How To Tie A Bunny Leech Fly? Become a Fly Tying Pro

The Bunny Leech fly is a tried-and-true pattern that has become a favorite among seasoned anglers. Why, you ask?

Well, the secret lies in its uncanny ability to imitate the wriggling movements of leeches a delectable treat for fish such as bass, trout, and steelhead. This versatile fly has earned a reputation for its effectiveness in various fishing scenarios.

In this comprehensive guide, I will take you by the hand and lead you into the world of Bunny Leech fly tying. From essential materials and tools to step-by-step instructions, we’ll ensure that you become a master at tying this irresistible fly pattern.

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Why Bunny Leech Fly Should be in Your Tackle Box?

Ever wondered why the Bunny Leech fly is a go-to pattern for anglers? Let’s dive into the fascinating world of this versatile fly pattern and explore why it’s highly regarded among fly fishermen and women.

Origins and Purpose: Mimicking Leeches

The Bunny Leech fly was originally designed to imitate leeches, which are a favored food source for many fish species. Leeches are prevalent in freshwater environments, and fish such as trout, bass, and steelhead actively feed on them.

The Bunny Leech fly seeks to replicate the appearance and movement of a leech, triggering the predatory instincts of these fish.

Versatility: Effective in Various Fishing Scenarios

One of the key reasons the Bunny Leech fly is so popular is its versatility. It can be fished in both stillwater and moving water, making it suitable for lakes, rivers, and streams.

Whether you’re targeting trout, bass, steelhead, or even other species like panfish, the Bunny Leech fly can be an effective choice. Its lifelike profile and movement make it enticing to a wide range of fish.

Why Bunny Leech Fly Should Be in Your Tackle Box-Honest Fishers

Lifelike Appearance

The Bunny Leech fly typically consists of a few key components. The body is made from strips of zonker or rabbit fur, which provide a realistic leech-like profile. The fur creates a pulsating action in the water, mimicking the undulating movement of a live leech.

The addition of rubber legs behind the collar of the fly adds extra movement and attracts the attention of fish. The fly is usually tied on a streamer hook in various sizes to match the target species and fishing conditions.

Benefits in Different Fishing Scenarios

The Bunny Leech fly offers several benefits in different fishing scenarios. In lakes and stillwater environments, it can be fished with a slow retrieve or even allowed to sink to the desired depth, imitating the natural movement of leeches.

This makes it effective for targeting cruising trout or bass. In rivers and streams, the Bunny Leech fly can be fished using a variety of techniques such as dead-drifting, swinging, or stripping. It’s particularly effective when fish are keying in on leeches during the spring and fall seasons.

This fly is a popular pattern among anglers due to its ability to mimic leeches, its versatility in different fishing scenarios, and its lifelike appearance in the water. Whether you’re targeting trout, bass, steelhead, or other species, this fly can be a reliable choice.

Essential Materials and Tools You Will Need

When it comes to tying a Bunny Leech fly that will entice fish like a seasoned angler, you need to have the right materials and tools at your disposal. These components play a crucial role in creating an effective and lifelike imitation of leeches that fish simply can’t resist. The following materials and tools you will need to tie a Bunny Leach fly:

Streamer Hooks:

The foundation of any successful Bunny Leech fly is a sturdy and reliable streamer hook. Opt for sizes ranging from 2/0 to 8, depending on the species you’re targeting and the size of the leeches in the area.

Streamer hooks provide the necessary strength and hooking power to handle aggressive strikes and battles with feisty fish.

Zonker Strips:

Zonker strips are the key ingredient in creating the tantalizing tail and body of the Bunny Leech fly. These strips are made from the soft, pliable fur found on the hide of animals such as rabbits or minks.

They come in various colors, allowing you to match the natural hues of local leeches or experiment with vibrant shades to attract attention.


Dubbing serves as the “body” of your Bunny Leech fly, giving it volume and imitating the segmented appearance of a real leech. Choose dubbing material that matches the color and texture of leeches in your fishing waters.

Popular choices include natural fur dubbing, such as rabbit or seal, or synthetic options that offer durability and lifelike movement.

