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Thread: Working with Marabou and Hackle.

  1. #1
    Member ak_logan's Avatar
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    Default Working with Marabou and Hackle.

    I just recently started tying havn't tied sense i was a kid. Well Hackle and marabou have been really giving me a tough time. Ive watched a lot of videos on youtube but none really address this.

    Been trying to add collars basically and i just can not seem to get it to wrap right. always seems to clump or looks terrible. i could be being way to picky or what not but who knows.

  2. #2

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    are you tying the hackle in by the tip?

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    Member kenaibow fan's Avatar
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    use less material and spread it out for the marabou. When using hackle you have to make sure the hackle is vertical when the shank of the hook is horizontal. You can start with the tip of the hackle or the tail depending on what you want it to look like.

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    Member cube01's Avatar
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    Pick up a copy of 'Fly Tying Made Clear and Simple' by Skip Morris.. The second lesson deals with Marbou and Hackle, and is what got me started... Seriously a great book to learn from and to keep around as a reference years later...

    http://www.amazon.com/Fly-Tying-Made...0296011&sr=8-1

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    In your position, if I'd tried YouTube and some other things already without progress, I might just tie 4 hooks up, using a different variation each time. I'd palmer spiral some hackle up the shank (after dressing the hook shank with thread), then wrap a collar using the same variation:
    1). Tie in tip, shiny side up
    2). Tie in tip, shiny side down
    3). Tie in other end, shiny side up
    4). Tie in other end, shiny side down

    Keep track then study the finished appearance of your hackle.
    Good luck.

  6. #6
    Member jockomontana's Avatar
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    6X offers good advice there... sometimes its good to see just the effect of material without the clutter of the whole pattern...

    also, material comes in a wide range of quality these days... and different types... hen hackle, saddle hackle, grizzly soft hackle... blood marabou, bugger marabou, chickabou, etc... then there's variation within the batch and quills of different thickness and fullness... be selective.

    I recently got frustrated with a similar problem and realized it was simply a matter of not having the right material... time to add another few dollars to the tying collection, I suppose.

    good luck!

  7. #7
    Member ak_logan's Avatar
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    Ok so i tied a few more tonight. Excuse the poor pictures. iPhones do not take good close up pictures. Kinda get the idea so far. With the hackle when i wrap it forward do i need to worry about the bottom side that goes against the hook or just focus on the top? With the marabou i try and keep the material pulled back as i palmer it forward so when its wrapped it all lays back.





  8. #8

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    One thing that I find helpful when tying collars or palmering maribou is to "pre-direct" the fibers before I wrap them. To do this, I tie in by the tip with the shiny side down. Then I carefully pull the feather taught. While holding the feather with one hand, I run my scissors along the stem of the feather to bend the feather fibers back into a v shape. This won't help when palmering hackles on wooly buggers, but should help with anything else. I have found that sometimes it can be very hard to palmer bulk strung hackles. That really stopped being a headache when I bought a couple of saddles.

  9. #9
    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    First of all - what you're tying above looks fine to me. They'll catch fish. Nice work!

    Some great advice above. I would definitely take 10 minutes to experiment with what 6x was saying.

    Generally, when you're tying dry flies you're going to tie in the feather by the stem/base with the shiny side down so the dull side is forward when you wrap the hackle. For tying wet flies or streamers on the other hand, you want to tie in by the tip so with the shiny side up. This puts the shiny side forward when you palmer the hackle towards the head, and also results in the fiber length increasing as you get closer to the head... this gives a nice profile for a wooly bugger.

    As jocko and border collies said, the material you're using may be part of the headache. But generally, I feel that with some practice you can make just about any hackle look good. I use everything from strung hackle to saddles to schlappen to $100+ cape hackle just based on what result I want to see.

    Some tips:

    Don't rush, don't get frustrated, take your time, and things will come together better.

    After you tie in the marabou tail, get your fingers wet (glass of water - or as I usually go, a bit of spit) and slick the marabou back and out of your way. Then you're not fighting it with the next steps.

    It depends on the hackle you're using to some degree, but before you tie in the saddle hackle by the tip, stroke the feather against the grain and try to fold the hackle fibers together, similar to what border collies was saying - prep the hackle.

    With each wrap of your hackle, stroke/direct everything back towards the tail of the fly.

    When palmering/wrapping marabou as a collar, you do the same thing - tie in by the tip. But after every wrap you'll probably need to take a bodkin to separate and free the fibers as you go because they'll have a tendency to get caught up/wrapped under the rest.

    It sounds like you're on the right road - it just takes practice. I've been tying for 23 years now, and I'm still learning new techniques, improving other techniques, and in generally getting better (or at least I hope so!)

