Sunday, August 1, 2021

Skunk Leech
By Christian Bilodeau

The Skunk Leech is a slightly different take on the classic Green Butt Skunk, which was made popular by steelheaders in the Pacific Northwest. This fly is best fished on a sink-tip line in a traditional down-and-across swing. I always let this fly “dangle” a little longer at the end of my swing, as the soft materials it’s made of offer an enticing swimming action, even in a slight current. The Skunk Leech’s large profile and contrasting colors make it especially effective in higher, slightly stained water.

MATERIALS

HOOK: Partridge single salmon #2/0
EYES: Lead Eyes, white 1/24oz
THREAD: Uni thread black 6/0
TAIL: Red marabou
RIB: Silver mylar
BODY: Chartreuse Ice Dub/black Hareline Dubbin
COLLAR: Black hackle
THROAT: Black marabou
WING: White rabbit zonker
FLASH: Extra limp Flashabou holographic black

Step 1: Start with the hook right-side up in your vise. The fly will fish hook-point up, but the majority of the fly is easier to tie in this manner.

Step 2: Start your thread just before the bend in the hook and work forward, closing the return eye.

Step 3: Using a figure-eight pattern, tie in the lead eyes at the rear of the return eye. Make a few tight wraps around the base of the eyes to secure them in place.

Step 4: Select a full red marabou feather and pinch all the ends together by running your fingers up the stem.

Step 5: Tie in the marabou on top of the hook-shank, just before the bend, to create a tail about ¾” long.

Step 6: Cut off the excess at an angle tapered forward.

Step 7: Using wide thread wraps , lash the rest of the marabou to the shank to create a tapered body.

Step 8: Tie in a strand of silver mylar for the rib.

Step 9: Dub the body halfway forward with chartreuse Ice Dub.

Step 10: Wrap the mylar forward in evenly spaced turns—3 to 4 wraps—and trim away the tag.

Step 11: Tie in a black saddle hackle feather by the tip—try to find one with shortish, softer barbs.

Step 12: Wrap the hackle 6 to 8 times, keeping your wraps as close together as possible without overlapping.

Step 13: Tie in another piece of silver mylar for the second rib.

Step 14: Dub the rest of the shank with black Hareline Dubbing up to the eyes.

Step 15: Wrap the mylar forward in the same fashion as the first rib.

Step 16: Select another hackle feather similar to the first and tie it in by the tip, just behind the eyes.

Step 17: Again, make 6 to 8 close wraps with the hackle, just behind the eyes.

Step 18: Use a small amount of black dubbing, and dub around the eyes in a figure-eight to clean up the head.

Step 19: Turn the hook upside down in the vise.

Step 20: Select a fairly sparse black marabou feather and pinch the tips together.

Step 21: Tie the feather in on top of the shank so that the tips reach just past the hook point.

Step 22: Cut the end of a white zonker strip into a V. This creates a more natural taper to the tail.

Step 23: Pierce the point of the hook through the zonker strip about ½” from the V-cut in the end.

Step 24: Lay the zonker strip over top of the fly and tie it in just behind the eye of the hook. Don’t stretch the zonker strip too tight or it will be more likely to rip off the hook.

Step 25: Cut off the excess zonker strip and make a few more tight wraps to secure it.

Step 26: Tie in a full strand of black Flashabou on either side of the fly so they roughly line up with the tail.

Step 27: Double the strands over, creating a loop ahead of the fly, and tie the opposite end in. Same length only slightly higher on the sides of the fly.

Step 28: Cut the loops formed in the Flashabou and fold the ends back over the top of the fly. This creates 8 total strands of flash on the fly.

Step 29: Be sure to secure the Flashabou with a few tight wraps before cleaning up the head and whip finishing.