Vise and Bobbin:

To securely hold your streamer hook and thread, a reliable vise is essential. Look for a vise with adjustable jaws to accommodate different hook sizes. A bobbin—a tool that holds your tying thread—will enable smooth and controlled thread wraps, ensuring a neat and durable fly.

Scissors and Whip Finisher:

Sharp scissors are indispensable for trimming excess materials and achieving clean, precise cuts. Invest in a high-quality pair that will make your fly-tying experience easier and more enjoyable.

A whip finisher tool allows you to securely finish off your fly by creating tight knots that won’t come undone during casting or battling fish.

Other Optional Materials:

While the above components are the core elements of a Bunny Leech fly, you can also incorporate additional materials to enhance its effectiveness. For example, brightly colored rubber legs can be added behind the collar of the fly to create enticing movement and attract predatory fish like bass and trout.

By gathering these essential materials and tools, you’ll be equipped to tie Bunny Leech flies that not only look remarkably lifelike but also possess the irresistible qualities necessary to entice fish to strike.

Remember to invest in high-quality materials, as they will contribute to the durability and effectiveness of your flies.

Steps for Tying a Bunny Leech Fly

Ready to tie your very own Bunny Leech fly? Let’s dive into the tying process and unravel the secrets of creating this enticing pattern that will have fish lining up for a taste. Get your tools ready, and let’s embark on this exciting journey of fly-tying mastery!

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Before we begin, let’s ensure you have all the necessary materials at hand. As I mentioned before, you’ll need a streamer hook, various colors of Zonker strips, and dubbing. These components form the foundation of your Bunny Leech fly and play a crucial role in creating a lifelike imitation that fish find irresistible.

Step 2: Attach the Streamer Hook

To start, secure the streamer hook in your vise. Make sure it is held firmly, allowing you to work with precision and ease throughout the tying process.

Step 3: Prepare the Zonker Strip

Take your chosen zonker strip and cut it to the desired length. The length can vary depending on your fishing preferences and the target species. Remember, the Bunny Leech fly is a versatile pattern that can be tailored to suit different fishing conditions and fish preferences.

Step 4: Tie in the Zonker Strip

Position the zonker strip at the back of the hook shank, leaving a small tag end to serve as the tail. Secure the strip in place by making several tight wraps of thread. This will ensure that the tail remains intact and provides the necessary movement in the water.

Step 5: Create a Dubbing Noodle

Now, it’s time to work with dubbing to create a thick body for your Bunny Leech fly. Apply suitable dubbing material to your thread and create a dubbing noodle by spinning the thread. This will help you achieve a full-bodied appearance, adding buoyancy and realism to your fly.

Steps for Tying a Bunny Leech Fly-Honest Fishers

Step 6: Wrap the Dubbing Noodle

Starting from the back of the hook shank, carefully wrap the dubbing noodle forward to create a thick body. Make sure to leave some space behind the hook eye to tie off the fly later. This body will imitate the girth and movement of a leech, making it an irresistible meal for hungry fish.

Step 7: Wrap the Zonker Strip

Now, take the zonker strip and begin wrapping it around the hook shank in the opposite direction of the dubbing. This will create a segmented and textured appearance, further enhancing the fly’s resemblance to a leech. Continue wrapping until you reach the designated space behind the hook eye.

Step 8: Secure the Zonker Strip

With the zonker strip wrapped, it’s time to secure it in place. Make several tight wraps of thread to hold the strip firmly against the hook shank. Ensure that the strip remains evenly spaced and doesn’t slip or unravel during your fishing adventures.

Step 9: Add Rubber Legs (Optional)

For an extra touch of attractiveness and movement, consider adding brightly colored rubber legs behind the collar of your Bunny Leech fly. These legs can mimic the wriggling action of a leech and entice fish to strike.

Experiment with different leg colors and lengths to find the combination that works best for your target species.

Step 10: Finish and Seal the Fly

To complete your Bunny Leech fly, finish off with a neat whip finish to secure everything in place. Trim off any excess materials, ensuring a clean and polished appearance. For added durability, apply a small drop of head cement to the thread wraps and let it dry before hitting the water.

