Holy MOALy

MOAL Leech

MOAL Leech

One of the fly’s on my list for my September Steelhead trip on the Lower Deschutes in Oregon; is the MOAL (Mother of All Leech’s) leech.  I know that in September it is an unlikely pattern, however if it gets cold early or the White River is up and blows things out; it will be a good pattern to have.


MOAL Leech fly tying materials:

Hooks: TMC 811s # 6 and Gamakatsu Octopus # 2
Junction material: fly line backing
Body: Two Tone Cross cut rabbit strips
Cone or Bead: Your choice based on weight required.
Head: Black Ice Dub
Other:Tear Mender, Zap-a-Gap, Single Malt Scotch


Over the past few weeks I have researched a number of various sites on how best to tie this pattern.   One referenced the pattern as being “quite simple to tie”, while that particular post did not make the pattern look simple to tie I learned a few things about the MOAL.

Lesson #1; The MOAL is probably best tied in the dead of winter, I mean truly, when you have absolutely; nothing better to do.  While I am confident a precursory visit to the liquor store is a bad idea, I am still debating the idea of beer.  Both thin the blood and increases bleeding.

I sit here, typing this with fingers covered in super glue, tear mender and numerous lesions that were created by this hook filled pattern.  I feel at this point I have warned you, proceed with caution…

I have tied week long Atlantic salmon patterns that were more simple to dissect and tie.  However, the results are going to be worth it, I just know it!

One thing I learned today is that tying without a vise, which I have always wanted to try, is totally cool and fun.  I have been working to “organize my tying” and this was the perfect pattern to work on in front of the TV.

In this pattern, there are numerous steps, I may have actually lost count, if you want to tie efficiently my advice is; break it down.  I think once you figure out the steps things will/could actually go pretty quickly.  In the end this is not a pattern that I need two dozen of, so I will settle for an afternoons worth of time and a half dozen MOAL’s in varied colors.  This will likely get me through the winter and allow time for the scars to heal before trying again.


Lessons Learned:

  • Be Patient, very patient
  • Have band-aids and a tourniquet at the ready
  • Work out your steps then follow the steps closely and in order
  • I don’t think there is a way to pull this off without two vises.  You wanted a second or third anyway?
  • Once you are done with your draft fly, organize your tying and complete each prep step in bulk.
  • Just realized it is a good idea to nip the tip off of the front hook early in the process even prior to breaking it off, and pinch down the barb.



    1. Cut and lightly singe the ends of your fly line backing and loop it through your Gamakatsu hook.2013-08-11 16.55.21
    2. Nip the point and pinch the barb then wrap your front hook so that it is covered in thread.  I like to perform this step “in hand”/no vise.
      2013-08-11 16.30.10
    3. Add a cone to your trailer if using a bead or cone up front. (see above)
    4. Secure and size your trailer hook.  Loop through eye and back under.  Cover with super glue in the process for extra security.
    5. Whip finish. Pinch the barb of your front hook.
    6. Slide your cone forward up to hook eye.
      2013-08-11 16.21.42


  1. Prepare “tail light” by trimming both front and back of the brightly colored rabbit strip with scissors.
  2. Use Tear Mender to join the “tail light” rabbit to the black and pinch tightly.  Then let dry.2013-08-11 17.07.39
    2013-08-11 17.07.542013-08-11 16.21.32
  3. Insert both front and rear hooks into vises, pull tight.
  4. 2013-08-11 17.32.53
  5. Insert “tail light” rabbit strip, in-between fly line backing.  Add touch of super-glue to secure.  Fold excess “leather” from rabbit strip forward and let dry.
    2013-08-11 17.35.22
  6. Apply tear mender to backing and rabbit leather and wrap rabbit strip forward with non-overlapping turns.2013-08-11 17.41.08
  7. Continue up to the eye of the hook just behind the cone.
  8. Secure Rabbit with Thread and Super Glue.
  9. Add flash material as desired on each side.
  10. If required add UV dubbing behind the head and secure with whip finish.
  11. If using the hook listed in the notes, break off, with rotation via a pair of pliers.
  12. Yes, finally, you can now fish it or lose it on a rock on your first cast.


There are probably more steps but you get the general idea.  The key step that I was unable to find in other posts is the transition of a “tail light” color to solid black.  There are many ways to pull this off, I felt that creating a transition from one color to another by gluing one color rabbit to another provided the most efficient transition.  If you come up with a better way, please let me know.



America’s Test Fly Tying Bench

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