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Leeches, Lures, Or Streamers?


milelongleblanc
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I've been thinking about this for a while. Maybe just my opinion, but most leech patterns don't look much like leeches. They're attractors, flashy, pulsating, bright coloured. In England they call such flies lures, and they have many that look just like our leech patterns. Then there's the Woolly Bugger, usually described as a leech, but I (and some others) call it a streamer.

 

johnk just posted his new creation, the "Sheridan Leech". He can call that fly whatever he wants, but what do you think? Should patterns like that be called leeches, lures, or streamers?

 

Rick

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Given the wide range of sizes, colors, shape, action and behavior of leeches, I think we can still call them leech patterns, as they are intended to simulate or represent real live leeches.

As far as a general classification is concerned, I'd place most leech patterns in the broad category of streamers which would include patterns for sculpins, minnows, needlefish, herring and some variations of damsel and dragonflies.

To me, streamers are larger wet fly patterns that have material that extends past the hook bend and are intended to immitate a swimming or active, drifting prey.

Fly fishing "lures" in my mind are not intended to represent any real living thing and tend to be artificial in nature. Attractor patterns would fall into that category as would patterns intended to induce "territorial" strikes. For purists, I suppose "lures" are the things you attach to bait or spin casting rods and are made of wood, metal or plastic.

You could include some patterns in more than one category. You could have an attractor pattern that doesn't represent real prey, but has material that extends past the hook bend and has an action that makes it look alive. That could be called both a lure and a streamer.

See how neatly I straddled the fence?

 

So would you classify a "pellet" fly as a lure or a dry fly? And how would you classify an egg pattern? Artificial bait?

Edited by dave robinson
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I call them EFFECTIVE!

 

I rarely use leeches but when I do I have had good success with them, most litrature I have read which is not much refer to them as streamers.

 

Question? is a #2 Marabou Muddler with so much deer hair on it that it floats considerd a dry fly? If so I actually used a dry fly 2 years ago :whootwhoo:<_<

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I've been thinking about this for a while. Maybe just my opinion, but most leech patterns don't look much like leeches. They're attractors, flashy, pulsating, bright coloured. In England they call such flies lures, and they have many that look just like our leech patterns. Then there's the Woolly Bugger, usually described as a leech, but I (and some others) call it a streamer.

 

johnk just posted his new creation, the "Sheridan Leech". He can call that fly whatever he wants, but what do you think? Should patterns like that be called leeches, lures, or streamers?

 

Rick

Actually the first time I ran that maroon rainbow leech through the water that is exactly what I thought.......LURE! Call it what you will, as long as it lures the fish! :fish_jump:

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I just think that we're in a unique position. From what I can tell from the literature, the northwest portion of North America has cornered the market on leech patterns. Most parts of the world don't have much of a stillwater scene, and amongst the few of those, most, like Britain and New Zealand, don't really use leeches (according to the GB and NZ mags I subscribe to).

 

The catalogue of leech patterns is so varied that to my mind the word "leech" is taking on new meaning when it comes to flies. I was thinking it might be fun to recognize this by coming up with a new name for what I feel is a new class of flies.

 

Rick

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Most parts of the world don't have much of a stillwater scene, and amongst the few of those, most, like Britain and New Zealand, don't really use leeches (according to the GB and NZ mags I subscribe to).

Rick

Not sure about the quality of your NZ info, but they definitely use "leechlike" patterns in Kiwiland.

Wooley buggers of various types are heavily used in the Rotorua area lakes, and the Waikato hydo reservoirs and tailwaters. They are typically a bit smaller than the Bow River Bugger but there are some that are pretty big. They also use a "killer" pattern in Lake Rotorua that looks and is fished a lot like a leech. In Taupo area they use more anchovie or smelt patterns for the lake, but large Wooly Buggers are commonly used in the Tongariro River. I helped the Hamilton Anglers with the fly tying course while living there and WBs were definitely on the cirriculum.

