The Miracle of Marabou

I’ve been tying most of my flies for the past 25 years, and I’m still not a very good at it. In fact, some might say I suck, but there’s something about fishing with flies I’ve tied myself that increases the confidence level—considering my limited skill set, I suspect this is a self-imposed illusion.

Every few years I completely change my tying habits, which usually includes materials. My first steelhead flies were marabou spiders, and seemed effective, but just not sexy enough. Then came the more traditional patterns that were immensely complicated (also effective), until the new articulated patterns started showing up. Of course I couldn’t resist the urge to spend even more time and money jumping on the articulated bandwagon.

At some point Ed Ward introduced the Intruder, which once again took the tying complication to a new level. One would think my skill set would’ve scaled with the evolutionary process of the flies themselves, but perhaps my lack of any real training, or more importantly my not wanting to sit through any, has hindered my tying skills.

Lately, I’ve put the guinea, partridge, moose, turkey, ostrich, yak, goat, pheasant, buck tail, temple dog, and rabbit on the backburner, and made room for marabou—piles of it everywhere. I’ve decided to keep the articulation for now, and also like the idea of cone heads. I’ll also add some flash, which takes about 14 seconds and seems to help.

I guess I’m paying less attention to the latest cool pattern and focusing more on the patterns that got me started. Back to the future? Hell, I don’t know, but for now I am convinced I’m hooking as many, or perhaps more, fish.

Next season? I’m already planning speed tying tests between my current lineup and the standard Wooly Bugger.


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