If you want to create a conehead bunny leech or articulated bunny leech, the entire process is the same. The difference is that you’ll need to use colored olive rabbit fur with black barring for the conehead bunny leach and crystal chenille and blue slop for the articulated leach.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully tied your very own Bunny Leech fly. Now, it’s time to put your creativity to the test and see how it performs on the water. Remember to practice different retrieves and presentations to mimic the natural movements of a leech and entice those finicky fish.

Pro Tips and Variations

Want to take your Bunny Leech fly-tying skills to the next level? Dive into these expert tips and explore exciting variations that will make your fly even more irresistible to fish. Let’s unleash the full potential of the Bunny Leech fly and elevate your fly fishing game!

Rubber Legs: Adding a Wriggling Element

One pro tip to enhance the effectiveness of your Bunny Leech fly is to incorporate rubber legs. These legs provide an additional element of movement and mimic the wriggling action of a live leech.

Attach brightly colored rubber legs behind the collar of your fly, allowing them to dance enticingly in the water. This extra bit of motion can trigger aggressive strikes from fish, particularly bass and trout.

Experiment with different leg colors and lengths to find the combination that works best for the species you’re targeting.

Color Adjustments: Match the Hatch

Adapting the color of your Bunny Leech fly to match the natural leeches in your fishing area can significantly increase your success rate. Leeches come in various shades, ranging from olive and brown to black and even maroon.

Observe the local leech populations and select zonker strips that closely resemble their colors. Remember, different bodies of water may have different leech colorations, so it’s essential to match the hatch for optimal results.

Consider carrying a range of colors in your fly box to adapt to changing conditions and fish preferences.

Size Matters: Catering to Fish Preferences

Modifying the size of your Bunny Leech fly can make a world of difference in enticing fish to strike. Pay attention to the size of the leeches in the waters you’re fishing and adjust your fly accordingly. For larger species like steelhead, consider tying larger Bunny Leech flies in sizes 2/0 to 4.

When targeting smaller fish such as trout or panfish, downsize your fly to sizes 8 to 12. By offering a fly that matches the natural leeches in both size and color, you’ll increase your chances of fooling even the most selective fish.

Weighted or Unweighted: Controlling Depth and Action

Another variation to consider is the weight of your Bunny Leech fly. Depending on your fishing scenario, you can choose between weighted or unweighted versions.

Adding a bead or cone head to your fly provides extra weight, allowing it to sink deeper and reach fish holding in the depths. Weighted Bunny Leech flies are particularly effective when fishing in fast-moving rivers or deep pools.

On the other hand, unweighted versions can be used to imitate leeches swimming closer to the surface or when fish are feeding higher in the water column. Experiment with different weights to adapt to varying conditions and control the depth and action of your fly.

Tail Enhancements: Adding Flash and Movement

To give your Bunny Leech fly an extra edge, consider incorporating tail enhancements such as flash materials or soft hackles. Adding a few strands of flashabou or a soft hackle feather to the tail can create additional movement and attract attention from fish.

The subtle flash and pulsating action mimic the natural behavior of a leech, making your fly irresistible. Tail enhancements work particularly well in clear waters or when fishing in low-light conditions, where the added visibility can help draw strikes from curious fish.

Innovative Materials: Explore Beyond Zonker Strips

While zonker strips are commonly used for Bunny Leech flies, don’t be afraid to explore alternative materials to give your fly a unique twist. Substitute the zonker strip with marabou feathers, rabbit fur, or even synthetic materials like silicone or rubber.

These alternative materials can create different textures, movements, and profiles that may trigger the predatory instincts of fish. Marabou, for example, offers a softer and more fluid movement, while synthetic materials can provide durability and unique color patterns.

By experimenting with different materials, you can create variations of the Bunny Leech fly that cater to specific fishing conditions or target species.

Retrieve Techniques: Mimicking Leech Behavior

To maximize the effectiveness of your Bunny Leech fly, it’s crucial to employ retrieve techniques that mimic the natural behavior of a leech. Leeches move with a sinuous motion, undulating through the water.

