Tarantula Egg-Sucking Leech

img_3740Standing ankle deep in one of my favorite late-fall fishing holes, I stared into a mess of a fly box – similar to how one stares at a nearly empty kitchen cupboard looking for a late night snack. On short trips to the river, I carry just one fly box with a variety of flies – mostly trout flies but a few salmon patterns thrown in just in case. Freshly tied flies at the beginning of the season are now flat, matted, and missing a few of their original elements. I’ve fished five different flies without a single strike and was about to call it a day.

One fly stood out among a sea of black, olive, and brown rabbit strips – a white egg-sucking leech (ESL). It’s been sitting in the box all year and is in mint condition. ESL’s are not my go-to fly, but they are known to catch any and all species. I tied it on hoping a trout or grayling will be fooled into thinking it looks like a chunk of flesh drifting in the current. 

It proved to be just what the trout were looking for. While I was happy to finally hook up and save myself from the disappointment of walking away skunked, I was even more pleased about the lesson I learned – that the classics are classics for a reason.

Version 3

There are many versions of the egg-sucking leech. The Tarantula ESL is one to consider adding to your box if you’re look for flesh/egg pattern using materials other than rabbit strips.


Hook: TMC 5262, size 4
Head: Cone head, 3/16, orange
Underbody: Lead wire, size .025
Thread: White
Tail: White blood quill marabou, pearl Krystal Flash
Hackle: EP Tarantula Hairy Legs Brush, 1”, white
Body: Chenille – large, white

Tying Notes

Wetting the marabou feather makes it much easier to work with.
For a sparser version of this fly, trim one side of the Tarantula Hairy legs before tying it in.

Check out this step-by-step for the super easy (and fishy) Bunny ESL.

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