Beadhead Beaver Leech

Beadhead Beaver Leech

- By Bob Sheedy, from Bob Sheedy's Top 50 Fly Pattern book

This is one pattern that you do not always want to tie in the smooth textbook style that professionals can render into any fly. When using the pattern to emulate cased caddis, one would do well to leave guard hairs intact, sticking out at all angles and the body as cobbly as some naturals. On the other hand, when emulating crane flies, which the pattern does well, pick out the guard hairs and introduce segmentation with some wraps of silver wire.

But didn’t we just call this creation a leech? Yes, we did, but our greatest successes have come when representing species other than the original’s intent, and that’s why I included it in my top fifty picks.

I once fished Saskatchewan’s Lady Lake when summer doldrums had seized anything smaller than the tiny tiger tout implants pressing minnows against the coontail edges. Nothing moved, but sonar persistently revealed occasional passing fish on the bottom in 22 feet of water. After lowering a Beaver Leech and moving it around areas of specific activity, it dawned on me that springs in the lake basin had laid a colder layer of oxygenated water along the bottom, where the trout took cased caddis in a comfortable environment. The first and second 20-inch+ denizen confirmed my hypothesis. The trip went from a dog-day blowout to a technical success and gave me new perspective on the strange leech pattern.

A few years later the Beaver Leech was still the fly of choice when approaching Lady. Now we add a bead head, weight it appropriately, and twist it along the bottom in its inverted position—as a cased caddis. But it also becomes crane fly larvae simply by picking guard hairs and segmentation.

Or, if one so chooses, one can use it to represent a leech!

I have found that the addition of Blu Lite-Brite creates additional sparkle that triggers more strikes when using "mud-sucking" techniques along the bottom.


Type Notes


Black 3/0 Monocord (or your choice)


Gold 5/32" for #8 hooks and 1/8" for #10 hooks


Beaver Fur Dubbing with Guard Hairs Left in Mix. (When emulating crane flies pick guard hairs out)


Fine Gold Wire. Use Deeper Segmentation and Silver Wire when Emulating Crane Flies


A Few Turns of Dark Brown or Black Saddle Hackle


Type Notes


Tie on tail, usually black bear hair or a short clump of black marabou.


If the fly is to emulate a cased caddis, doing a handstand along bottom, use a gold bead head and add lead weight to back of hook shank which will make it stand on its head.


Make a tapered and very full dubbing rope of beaver fur, with guard hairs intact (depending on insect emulation desired). Tie on and wind ahead.


Add a few turns of dark brown or black hackle and sweep it slightly back if a leech or crane fly. Sweep less for a caddis.