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I certainly wouldn't try to dispute first-hand knowledge, Dave, but it's not like they don't use any leeches in Britain, either. I just meant that it's risen to a new level around here. Besides, as Vince pointed out to me the other day, a Woolly Bugger is not a leech pattern. I'm not sure why you mention the anchovies and smelts, but if you throw any leech pattern in a river, can you really say you're imitating a leech? By all means, educate me, but I don't think I've seen too many leeches in rivers, and if the lifeform isn't present, you're not really imitating it, are you?

 

Rick

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I thought you might find this interesting. Sometimes even the authorities on flyfishing get it wrong! Following is an excerpt from Roderick Haig-Brown located in his 1939 book, The Western Angler:

 

"In Paul Lake, though they represent 20% of the bottom fauna, they only represent 7% of the food of the trout from May to August. It is possible that this is because they hide under rocks and stones and so are not readily available. It is hardly likely that it would be profitable to imitate them...."

 

I have a couple friends from England that I've fished with there and they've fished with me when I was at Tunkwa Lake. The do use woolly buggers there but swear up and down that the fish are taking them for damsels. The Dognobbler is an attractor pattern and looks like a leech above all other possibilities but they don't really tie patterns to imitate leeches. A friend of mine, Michael Neale, is a member of an organization called The FlyDresser's Guild and they put out a monthly supplement and in the past five years they've had one leech pattern featured but if you go take your leech patterns because they sure do work there!

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Rick just thought I would step in a little bit just to mention that leeches do live in streams If you google leech habitat it will confirm that leeches will live in fresh water streams & rivers. Sorry.

 

Interesting topic guy I might wade in when I got a little more time.

 

Dennis S :fishing::fish_jump:

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Rick :

I mentioned freshwater smelt because in Lakes Taupo and Rotorua they are the food source that produces the large rainbows and browns there. Smelt patterns are predominantly used in lake Taupo, but wooly buggers in dark colors and large sizes are used quite a bit in lakes like Rotoiti, Rotoroa, Rotoma, Hawera,Tarawera and the Rangeteiki drainage. Some of the large lakes on the south Island also see their share of WBs.

As to whether or not a WB is a leech pattern, that again is one of those classification things that can spawn long debate, kind like whether or not Pluto is a planet. To paraphrse one of astronomers in that debate: "I may not be able to precisely define what a leech pattern is, but I shure knows one when I sees one." Some WBs look exactly like leeches. Some don't. So, leech or streamer? Take your pick.

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Dennis, I know what the books say, but I don't think I've ever seen a leech in a river. Have you?

 

Conversely, traditional wisdom says you only find scuds in lakes and some spring creeks, but I've found some almost everywhere I've looked.

 

Dave, don't get me wrong, most of us have used a WB as a leech, to great effect. But if I use a large EHC to imitate small hoppers, that doesn't change the fact that it is a caddis pattern. Also, the only fly you mention the kiwi's using is the WB. Unless you can add extensively to that list, you're kind of confirming the spirit, if not the letter, of my argument, which is that we do leech flies like no-one else. How many leeches has Phil Rowley created? Now what about Brian Chan, Denny Rickards, and Gary Borger? That's only four guys, and quite a few different patterns.

 

Rick

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Lessee...Kiwi Leech-like patterns

Green and Black Fuzzy Wuzzys, Green and Black Dappled Dogs, Craig's Nighttime, Scotch Poacher, Taihape Tickler, Black Phantom, Coch-a-Bonddu, Hammil's Killer and any number of Pukeko patterns.

