Balanced Leeches are becoming more and more popular amongst the ranks of stillwater fly fishers and account for lots of nice trout throughout the lake season. They offer several advantages over other more traditional leech patterns, and while the old standbys are far from obsolete, the benefits of "balanced fishing" are worth considering.
First off, Balanced Leeches orient horizontally in the water column, in line with the profile of a natural leech. Many other leech patterns have a tendency to sink butt first and ride vertically on a slow retrieve. Swimming the Balanced Leech under a strike indicator lets you fish the fly very slowly, or even static at a uniform depth without the fly settling on the bottom or getting hung up in the weeds. I'll often fish two flies where legal and hang a Balanced Leech below a chironomid pupa pattern to cover more of the water column. I recommend avoiding fishing a dropper pattern below a balanced fly as this will essentially unbalance it and orient it more vertically.
Once you learn how to tie the chassis for the Balanced Leech, you can really go wild in creating balanced versions of your favorite leech patterns. A balanced Pumpkin Head is one of my favorites! We get a lot of questions on how to tie this fly and while we take no credit in its development as a pattern, we thought it'd be nice to offer another tutorial for our customers, especially with our spring lake season just a few months on the horizon. Now's a great time to fill your boxes and get ready for Spring. We fish this one a lot!
Black & Blue Balanced Leech Recipe:
Hook: #12 Daiichi 4640
Bead: 7/64" Black Nickel Tungsten Bead
Balancing Extension: Straight Pin
Thread: Black 70 Denier Ultra Thread
Tail: Black Rabbit
Flash: 2 Strands Electric Blue Flashabou
Body: Midnight Senyo's Fusion Dub in Red Ultra Wire Dubbing Loop
Confluence Beer Pairing: This month's beer of the month is Bale Breaker's Dormancy Breakfast Stout. Once upon a time I'd venture out in any conditions for a shot at catching a fish. These days, when the wind is blowing 30 mph, sheets of rain fall sideways and the power flickers on and off, I relish the occasional day off tying flies by the comfort of a warm fire and filling a box to get ready for a more stable weather day on the water. Coffee's always a great way to start the day, sometimes a beer's not bad either. Dormancy is a dark, chocolaty malt conditioned on locally roasted coffee beans, ultimately combining the best of both worlds to kickstart a lazy day of tying flies.