Fly of the Month – Leadhead, or Peeping Caddis Larvae

Fly and Notes by Hans van Klinken, photo by Hans Weilenmann
Used by permission


Hook: Partridge H1A size 8-10-12

Thread: Uni-thread, brown or tan
Head: None toxic lead shot or substitute (see tying notes)
Tag: Small strip of green fluorescent Flexibody (4 turns)
Tail/legs: Speckled tail or long back feather from a partridge wound as collar
Body: Rabbit fur dubbed and well picked out

Leadhead – A bug for the deep

I first tied my own weighted nymphs during the winter after I had been introduced to the Kvennan Special. I was using layers of leadwire to weight them and I had a high priority to make a well-shaped underbody. The materials used for his nymph were not available in Holland, but I found some satisfaction in using rabbit fur and partridge feathers. In a year of experiments I tried to bring some more improvements to the fly: I left out the tail and moved the body hackle much closer to the hookbend. A smaller tag in the same colour as the original pattern still existed, but it was not long before I did some colour experiments with the tag and tail too.

I used to tie all the bugs using leadwire to weight them, but the split-shot that I have used since 1984 was the accidental result of having run out of leadwire on one occasion, when my only option was to place a leadshot on the hookshank just behind the eye. The “Leadheaded Grayling Bug No 1” was born. With this first leadshot bug, I fished during the winter and first part of the new season with great results, but when I tried to use the fly in the shallower waters of Central Europe, the fly became stuck in the weeds, or on the bottom or between stones. Then I had a marvellous idea, an idea that certainly had come up in the minds of several other fishermen too, especially when they liked to present their flies deep and close to the bottom. I tied an upside-down variation which I achieved by replacing the leadshot on a piece of monofilament just above the eye. This improved version of the leadheaded bug I named “The Leadheaded Grayling Bug No 2”, now better known as “the Leadhead”. This pattern had even more action than earlier designs.

More flies and tying instructions by Hans are at

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