Fly Fishers' Republic

Marabou Tail

January 19, 2007

by Raif Killips

Marabou Tail

This method of tying a marabou tail produces an even underbody and a robust pattern. I’m illustrating it so as to provide an alternative to the technique offered inĀ the other marabou article. In a situation where you could employ either technique you may find this the easiest and quickest way to go.

Tying instructions:

Toggle sequence Left/Right Handed ↔

Stage 5 making the loop

1. Start the thread two or three hook eye widths behind the eye. Run it in touching turns to the start of the bend and then run it back to the starting point.

Stage 6 finishing the loop

2. Take a good long bunch of marabou – long enough to produce the tail you’re after and run the full length of the hook shank. This may mean buying marabou bloods.

Stage 7 double the grip

3. Clip the butts with scissors to even them up. This helps ensure an even underbody.

Stage 8 shifting the grip

4. Hold the marabou on the near side of the tying in point and using a pinch and loop catch in the feather. Make two or three tight wraps of thread making touching turns toward the bend of the hook.

Stage 9 positioning the slips

5. Now slide your pinch hold on the marabou toward the bend. You’re not trying to pull the feather through the thread wraps; instead you’re aiming to keep it in sufficient tension to prevent it from twisting round the shank while you wrap the thread around the marabou and toward the bend.

Stage 10 securing the feather-slips

6. Keep the bulk of the feather at the top of the shank and make securing wraps of thread toward the bend. At the end of the thread base pull the tail upwards and make three tight and close wraps to secure the root of the tail on top of the hook. Be careful not to take the thread beyond the thread base.

Stage 11 winding the thread

7. You now have the option to cut away the marabou butts and take the thread toward the eye and back again leaving a tidy underbody (illustrated); or you can tie in other materials at the bend of the hook right now.

Stage 13 removing the waste

8. This sequence was recorded while tying this olive woolly bugger.


Marabou comes in packs labelled ‘marabou’, ‘bugger packs’, and ‘marabou bloods’. The first of these will contain a mix of feather types; bugger packs will contain a consistent bundle of feathers having moderately long barbs and thin stems; while packs marked ‘bloods’ contain feathers with long fibres and especially short thin stems. Bloods are in many respects the easiest to use for wings and tails, and have the advantage that they can also be wrapped like a hackle for patterns like the Popsicle and the Tequila Sunrise.