Steelhead streamer: The Grapefruithead Leech

The Grapefruithead Leech is the creation of steelhead guide Kevin Feenstra out of Michigan. I first saw this pattern a couple years ago in John Nagy’s Steelhead Guide. I remember thinking it was a horrible fly. You know, over-the-top, unapologetic, in-your-face, clearly inspired by the egg-sucking leech. I was thumbing through the book this past fall, looking for some ideas, and there it was again. Over the next few weeks, I kept coming back to it. It was kind of like drinking a new bottle of wine that you’re not sure you like; as you’re trying to decide, you realize the bottle’s nearly empty. So I tied some up for my November 2013 trip. Wouldn’t you know, I caught my first steelhead on the swing on this horrible, beautiful, wonderful fly. Feenstra says he likes this pattern whenever there’s snow on the ground. I can tell you that steelhead also like it near dusk on a snowless day, dangling in the current near the tailout of a shallow run.

The Grapefruithead Leech

Image

Hook: Daiichi 2461 or 3XL streamer hook, size 4-2/0
Tail: Black Marabou with sparse red flash
Body: Black marabou, palmered
Overbody:  Black or purple schlappen, palmered
Collar: Mallard flank, one turn
Flash: Green, silver, and blue flashabou
Head: Large fuchsia cactus chenille with a veil of chartreuse ice dub
~
Tying Notes: This fly looks huge out of the water; however, the lion’s share of the bulk comes from soft-hackled feathers, so it will slim down dramatically when wet. Before you tie the body, remember to leave enough space for the head. I left a good 1/3 of the shank. To make the body, first tie in a large blood marabou quill by the tip, and a schlappen feather by the tip. Palmer the marabou up the shank; leave enough space between wraps so that a single feather covers the shank. Be sure all the marabou fibers are floating freely. Wrapping the schlappen is the hardest part of tying the fly; take care to mat down as few of the marabou fibers as possible. I used a swaying, back-and-forth motion with the feather as I wrapped, and a bodkin to pick out the marabou when necessary. This fly has way more flash than I typically use in my ties, but subtlety not being its strong point, what the heck. I used 3-4 stands of each color, cut them in half, then tied them in one color at a time. Three turns of cactus chenille, then cover the head with a sparse veil of chartreuse ice dub. (Get it? It looks like a slice of grapefruit.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s