When retrieving your fly, try a slow and steady strip with intermittent pauses, allowing the fly to sink and then rise again. This retrieval style imitates the movements of a leech, enticing fish with its lifelike action. Vary the speed and depth of your retrieve to determine what triggers the most strikes from fish.

Fly Presentation: Matching the Conditions

Adapting your fly presentation to the fishing conditions can make a significant difference in enticing fish to strike. In low-light conditions or when fish are feeding closer to the surface, fish your Bunny Leech fly on a floating line or with a sink-tip line to keep the fly in the desired depth range.

In deeper water or faster currents, switch to a sinking line or add additional weight to get your fly down to the fish. By matching your fly presentation to the conditions, you increase your chances of success.

Confidence and Persistence: Key Factors in Success

While the Bunny Leech fly is an incredibly effective pattern, it’s essential to remember that confidence and persistence play significant roles in achieving success.

Trust in your fly choice and fishing techniques, and be persistent in your efforts. Keep experimenting with different variations, retrieve techniques, and colors until you find what works best in your fishing waters.

Building confidence in your fly and fishing abilities will ultimately lead to more hookups and memorable fishing experiences.

Learn from Others: Share and Seek Knowledge

Fly fishing is a community built on shared knowledge and experiences. Take the time to connect with other anglers, both online and on the water. Share your Bunny Leech fly variations and success stories, and learn from their insights and techniques.

Participate in fly-tying forums, attend workshops or fly-fishing expos, and watch instructional videos to expand your knowledge and refine your skills. The more you engage with the fly fishing community, the more you’ll grow as an angler and continue to improve your Bunny Leech fly tying and fishing abilities.

Now that you’re armed with these pro tips and variations, it’s time to take your Bunny Leech fly tying to new heights. Experiment, adapt, and fine-tune your approach to create an irresistible fly that will tempt even the most discerning fish.

Success Stories and Best Fishing Practices

How have anglers found success with Bunny Leech flies in their fishing adventures? Let’s delve into real-life anecdotes and explore the best practices that have led to triumphs on the water.

Discover the species, fishing conditions, and strategies that have proven effective with Bunny Leech flies, and gain valuable insights to enhance your own fly fishing experiences.

Trout Tales: Fooling Finicky Fish

Trout anglers have long embraced the Bunny Leech fly for its ability to entice even the most discerning trout. In rivers and streams, fishing the Bunny Leech with a slow and steady retrieve, imitating the movements of a leech, can be incredibly effective.

This technique works especially well when trout are feeding on or near the bottom. Pay attention to the color variations that closely match the local leech populations, and adjust the size of the fly to match the preference of the trout.

Remember to vary your retrieve speed and experiment with pauses to trigger strikes from trout that are closely scrutinizing their prey.

Bass Battles: Triggering Aggressive Strikes

Bass, both smallmouth and largemouth, are notorious for their aggressive nature and willingness to strike at enticing prey. Anglers have found great success with the Bunny Leech fly by adding brightly colored rubber legs behind the collar of the fly.

This addition provides extra movement and triggers aggressive responses from a bass. When targeting bass, consider casting your Bunny Leech fly near structures such as submerged rocks, fallen trees, or weed beds, as these are prime locations for bass to ambush their prey.

Retrieve the fly with short, quick strips interspersed with pauses to mimic the escape behavior of a leech, enticing bass to strike with gusto.

Steelhead Stories: Tempting the Mighty Fish

Steelheads, known for their strength and acrobatics, can be challenging to catch. Anglers targeting steelhead have found success with Bunny Leech flies in rivers and larger streams.

Opt for larger sizes, such as 2/0 to 4, to match the size of the natural leeches steelhead feed on. When fishing for steelhead, it’s crucial to present the fly at the right depth.

Utilize weighted versions of the Bunny Leech fly or add additional split shot to your leader to get the fly down to the holding depths of steelhead. Experiment with various retrieves, from slow and steady to short and quick strips, to determine what triggers the most strikes from these powerful fish.