Like many fly patterns, they all resemble a variety of trout foods. Are they specifically fished to imitate leeches? I don't know as I don't know the prevalence of actual leeches in New Zealand waters. I'll e-mail my buddies Derek Burtehshaw and John Pellew to ask. However, most of them bear an uncanny resemblance to the real leeches we see here and the leech patterns we use. Kiwis typically fish them in the same fashion as we fish leech patterns. I've tried a few of them here with modest success. So do our leech patterns deserve a separate classification? The Kiwis classify most of them as "lures", as opposed to smelt patterns, although some of them are easily modified to look like smelt. I dislike the term "lures" as it implies the stuff a hardware fisherman uses. Since they are not insects or minnows or small fish, I suppose you could put them in the general category of "bait" patterns along with patterns that look like worms, eggs, flesh, bread, corm and pellets. But hten how would you classify mouse patterns/

Dave

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An update on Kiwi Leeches

http://www.waitakere.govt.nz/AbtCit/ei/Eco...sp#glossiphonia

or for a more technical read

http://rsnz.natlib.govt.nz/volume/rsnz_77/..._05_010320.html

The NIWA article here counts 11 species

www.niwa.cri.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/43266/leeches.pdf

So it is clear there are leeches in New Zealand.

Are they an important fly to kiwi anglers? I'll ask Derek and John.

Dave

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One thing I'll say for you, Dave, discussions and even disagreements are always informative. It pleases me to learn that the kiwis use a name other than "leeches", but I agree with you; I'm not fond of "lures".

 

I've called mouse patterns two names before, both of which are inaccurate;

1. Pike fly- but of course, other people use them for other species.

2. Dry fly- I just love saying,"I caught a 15 pound pike on a dry fly!"

 

Rick

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I suppose you could call a mouse a "terrestrial" pattern. After all they are ground dwelling critters.

Which brings up other issues such as how do you classify a frog pattern.... Amphibian?

Since we saw a pike with a duck in its gullet, we could develop a duck pattern that could be classified as "waterfoul".

 

I noticed in the NIWA article that some of the Kiwi leeches are non-aquatic.

So patterns for them could be classified as "leeches" "streamers" "attractors" "terrestrials" and if they floated as "drys".

 

All this goes to show that pigeon-holing fly patterns isn't an exact science.

And even if it were, there'd still be debates amogst the "scientists".

Just like the ongoing debate(over 2years old now) of exactly what to classify Pluto as.

 

What is interesting about that debate is that the current definition is based on a sample of 1, and if you striclty apply the definition as currently written, even the Earth is not a planet. That's what happens when the people writing the definition have a partuicular axe to grind and wait until all the opposition goes home bored before putting it to a vote.

Edited by dave robinson
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Interesting discussion. It's probably a lot about semantics. I do know that I've referred to some patterns as "leech patterns" because they look like leeches when they are wet and being retrieved. And I know fish often like them! :)

 

I was fishing with a friend once, and we often tease each other. He was fishing midges. I was fishing a leech pattern. He was teasing me that "lure fly fishing is dirty." He was getting hits to his flies.. but few solid hook ups. Me? I was getting vicious strikes and boated about five before had one. Every time I'd feel a fish on, I'd exclaim, "It sure is fun being dirty!" :)

 

I might be a dry fly purist myself if I could fish where there were always dry fly hatches going on and the fish were rising to them. But that's not the case, so I adapt.

 

Ever notice that lakes and rivers seem to not have too many dew worms yet fish seem to love them? Sometimes, I think that although a fly pattern is meant to imitate something that the human fly tyer has in his mind, to the fish, there's just something that says "eat me" in the fly. Who knows what the fish really thinks it is supposed to be imitating?

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I agree with you on general principle, Ian, no-one really knows what the fish think. But with worms, I think the fish take them for lumbriculids, which are a very widespread family of aquatic worms. I'm convinced that's why the San Juan Worm is so effective.

 

Rick

Perhaps, but in reality, big juicy dew worms don't look like lumbriculids exactly. So again, to me, it's more about something about the look or appearance or something about it sensually to the fish that says "eat me. I'm ok to eat. I'm good to eat. Even if I'm not exactly like what you have seen before."

 

I've never caught a fish on a san juan worm. But then I was never confident fishing them either. On the other hand, the fist time I fished chironomids, I wasn't confident.. and heck was I surprised when a fish took a skinny pattern tied with French Oval copper tinsel, and that was almost all there was .. just tinsel.

 

Then I gained confidence.. and caught more fish with it!

