“”Davey’s Spring Creek Special Leech” Fly Pattern Recipe
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Origin of Pattern
Over the years I’ve been asked by a number of different people how to tie my “Spring Creek Special” leech pattern. I developed this pattern in 2002/2003 when I spent an entire year exploring the Eastern Washington high desert spring creeks and lakes. I was working at Microsoft at the time, night shift four days a week, and I’d leave straight from work to head to my friend Sparse Grey Hackle’s (Tyler Laurenti) house in Yakima.
Sparse (his nickname on Washingtonflyfishing.com forum) had an in with a fisheries biologist who was, off the books, feeding us info about certain lakes in eastern Washington that were stocked at one time or another and essentially forgotten about. Some of these leads proved to be dead-ends, of course, but some of them REALLY paid off!! In exchange we would give him a report on what we found, as he trusted our assessment or if nothing else it was better than no assessment at all!
Many of the spring creeks in Eastern Washington that we were exploring, indeed most spring creeks anywhere in the world, had under-cut banks. I needed a way to “jig out” the wild brown trout that used the bank for concealment. Drawing on my “roots” of fishing ultralight spinning rods with mini-jigs, I designed a quick easy “rabbit jig”. My father had taught me his system of using lightweight lead jig-heads on ultralights and changing the plastic two-tone skirt body to match the color the fish wanted to eat.
Sometimes it was pumpkin-seed, or black and blue… With this system we caught every kind of fish we fished for, and I had this in mind when I was designing the spring creek special. I wanted something that had phenomonal vertical action, was very quick and easy to tie, and “modular” so I could tie it in any color to match the species I was fishing for.
Sometimes I would tie two-tone “Spring Creeks” but generally all one color, particularly in olive, black, grey, and crayfish color. I would carefully stalk the banks of spring creeks in the desert with a short leader, jigging a “Spring Creek Special” down the undercut bank, and I never grew tired of watching those massive prehistoric jaws appear beneath my feet and suck the fly in with no hesitation!!
Around this time I learned how to tie a rabbit dubbing loop. Aaron Reimer at River Run Fly Shop was who originally showed me the concept, and Ron at All About the Fly helped me get a dubbing maker. I met Ron while squatting in a two bedroom apartment with seven Polynesian islanders while working at Microsoft.
Ron – All About the Fly
I used to borrow a bike and ride down to Swede’s Fly Shop, where Ron worked at the time, on my way to fish the Sammamish Slough. Ron and I became good friends, and I eventually ended up being his first employee when him and his wife Kristen opened All About the Fly in Monroe, Washington. More on that story here…
Creating a rabbit dubbing loop allowed me to design a fly that had no leather in the body whatsoever. At the time I was on a huge streamer kick, and pretty much fished nothing but bunny leech patterns most of the time, unless I was mouse fishing at night.
But my big complaint with the bunny pattern I was tying was the amount of lead I had to put on the fly to off-set the natural flotation properties of the leather. The dubbing loop solved this problem by providing me with a “rabbit rope” bound by very fine wire spun together. This also greatly decreased the overall tying time of the fly.
These days I’ve gotten so used to tying my dubbing loops by hand, that I don’t even have a dubbing brush machine any more. They are very nice if you’re doing any sort of production, and I plan on getting another one soon… In the meantime, you can do you own loops with nothing more than a whip-finish tool.
Simple form a loop with the thread, doubled or tripled for strength, place the top inside whip finish tool in the loop, insert a one-to-two inch strip of rabbit. Pinch the whip finish tool as you cut the leather off the rabbit strip. Then spin the whip finish tool until you have a nice “rabbit brush” and wrap forward. Very sharp scissors and practice are required.
So what makes the Spring Creek Special different from any other rabbit leech out there? It’s a pattern that is based on the action that the fly produces, not necessarily how it looks. The very dense tungsten head wants to dive, the body has no leather in it just rabbit, yet the tail has a strip of rabbit that acts as a rudder. Tied on a loop knot, you essentially get a “rabbit jig” that can be tied in any color pattern and any hook style to catch just about anything that swims.
I’ve tied many different versions and caught just about everything I’ve fished or on them: steelhead versions and fished them under indicators, tied tarpon versions, sea-run brown trout in Argentina, brutally picky backcountry browns in New Zealand, bonefish in the bahamas, carp in lake erie, peacock bass in canals in Florida… Just about anything I’ve thrown one at!
Another reason why it works so well is that it plays on the fishes predatory instinct. I’ve fished these flies on loop knots in some of the world’s heaviest pressured fisheries, which great success. “Jig” a spring creek special enticing near the nose of the pickiest spring creek brown trout, and chances are he’s gonna eat it!
Chris Scoones, founder of Washingtonflyfishing.com and a great friend of mine, asked me to post the recipe on his website in 2004. Here is a copy of the original recipe that I posted, as well as some example photos! Enjoy!
– Primal Angler –
Posted on WashingtonFlyFishing.com in October 2004
The Spring Creek Special
Hook: 5263BL Size 8 2XL
Bead: Black Tungsten 5/32
Tail: Rabbit Strip the Length of the hook shank
Body: Rabbit dubbing brush, change density of brush for more or less buoyancy
Notes: That’s it? Sounds like a leech pattern to me… The key is the tungsten bead on the head, the lightwire shank, rabbit fur body, but without the buoyant leather in it, and a leather tail. The result is a fly with the action of a jig, only a little bit better.
In order to get the full range of motion out of this fly, it’s NECESSARY to use a loop knot of some sort, I prefer Lefty’s Loop Knot, also called the Non-Slip Mono Loop. I tie these in olive and black for trout mostly. The thick body and sparse tail roughly resembles that of sculpin. Use a shooting head or sink tip and swing this pattern through tailouts and in front of snags.
In lakes black, olive, white, and burgundy, and excellent colors, fished on a slow, erratic retrieve look suspiciously leech like. For steelhead, I tie them in black, red, pink, purple, and fuschia. I often use two-tone spring creek specials for steelhead, such as black and red.
For winter steelhead, use a heavy shooting head and swing the spring creek special through the deepest part of the run, underneath the fast water. For summer, either a lighter sink tip or a dry line with an indicator.
Dead-drift the spring creek directly under the indicator (4 or 5 feet depending on depth or run). In spring creeks, use a 4 foot leader tied with a loop knot. The jig-like action of this pattern makes it excellent for jigging in front of undercuts. The name comes from this technique, as this is what I originally developed it for.
I use a dubbing brush maker called the Twister. It is possible to tie this pattern with a hand dubbing loop or a dubbing loop tool, however I find it easier to pre-make my dubbing brushes with wire. To control how fast the fly sinks, you can make the body sparser or denser. On my average size Spring Creek special, I’ll make three flies out of a brush.
I use the 5263BL because of it’s light-wire shank. I’ve experimented with heavy wire hooks for steelhead and big sea-run browns. I’ve found that if you’re swinging the SCS, you can get away with a heavy wire hook, because the jigging action is not as important.
I’ve found the best all-around size to have is a size 8. This is a good streamer size for rivers, lakes, summer steelhead, and sea-run browns. I do, however, carry them in size 10’s for super picky fish, and 6’s for fish looking for a bigger meal.
Posted on WashingtonFlyFishing.com in October 2004