Strung Out MOAL Leech by Loren Williams

Articles, Fly Patterns, Step-by-Step Tutorials — By on December 9, 2009 3:48 pm

The Strung Out movement was created by Pacific Northwest guide Derek Fergus. Articulated flies are nothing new, but this method of tying permits an angler to create very large flies with articulated action yet eliminating a solid, long hook shank. Tube flies can give you large flies and small hooks but they loose the articulation some folks find very appealing, especially on flies intended to be swung and not retrieved. Articulated flies use the long solid hook shank of a front hook to build the fly, but that shank can be used by the fish as leverage to work the fly loose or break the leader. Fergus’ Strung Out philosophy of tying involves tying the fly on section of “string”.

The MOAL (“Mother Of All Leeches”) is a successful version of the Strung Out Leech.

There are a number of ways to tie this tricky, yet simple, pattern. Shown below is the way I have decided is easiest for me. Note: You can adjust the degree of articulation by altering the length of Dacron and the length of the forward hook shank.

Front Hook: Straight Eye Streamer or Nymph Hook
Rear Hook: Short Shank Beak Hook
Weight: Spirit River Hot Bead
Thread: Flat A or other Heavy Thread
Rear Accent Bead: Cascade Crest Salmon Candy 4 mm Glass Faceted Bead
Platform: 30-pound Dacron fly line backing
Body: Rear Pink Cross-Cut Rabbit; Front Flesh CrossCut Rabbit

Place an appropriately sized Hot Bead on your front hook and affix the hook in your vise.


Start your thread behind the bead and lay a short base on the shank. This will provide a rough foundation against which to seat the Dacron.


Cut a section of 30-pound Dacron Fly Line backing or other suitable, flexible material.


Double the material forming a loop.


Secure the material to the hook, loop to the rear, using a few loose turns.


Slide the material forward until you have the desired length of material extending beyond the hook bend.


Secure the material to the hook with tight wraps extending up to the bead.


Fold the excess material over itself and bind it back to the rear so that it will not slip out.


Clip the excess backing.


Lift the loop and sneak your thread underneath.


Wrap back on the backing only until you reach the location where you want your body to start.


The hook will provide a place for the thread/backing rest while you secure your rabbit strip.


Select a section of Cross-Cut rabbit of the desired color. Here I am using pink. Orient the strip so that the hide faces you and the fur points to the rear.


Position the fur strip against the backing as shown .


… and using pinch wraps secure the hide to the backing. It will take some moderate manipulation of the bobbin holder to wrap between the backing and hook shank.


Once the hide is secured advance the thread up to the hook shank where you can let it rest.


Wrap the rabbit strip forward around the backing, being sure that you do not trap the fur between wraps.


Once you reach the shank…


…secure the rabbit strip and clip the excess.


Secure another section of cross-cut rabbit in an alternative color. Here, I am using a flesh colored strip. Orient it to the hook in the same manner as before.


Secure it where you tied-off the rear strip.


Advance the thread forward.


Wrap the strip forward…


… ending TIGHT against the bead.


Take a wrap of thread around the strip to secure it…


…clip the excess.


Snug up on the thread wraps and the strip/thread should snap into place in the cavity of the bead. This is why I suggest using heavy thread.


A few security wraps, again sinking out of sight into the bead cavity will hold things together.


Whip finish and clip the thread.


Apply some cement and let it seep into the bead cavity.


Almost done!


Expose the hook bend and rear portion of the shank and, using wire cutters, snip off the unused section of the hook.


Look, Ma! No Hook!


Expose the loop of backing.


Slide on an appropriately colored glass faceted bead.


Next. loop on a beak hook to your backing.


A finished MOAL Leech!


Note: Be sure to make your backing loop long enough to accept the bead and still have enough room to loop on the hook!

Loren Williams is an accomplished fly angler with over 3-decades of angling and tying experience behind him. He is considered one of the best teaching guides in Upstate New York where he guides for salmon, trout, and steelhead using traditional fly-fishing techniques ( Loren is also a very popular public speaker, regularly presenting on topics relating to fly-fishing for salmon, steelhead and trout.

Additionally, Loren is a successful competitive angling member of Fly Fishing Team USA.

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