The 7 must-have flies for trout anglers in the West

The magnificent 7

Keep yourself busy this winter by restocking your fly boxes with these essential western trout patterns



If you’ve never heard of this leech pattern before, don’t feel bad—it’s uniquely Albertan. It arrived in the mid-1990s and was an instant hit with lake anglers. It resembles a Woolly Bugger minus the hackle wrapped around the body, making it simple to tie. The fly gained its name from the manner in which it’s fished: motionless, as if it were in a catatonic state.

Fishing the Catatonic Leech is as close to bobber fishing as fly fishing gets. You rig the fly four to six feet beneath a strike indicator, cast it out and just let it sit. Some anglers twitch the line every couple of minutes, but that’s more about breaking the boredom than increasing their success. This is the ideal early-season fly when there’s little or no insect activity. Just after ice-out, trout have a frustrating habit of taunting anglers by aimlessly cruising around the lake, refusing everything thrown at them. But this fly seems to be just too much for them to resist. Although you can’t count on non-stop action with the Catatonic Leech, it sure can save the day on a spring outing.

HOOK: Streamer, sizes 10 to 14

THREAD: Olive, 6/0 or 8/0

TAIL: Olive marabou

BODY: Olive marabou dubbed onto thread

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