Micro Leeches and Indicator Fishing Lakes By Danie Erasmus


By the end of April anglers in northern BC are chomping at the bit to go fishing. Most lakes recently have just gone ice-off or are about to. One of the most effective methods to fly fish lakes after ice-off, as well as during the season, is indicator fishing with small flies like micro leeches. These flies imitate small leeches which are abundant in all lakes and are a staple in trout’s diet. 

Micro leech flies are tied in a variety of colours with most being either black, olive, purple or maroon. Micro leech flies in different colours are probably also mistaken for scuds (olive), damselfly nymphs (olive), mayfly nymphs (brown/olive) and even small dragonfly nymphs (brown/black/olive).

Indicator fishing lakes is one of the most exciting, fun and easy ways to fish lakes. The sight of the indicator going down as a fish takes a fly never gets old. To be effective with this method an angler needs to do the following:

  • use two anchors
  • use the right leader and knot to tie on the fly 
  • set the fly at the correct depth

When indicator fishing, the boat needs to be stationary and cannot swing around in the wind. To keep the boat still, lower two anchors, one off the bow and one off the stern. Make sure these anchors are the correct shape and have sufficient weight. Pyramid shaped or cannon balls are the best as they penetrate the lake bottom for an effective hold. Mushroom shaped and naval anchors do not anchor boats very well for indicator fishing, and even the smallest wind lift these anchors that sit on top of the lake bottom.

Anchors need to be heavy enough to keep the boat anchored in moderate wind. For boats 12 feet or smaller use two 10 to 15 pound anchors. Boats around 14 feet need two 15 pound anchors and boats 16 feet and longer require anchors weighing 20 pounds or more. Lifting these anchors can be a chore, so try using anchor locks like those produced by Scotty.

To fish micro leeches with an indicator, build a leader using level monofilament line. From the fly line to a small swivel use eight pound strength nylon monofilament such as Maxima Ultra Green. The length of the nylon depends on the fishing depth, and it can be as short as six feet to as long as 20 feet. When changing the length of the leader to suit the depth of the lake, adjust the length of the nylon. Always try to make this section 25% longer than the depth of the water. From the swivel to the fly use six feet of six pound strength fluorocarbon. 

To attach the fly to the leader use a knot that allows the fly to move freely. The clinch, uni, palomar and turtle knots are popular, but are terrible for this. Instead, use a knot such as the non-slip loop knot, also known as the Rapala knot or Lefty Kreh knot. This knot has a small loop that allows the fly to move freely. 


Micro leech with loop knot

After anchoring the boat, the next step is to set the depth of the fly. Make sure to use the Phil Rowley style quick release indicators. Attach a weight such as a pair of hemostats to the fly and lower the fly overboard until it hits the bottom. While holding the strike indicator in one hand, pull the leader back through the indicator one to two feet and then set the indicator position on the leader. The fly is now one to two feet off the bottom and 90% of the time, this is where the fly should be when indicator fishing.

Equipment list:

  • micro leech flies
  • small swivels
  • Scotty anchor locks
  • hemostats
  • Phil Rowley strike indicators
  • six pound fluorocarbon
  • eight pound nylon such as Maxima Ultra Green
  • 5 or 6 wt fly rod 9 to 10 feet long setup with a weight forward floating fly line