How to Tie the DDH Leech

Producer: tightlinevideo

Yet again, our good friends at The New Fly Fisher have turned me on to a really cool fly pattern they did very well with fishing for smallmouth bass in Algoma Country in Ontario. It’s called the DDH Leech and it was developed by Stu Thompson from Manitoba. I’m going to apologize right now to Stu for taking some liberties with the materials I used for his pattern, particularly the dubbing blend for the body. I would urge you all to pursue information regarding the materials he originally used. Apparently Algoma smallmouth can’t get enough of the DDH Leech, but I’ve found it works great in many other areas and for other fish species as well.

So, this is my version of a DDH Leech. Like I said, it’s pretty close to Stu’s original pattern with the exception of the dubbing used to form the body. Stu also uses a Daichi 2151 hook, which has been discontinued and is very hard to find. I’ve replaced the hook with an also discontinued hook, a Dai-Riki #899 heavy wire salmon/steelhead hook in size 6, but honestly, any standard salmon hook in about this size should work. Make sure the hook is very well secured in the jaws of your tying vise, as a good bit of thread tension really adds to the durability of this pattern.

For thread, I’ve loaded a bobbin with a spool of UTC 140 in black and cranked up the thread tension quite a bit. Get the thread started on the hook shank, at about the midpoint of the eye return, and take wraps rearward, over the end of the return then snip the excess tag off close. Bring your thread back up the slope of the return until it rests just on the flat area of it.

Snip one two-eye-length segment of medium-sized gold bead chain eyes free from the rest. Lay the eyes diagonally across the top of the hook shank, at the location of your tying thread, and begin taking cross wraps to secure them. The flat area, made by the eye return, should hold the eyes flat on top of the hook shank. This is the real reason for using a salmon hook.

After the cross wraps, begin making yoke wraps, which go over top of the eyes on either side of the fly, but under the hook shank. You kind of want to do a mini side-to-side tug-of-war. Follow these yoke wraps with flat circular wraps that go beneath the eyes but over top of the hook shank. This will draw all the previous wraps in tight to further anchor the eyes to the top of the hook shank. If you want, now would be a good time to add a drop of super glue to all these wraps, but I really haven’t found it necessary.

Olive marabou is used for the tail of the fly. I prefer the Woolly Bugger type but whatever you have on hand should be ok. Strip the lower fibers from two feathers, leaving about 2” of fibers on each. You really don’t want to be tying in the super thick part of the stem. Place one feather on top of the other, with their concave sides facing and their tips aligned. While maintaining your grip on the feathers, measure to form a tail about a full hook in length. I use the back edge of a bump on my tying vise as a reference point.

Begin binding the feathers to the top of the hook shank with really tight wraps of tying thread. Pull up and slightly toward you on the feathers as you do this, so they land as on top of the hook shank as possible. Go all the way back until your thread hangs at the hook point, then return it back up the shank to about halfway between the point and the bead chain eyes. Pull back on the bare feather stems and snip them off close behind the eyes, then wrap forward to bind them down. Once again, end with your tying thread halfway between the point and the eyes. I like bugger marabou because the fine, fluffy stuff goes most of the way out to the fiber tips.

My choice for body material is Arizona Simi Seal dubbing. It’s pretty much my go-to for any leech-type pattern. The color I’m using here is olive and this is just the regular Simi Seal, not the Mega, although the Mega is fine too. Arizona Simi Seal can be a bit hard to find but you can purchase it directly from the distributor. To me, there’s something just magical about this stuff. Its texture, mix of colors, a little bit of flash and some translucency are right on the money.

The next step is to get yourself a big old book, one with some thickness to it. If it’s about fly fishing, so much the better. Begin plucking small slips of the dubbing from the packet and placing them next to each other along the edge of the book. 5 or 6 slips totaling about 4” in length should be plenty. Lay a straight edge down on the midpoints of the slips, then push that midpoint to the edge of the book.

Get hold of a long chip clip, like this one, and use the clip to grip the slips at the edge of the book. You can then set the clip aside within easy reach. You’re going to have your hands full for the next couple of steps so have scissors, a dubbing whirl, plunger-style hackle pliers and a dubbing needle within easy reach as well.

Pull down on your bobbin to expose about 6” of tying thread and place your middle finger on the thread to double it over into a dubbing loop. Then anchor the loop on the hook shank. Using your middle finger will allow you to close and open the loop with the thumb and index finger of your left hand. Pick up the chip clip and insert the dubbing slips into the loop. Go right up to the edge of the chip clip then release it. The dubbing slips should be evenly distributed on either side of the dubbing loop.

Now pick up the dubbing whirl and hook it in the bottom of the dubbing loop. While pinching the loop, give the whirl a clockwise spin as if you’re looking down on it. This will twist the dubbing into a fuzzy little rope, with some fibers trapped in close to the thread. To free these trapped fibers, get hold of a stout dubbing needle and begin plucking the trapped fibers out, like so. You don’t have to get them all, just make the noodle a bit fluffier.

Although not essential, I like to use plunger-style hackle pliers at this point. I’ll loop the bare thread part of the dubbing loop around the hook of the pliers several times then close them, so the thread can’t slip through. I’ll then pick up my tying scissors and use them to snip the whirl free. I find it easier to wrap with the pliers, rather than the whirl.

Take rearward wraps of tying thread back to the base of the tail then forward to in front of the bead chain eyes. Wet your fingertips and preen the dubbing to one side. Start taking wraps with the dubbing noodle, sweeping the fibers rearward as you go. When you reach the eyes, take a diagonal wrap over top of them, then go back behind the eyes and take a wrap on the opposite diagonal. The idea is to end with the bare thread part of the dubbing noodle in front of the eyes, where it can be anchored with tight wraps of tying thread and snipped off nice and close.

Preen any forward-pointing fibers back and out of the way of the hook eye, then take thread wraps to hold the fibers back and to build up a neat little head on the fly. Get hold of your whip finish tool and use it to do a 5 or 6 turn, back to front whip finish, seat the knot well and snip or cut your tying thread free. Using a dubbing brush, brush the dubbing out and rearward to both fluff and streamline the body of the fly. Then trim off any truly wayward fibers. A drop of head cement, here Sally Hansen Hard as Nails, applied to the exposed thread wraps at the head of the fly, will neaten them up and ensure they don’t come unraveled.

And that’s my version of Stu Thompson’s DDH Leech. It’s really an incredible and versatile fly pattern that, in the end, is relatively easy to tie. By using different combinations of marabou and dubbing, you can create a whole slew of different colored DDH Leeches. These are just a few of my favorites .

For salmon and steelhead, I replace the bead chain eyes with a large bright orange bead to create what is basically an egg-sucking leech. Swinging these bad boys with two-handed gear is a ton of fun as well as productive. I use a non-slip loop knot to tie on all versions of the DDH Leech to allow them to move freely underwater. I just love this fly’s overall appearance and action as it’s either swung downstream and across, or stripped in. Thank you to both The New Fly Fisher and Stu Thompson for this terrific fly pattern.