The ESL fly pattern lends itself well to variation.


The Egg Sucking Leech (ESL) fly pattern has been around for quite a few years now. It has taken on many variations and colour schemes. The fish attractive “hot spot” provided by the bright chenille egg-head is key to its effectiveness. Theory goes, this hot spot provides a distinctive target on which fish home-in and attack. Despite this flies’ great success rate, why would anyone want a fish to home-in on the hook eye and not the hook point? If a more positive hook-up rate is the desired outcome, then reversing the bright egg-head to a position closer to the hook point makes good sense. Think of it this way; the leech swallows the egg whole and passes it intact out its posterior end. It is still an ESL, just that the S stands for something different than sucking.

  This reversed ESL lends itself nicely to being tied on a purpose-built double-eyed shank, with an articulated hook swinging free behind it. The shank provides the length required without suffering the leverage problems associated with long-shank hooks. The short-shank hook provides a great base for the hot-spot. The double-eyed shank also lends itself well to weighting. Weight can be either in the form of lead wire wrapped around the shank or by attaching heavy dumbbell type eyes to it.


Recipe for the ESL

Shank – Senyo’s Articulated Shank, 1 5/8” long, black.

Hook – Mustad 9174, 1X short, 1X stout, ring-eye, bronzed, size #2.

Thread – Black, Uni-thread. Fluorescent orange for tying bead in place

Egg – 3/16” dia. tungsten bead, painted neon orange, slid onto hook, tied in place.

Body – Dyed UV Polar Chenille, black, wound over articulated shank.

Hackle – Schlappen feather, dyed black, wound on as collar.

Eyes – Lead dumbbell eyes, large or ex. large.


Note: colours and weighting can be altered to suit the whims of the angler/tyer.