Designer: Mike Cole

Pattern: S.T.S Leech

Mike is a fishy dude.  He got his start in fly fishing over 25 years ago, and started tying flies when he was in his teens. Today his fly patterns account for a huge percentage of the salmon our clients hook on a yearly basis.  Not only do his patterns work exceptionally well on salmon but steelhead also go crazy for his flies.  Mr. Bodangles, the Liquid Wrench, the UV Polar Starlite, and S.T.S Leeches are all with us today thanks to Mike.  As a guide in Southeast AK, Bristol Bay, and Chile (Patagonia), Mike was able to test flies and theory daily.  Now as a key member of AFFG he gets to spend most of his time fishing local waters with his family.

About the S.T.S. Leech

The S.T.S. Leech started out in the mid 2000’s as a marabou/rabbit string leech that caught the attention of many salmon and big trout. It was the brainchild of two Oregonians that were spending their summers guiding Alaska. The original was just a straight up rabbit string leech with a marabou collar, some flashabou and Real Eyes Plus dumbbell eyes. They started tying them for the lodge that we were working at, which quickly became a staple pattern in all of the guide’s boxes. 

In those early days there were five basic colors: black, white, flesh, fuchsia and pink. The black was a great all-around color. The white worked wonders on early season char and lake trout and then again in the fall as a flesh pattern for bows. Flesh is, well flesh, and the fuchsia and pink worked silver over, but also saw some enormous trout too. When I came to work here at Alaska Fly Fishing Goods, I brought those same five colors to our bins.

We called this string leech the S&B String leech, which stands for Sam and Bean, the originators. This pattern did well, but at the same time it lacked “bin appeal.” Knowing that it needed something, I went home one night and started playing with ways to improve it. When I got to the bench and opened my fly box, I knew immediately what to do. Right next to my S&Bs were some Al Greens and Willie Nelsons, a string leech with a dubbed head invented by Wally Adams.) I knew that adding dubbing to the head would add to it both on the water and in the bin, but I wanted a little more. I then exchanged the Real Eyes for Tungsten Predator Eyes (basically the same only tungsten instead of brass) to give the fly more action in the water. With these changes, the S&Bs morphed into the S.T.S Leech which stands for Salmon, Trout and Steelhead. Salmon and trout be damned.