Originally a simple leech made out of bunny fur, you can fish variations of the Bunny Leech, either strippin’ like streamers or rollin’ like Woolly Buggers. Try many different colors, conehead, bug-eye, articulated, with and without tinsel, and watch the fish come.
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1. About The Bunny Leech
The Bunny leech is a large fly pattern that offers many advantages and has a proven track record. Firstly, it sinks well (once you get it wet), breathes, and undulates. Also, the fly pattern moves a lot of water and shows a natural moving action when you use a strip-and-pause retrieve. And if that was not all, anglers can tie this pattern in just about any color they like.
The Bunny Leech works will for those that like to throw big flies for big fish, and have the gear to do so. It is a large fly pattern popular with anglers who use the Spey rods and the two-handed switch for streamer fishing, especially in the fall when steelhead and salmon will readily take this fly. The Bunny leech is also known as the String Leech or the Rabbit strip leech.
This pattern is available in different color rabbit strips (browns, olive, white or black), ice dubs, collars, etc. Use the Bunny Leech fly pattern to make your fly box versatile by using various sized eyes for different fishing conditions – from bead head to bug eyes.
2. When And How To Fish It
The Bunny Leech fly pattern is a great pick if you are eyeing predatory fish. It gets down quickly in water and shows some sporty dependable action. And if your catch nips at the tail, missing the hook when you swing or strip the streamer, this pattern is tailored for your fishing style.
For those fishing in the fall, the Bunny leech is a must in your box. This is a great pattern choice for Steelhead and Salmon, especially the “egg sucking” version that will nail fish during the fall runs.
The natural rabbit leech also makes a very good pattern for saltwater on the coast. For spring fishing and fishing over reefs, a slimmer strip of rabbits with natural colors and lighter dressing is used.
Related Article: 101 Proven Patterns – Best Flies For Trout
3. Tie It, or Buy It?
The Bunny leech is a versatile pattern that you can tie in different sizes and colors to emulate leeches, baitfish, flesh, or crayfish. This steelhead pattern mostly employs a black or purple rabbit. Rabbit fur is soft and comes to life when it is drenched in water.
If you prefer to tie it, Bunny leech strips can be wound around a hook shank creating a fur strip body. This technique was popularized by the late Charlie Brooks for his Assam Dragon. The bunny leech strip offers a wide tall profile as the fur is almost perpendicular to the shank. Sometimes anglers use a sleek profile for crosscut fur strips. Crosscut strips are either cut straight or across the natural grain of the hide.
The bunny leech pattern places the hook near the end of the tail by using a loop of Berkley Fireline.
This has three major advantages:
- You can replace the hook if it weakens or becomes bent, thereby extending the life of the fly
- Places the hook at the back of the fly, easy for “nipping” fish to locate
- Prevents the fouling of the long tail around the hook bend.
Make sure you add a loop in your fly pattern!
4. Basic Recipe Card
Remember, there are many variations of the Bunny Leach, from color, to weight, size, etc. Here’s a basic recipe but get ready to mix it up, just like you would for a Woolly Bugger:
Hook: 2X-long streamer hook, in sizes 2 to 6
Thread: Black (or other color to match predominant fly color, such as tan, red, or purple), thickness 6/0 (or 140 denier)
Head: preferably a gold or silver cone, or none at all depending on whether you incorporate bug eyes or not, depth of fishing, etc. Or finish off with thread color to match body, if not using a cone or bug-eyes.
Bug Eyes: optional, if so drop the cone head
Weight: Lead-free non-toxic wire, diameter 0.015 – 0.030 depending on size of bunny leach
Adhesive To Secure Cone-Head or Bug Eyes: Superglue
Tail: Rabbit-fur, in color of fly, back end of Zonker strip
Body: Chenielle or rabbit-fur dubbing, consider also using red flash dubbing, with open twists of rabbit over it
Wing (optional): a few strands of flash
Finishing Adhesive: Head cement
Black is the most common color used in a bunny leech pattern, followed by purple, olive, and brown. A few strands of Krystal Flash or Flashabou are often incorporated into the pattern, either at the tail end or at the head position.
For streaming in lakes, reduce the size of the fly pattern by using size 6-8 streamer hooks and a reduced tail length. An intelligent trick by popular anglers involves the use of chip clips.
And, don’t forget the outlandish “Pink Panther” bunny leach, shown above a few pics when you really want to show large fish some color that will drive them crazy.
The Bunny Leech is also preferred for Steelhead and Salmon, though in larger sizes of 2-4. Some bunny leech patterns use an Egg Headwrap of chenille. The Mils Davis is another popular variation in this pattern.
How To Tie It
Get right down to business with Loon Outdoors:
We also like the Conehead Bunny Leech fly pattern from Tightline Productions. In the following video, Tim Flagler walks you through the process of tying this Conehead Bunny Leech pattern. The tying steps are simple, and Tim’s tying tips are impressive. A special mention for the use of the chips clips to manage the bunny strips.
Next Article: Fly Tying For Beginners – 3 Steps To Start Under $100