 

In rivers and lakes.. and we're told often that chironomids are more effective in lakes. Who knows?? :)

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Brian, I don't understand the confusion, they're a family of aquatic annelids in the order Oligochaeta. Everyone knows that...right?

 

All the ones I've seen(in real life), which is perhaps a hundred, looked for all the world like a two to three inch earthworm, in varying shades of red, pink, brown and tan, but most were just that pinkish/tan worm colour. They're typically only seen dead-drifting after being dislodged from flood waters and heavy rains.

 

Seriously, I'll bring my copy of "Aquatic Invertebrates of Alberta" to the club sometime. Drink lots of coffee first, and it might not put you to sleep. Lots of interesting facts; take a wild guess how many mayfly species have been recorded in Alberta. Over 120! I kind of chuckle when all people ever talk about is Green Drakes, PMD's, BWO's, and to a much lesser extent, Trico's and Callibaetis. And that's nothing compared to stoneflies; 430 species in Alberta! There's so many caddisflies they don't even try to classify to species(15 families).

 

Rick

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Brian,

It's Ian, by the way. Adding a "Br" is kinda like changing lumbriculids to Lumbricids ;) Part of my point in a way.

 

I don't understand the confusion, they're a family of aquatic annelids in the order Oligochaeta. Everyone knows that...right?

No... not everyone knows that. But then, some scientists decided to reclassify Pluto recently. It's no longer a planet. But that's not my point, and I'm not up on Latin. I wish I was, but they didn't offer it back in high school. And sadly, I just have some College in Law Enforcement - no Biology - so most of the Latin I do know has to do with court rooms. But I can observe and report! :)

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All the ones I've seen(in real life), which is perhaps a hundred, looked for all the world like a two to three inch earthworm, in varying shades of red, pink, brown and tan, but most were just that pinkish/tan worm colour. They're typically only seen dead-drifting after being dislodged from flood waters and heavy rains.

Ok... I've seen some aquatic worms - Lumbriculids I think.. but don't know for sure. They were similar in some way to big juicy Dew Earthworms, but not as long and not as thick. But similar, yes.

 

Seriously, I'll bring my copy of "Aquatic Invertebrates of Alberta" to the club sometime. Drink lots of coffee first, and it might not put you to sleep. Lots of interesting facts; take a wild guess how many mayfly species have been recorded in Alberta. Over 120! I kind of chuckle when all people ever talk about is Green Drakes, PMD's, BWO's, and to a much lesser extent, Trico's and Callibaetis. And that's nothing compared to stoneflies; 430 species in Alberta! There's so many caddisflies they don't even try to classify to species(15 families).

That would be great! I presently reside in Orangeville ON, but am looking at relocating to the Edmonton area as I'm there so often. Let me know when the meetings are! I'm planning on arriving the 8th of November and will be there until the 17th, but visiting in Whitecourt. If it's possible, maybe I can make a trip back down to Edmonton during that time. I also would love to meet up with some of "The Castaways."

 

I'll bring the coffee, you bring the book. And I'll bring some flies along that have caught fish, and we can try to figure out what the FISH thought they were eating when they hooked themselves. I was playing around one day, when my Maltese dog needed a bit of trim. He has very white fine hair. I like fun.. and I thought it would be fun to use my dog's hair.. and tied up this ridiculous thing, with a red bead, lots of red thead, and the dog's hair, streamer style. That thing catches me fish. In lakes. And rivers. Brown Trout. Bass. Rainbow trout. Ontario. Alberta. What do the fish think when they go for it? I don't know.

 

I've seen guys catch fish on "Booby" flies. What they heck do they imitate? I have no clue.

 

A few years ago, I was standing on a bridge with a guy, over the Grand River. The guy flicked his cigarette but into the river... and a trout rose to it. What was that all about? I don't know.

 

My point being that as humans, we want to have words to classify things, and try to figure out what something might represent - but there could be other factors going on that we haven't thought about. Like... "Hey, that looks tasty... or... that looks like it would provide sustenance... or.... I want to kill that thing... let's try it."

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