is tied/constructed in much the same manner (steps) as in tying a standard Woolly Bugger, with the representation of an egg immediately behind the hook eye. While an internet review for tying the Egg Sucking Leech reveals multiple tying approaches, the following steps are those which I use.

  • Focus of tying the egg sucking leech for the Beginner’s class

The focus of this tying session is several fold.

  1. To reinforce an understanding of the steps used in construction of most streamer fly patterns.
  2. To learn methods for introducing new materials to the basic fly which may enhance the fish’ interest in the “fly” as well as its simulation of a live invertebrate food form.
  • Materials
    • Hook – 4x long standard streamer
    • Thread – 3x or 6x color to match abdomen of the fly (e.g. black, olive). An alternate color can also be used which blends more closely with the color of the material representing the egg (e.g. orange, red, etc.)
    • Tail – marabou plume (black) with 3-5 strands of flashabou
    • Abdomen –saddle hackle and chenille (black)
    • Head – (options) polyyarn, polar chenille, egg yarn, etc.
    • Lead free wrap diameter to match the hook shank (i.e. 0.035 mm)
  • Tying Steps
    • After pinching down the hook barb insert hook in vise.
    • Choose a section of lead free wire approximately 1 ½” long and begin to wrap the wire around the hook shank starting slightly rear of mid-shank, and then wrap the wire forward stopping approximately ¼” behind the hook eye to allow room for later application of the ‘egg’ material.
    • Start making thread wraps immediately behind the hook eye proceeding to the rear of the fly securing the lead in place both behind and in front of the lead wrap. After which advance thread wraps to the bend of the hook.
    • Choose 1 “fluffy” marabou plume and measure the length of the plume to be no more than the hook shank length. (Thread bobbin should be hanging at the hook bend). Secure the marabou at the hook bend and then make thread wraps forward over the butt end of the marabou toward the eye. (Advance the thread wraps almost to the forward end of the lead wrap before clipping off the additional marabou facing forward).
    • Return thread wraps (almost) to the bend of the hook. Then fold ~ 3 strands of flashabou around the thread and while holding the flashabou in the left hand and the thread bobbin in the right, slide the flashabou up the thread such that it lies on the side of the marabou tail facing the tier. Make several wraps of thread to the rear over the flashabou, and several wraps of thread forward. Repeat this process for applying flashabou strands on the opposite side of the marabou tail.
    • Trim off any excess flashabou material which extends beyond the marabou tail.
    • Strip the tip off a 3” piece of chenille and fasten the stripped end of the chenille with several (~3) thread wraps, immediately forward of where the flashabou strands were tied in. (Do not advance the tying thread forward in tying in the chenille tip).  Let the chenille strand hang to the rear of the fly.
    • Choose a single saddle hackle feather, hold it by the tip of the feather and flare it prior to tying in. Tie the feather in by the tip immediately forward of where the chenille was tied in. Let the butt end of the feather also lie to the rear of the hook.
    • Make thread wraps forward over the hook shank stopping ~1/4” behind the thread wraps (this should coincide with where the lead wraps were stopped).
    • Make one wrap of the chenille immediately behind where the feather is tied in and then wrap the remainder of the chenille forward (in front of the feather), stopping where the thread is now hanging. Secure the chenille with several thread wraps behind and in front of the loose section of chenille and cut off excess.
    • Using hackle pliers to hold the butt end of the feather, wrap the hackle feather forward around the shank of the hook (being careful not to twist the feather in the process). Secure the hackle feather at the same location where the chenille was stopped with several thread wraps behind and in front of the remaining section of hackle. Cut off the excess feather. (Suggest that the thread wraps be secured with 2-3 half-hitches before proceeding to apply the egg material. This also provides a means to change color of the tying threads for securing another thread which closely mimics the color of the egg material.)
    •  In the remaining section of the hook shank which is still exposed; with the tying thread secure whichever material will be used to represent the egg with several thread wraps and advance the tying thread forward stopping several thread wraps behind the hook eye.
    • Wrap the egg material (e.g. polyyarn, chenille) to build up a spherical shaped head on the fly. Then make one additional wrap of egg material slightly over where the thread is hanging. Then secure the material with several thread wraps immediately behind the hook eye. Cut thread and apply a minimal amount of head cement to the final thread wraps.

Note: Alternate procedure for creating the egg- Step 13 can also be performed using egg yarn, instead of chenille/polyyarn as was done in previous tying lesson where the class tied a salmon egg representation).