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PUBLISHED: 11:38 AM on Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Marabou Muddlers
Fly Tying

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I don't know how you can improve on perfection. Take for example the Muddler Minnow, a fly that always makes everyone's top 10 list of great flies. However, its creator - the late Dan Bailey - continued to tinker with it until he came up with numerous modifications. One such successful mutation is the Marabou Muddler. Not only does it encompass the undulating magic of marabou, but it's also easier to tie. You still have to spin deer hair, but that tedious business with the bucktail and the matching turkey wings is gone. You can pack down as much deer hair as you want, without worrying about mangling the winging material. You can also go nuts with color combinations; mixing and matching dyed marabou feathers with dyed deer hair. As for this one, however, let's stay with natural deer hair, but we'll use olive marabou for the wing. Let's tie!

I've got a #4 9762 Mustad hook clamped into my vise. Using 3/0 black thread, I've tied in red hackle fibers for the tail and a short section of gold tinsel for the body. Be sure and leave the front third of the hook shank free of thread. We'll need the bare hook for spinning deer hair.

Select a marabou feather that's been dyed olive and place it over the shank. Tie it down where you ended the tinsel. The length of the marabou depends on the tier. I've seen them from just slightly longer than the tail, to double the length of the hook shank. You can also add a few strands of peacock or ostrich herl to the top of the wing.

Next, clip out a fat clump of deer hair and line up the tapered ends with a hair stacker. You'll want to get them nice and even. Lay the clump in front of the marabou and flare the hair with your thread - just as you would with any muddler collar. The tapered tips should end about halfway or so down the shank.

Being careful not to clip the tapered collar, cut away the butt ends and prepare another clump of deer hair in the stacker. This time trim off the tapered ends and spin the new clump in front of the collar. Repeat this step as many times as you need to in order to achieve a densely packed head. When you're satisfied, throw in a couple of half hitches behind the hook eye and give it a drop of head cement.

Remove the fly from the vise and begin shaping the bullet head with a sharp pair of scissors. This is a tedious business, so be patient. I like to roughly shape the head with scissors and then finish it smooth with a disposable razor. Head size is in the eye of the beholder.

Just like all muddlers, you can fish this wet or dry. The deer hair gives the pattern plenty of natural buoyancy, but it will eventually become waterlogged and sink. Treat it with floatant for better results. If you're going deep, add wire to this pattern, or fish it behind a sink-tip line. Happy tying! Comments: franklee825@hotmail.com


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