Best Times and Places: Maximizing Opportunities

While the Bunny Leech fly can be effective in various fishing conditions, there are specific times and places where it shines brightest. Early mornings and late evenings, when fish are actively feeding, can provide excellent opportunities for success with Bunny Leech flies.

Focus on stretches of water with moderate currents or areas where fish gather, such as deep pools or the heads and tails of riffles. Look for signs of leech activity, such as leeches swimming near the surface or leeches dislodged from the bottom, as these are indications that fish are actively targeting leeches.

By aligning your fishing efforts with the best times and places, you increase your chances of encountering eager fish.

Adaptability: The Key to Bunny Leech Success

One of the key factors that contribute to the success of Bunny Leech flies is adaptability. Be willing to adjust your approach based on the conditions, the behavior of the fish, and the feedback you receive from the water.

If a particular retrieve or presentation style isn’t yielding results, don’t be afraid to experiment and try something different. Vary the speed of your retrieve, change the depth at which you’re fishing, or switch to a different color variation of the Bunny Leech fly.

Adaptability is often the difference between a slow day on the water and a banner day filled with exciting catches.

By incorporating these success stories and best fishing practices into your Bunny Leech fly fishing repertoire, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle various species and fishing conditions with confidence.

Remember to observe the behavior of the fish, adapt your techniques as needed, and enjoy the thrill of success when a fish strikes your Bunny Leech fly. Tight lines and memorable fishing adventures await you!

How Do I Know If I Tied My Bunny Leech Fly Correctly?

Knowing if you’ve tied your Bunny Leech fly correctly is essential to ensure its effectiveness in attracting fish. Here are a few indicators that can help you determine if your fly has been tied properly:


Check the overall proportions of your Bunny Leech fly. The tail, body, and head should be balanced and in proportion to each other. The length of the tail should be appropriate, and the body should have a realistic thickness. The size and shape of the head should resemble that of a leech.


Assess the quality and placement of the materials. The zonker strip should be securely tied in, and the wraps should be evenly spaced, providing a segmented appearance. The dubbing should create a full-bodied look, covering the hook shank adequately. Ensure that the materials are neatly tied and don’t unravel easily.


Give your Bunny Leech fly a gentle shake or simulate the movement of a swimming leech in the water. Observe how the materials react and the level of natural movement they exhibit. The zonker strip should undulate and pulsate, imitating the lifelike motion of a leech. If the fly appears stiff or lacks movement, adjustments may be needed.

How Do I Know If I Tied My Bunny Leech Correctly -Honest Fishers


Examine the durability of your fly. Check if the thread wraps are secure and tight, keeping all materials in place. The head cement or glue should hold everything together and prevent any unraveling or loosening of the materials.

Visual resemblance:

Compare your Bunny Leech fly to images or videos of leeches found in the waters you intend to fish. Pay attention to the coloration, shape, and texture. Aim for a fly that closely resembles the natural leeches in your fishing environment.

Once you’ve assessed these aspects, the final test is to take your Bunny Leech fly to the water. Cast it out, observe how it behaves in the current, and pay attention to the fish’s response. If you consistently attract strikes or notice fish showing interest, it’s a good indication that your Bunny Leech fly has been tied correctly.

Remember, practice and experience will help you refine your fly-tying skills. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempts aren’t perfect. Take note of any improvements that can be made and continue to refine your technique.

With time and practice, you’ll become more confident in your ability to tie Bunny Leech flies that consistently produce results on the water.


You’ve now mastered the art of tying the Bunny Leech fly. By following the step-by-step instructions, exploring variations, and paying attention to the details, you’ve equipped yourself with a powerful tool for enticing fish on your next angling adventure.

Whether you’re targeting smallmouth and largemouth bass, steelhead, or trout, the Bunny Leech fly has proven its effectiveness time and time again.

Remember, fly tying is a journey of creativity, skill, and discovery. Continuously refine your techniques, experiment with different colors and sizes, and seek inspiration from fellow anglers. The possibilities are endless, and the joy of crafting your own flies is truly rewarding.

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