    To answer your question - the hackle should look the same on the top, bottom, and sides of the fly.
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

  10. #10

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    I tie alot of maribou, and I had to figure it all out......just a couple additional comments from the pictures:

    -on stuff like the orange/pink thing - use much less material as kenaibow says, and get the maribou ends a little bit better evened up, or even longer on top than underneath; ditch the black (thread or hook) on a bright fly head like that; find some orange or pink thread and a nickel-plated hook; and use that Tiemco brand that has just a smidgeon of bend in the shank - not a straight shank like the Gamakatsu's in the packs. I wouldn't put any weight on this type of fly. And then learn about the different kinds of materials that jocko talks about and get the right stuff. Some of it is sold separately, some of it together, there's different qualities, and so forth - and so , personally, because of the variations - I always buy this stuff in person; never on the internet. It doesn't have to be expensive, and alot of this stuff is not.

    -the ESL's and wooly buggers - everything Wyo2AK says about hackling and a little bit more on exactly where and how to tie it in in the first place; re-read it all carefully; you'll figure it out eventually; the way I did is by buying flies that looked really good and carefully taking them apart - since I don't live up there and no-one ties this stuff here.

  11. #11
    Member kenaibow fan's Avatar
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    These are all good points to follow........and though I am no master at this by any means, your flies look pretty good to me. The more you tie the better they will look, it is just that simple. And like some one on here pointed out when you want to learn a new fly go buy one that looks good and check it out to see how they did what and were, then tie your own. It is so much easier doing it that way for me then looking at a book. But your flies look good, keep up the god work.

  12. #12
    Member G_Smolt's Avatar
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    All good advice above.

    I just have one concept to add, and that is feather culling. The average bag of strung hackle and schlappen has very few high-quality quills in it, a lot of B and C quills, and a few duds that aren't fit to use anywhere on a fly. Lots of folks grab the first feather their fingers touch and just start wrapping

    Feathers need to be selected, not just grabbed willy-nilly.

    I say this because the hackles on both the black bugger and the purple egg-sucker are far too short to be using on such a fly - the "fluffy" barbules at the head of the fly are a dead giveaway. Now, will this cause fish to not eat the fly? Of course not. Will this affect the way the fly looks, and perhaps skew the tier's percieved ability to "tie the fly right"? Most certainly.

    SELECT YOUR FEATHERS. Make sure they will be long enough to complete a wrapping task. Look for missing barbules, clips, or anything else that deem a feather a "cull". Select for quill stiffness as well - proper quills will wrap, thick quills will break.

    PREP YOUR FEATHERS. Pick off the fluffy barbules at the bottom of the quill, break the barbule hooks on schlappen and cheap hackle (velcro hooks work awesome for this), back-comb the quills to separate the barbules, and fold before you wrap.

  13. #13
    Member cube01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G_Smolt View Post
    All good advice above.

    I just have one concept to add, and that is feather culling. The average bag of strung hackle and schlappen has very few high-quality quills in it, a lot of B and C quills, and a few duds that aren't fit to use anywhere on a fly. Lots of folks grab the first feather their fingers touch and just start wrapping

    Feathers need to be selected, not just grabbed willy-nilly.

    I say this because the hackles on both the black bugger and the purple egg-sucker are far too short to be using on such a fly - the "fluffy" barbules at the head of the fly are a dead giveaway. Now, will this cause fish to not eat the fly? Of course not. Will this affect the way the fly looks, and perhaps skew the tier's percieved ability to "tie the fly right"? Most certainly.

    SELECT YOUR FEATHERS. Make sure they will be long enough to complete a wrapping task. Look for missing barbules, clips, or anything else that deem a feather a "cull". Select for quill stiffness as well - proper quills will wrap, thick quills will break.

    PREP YOUR FEATHERS. Pick off the fluffy barbules at the bottom of the quill, break the barbule hooks on schlappen and cheap hackle (velcro hooks work awesome for this), back-comb the quills to separate the barbules, and fold before you wrap.
    I agree 100% with what Smolt is saying here.
    In looking at the first two pictures, it's obvious that the feathers used are not ideal for that purpose.

    It may help to post a picture of the saddle or bag of hackle that you are using - it may be the wrong kind for using it this way. Or you may just need to be more selective like Smolt suggested.

  14. #14
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    It's so true about experience and flies. Over Christmas I coached a new family member through her first fly. She did great, but watching her I remembered how tricky it was to get the hackle or maribou out of the way with one hand while coordinating string tension and wrap with the other hand. So many small things we learn along the way that contribute to either a neater fly, or to a finished fly that does more what we want.

    To this end, I like to get flies wet when tying something new. Maribou comes alive in the water. I like rabbit strip tails too for that reason. And it's often the movement IMO that makes a fly turn the fish on. What stevesch suggested about more/less maribou would be a good place to start - tie one with less and see what it looks like in the water.

    Have fun, man.

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    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    G Smolt's advice is golden.

    Often I spend more time choosing and prepping the right feather than I actually do tying it into the fly.
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

  17. #17
    Member ADUKHNT's Avatar
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    I do not know where you are located but just spending a few minutes with George during the Saturday fly tying get together at Three Rivers in Wasilla is priceless. Stop by if you have time.
    I have such a hard time trying to decide which outdoor activity to do every chance I get!! Living in AK is a mental challenge

  18. #18
    Member ak_logan's Avatar
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    Im in kenai or i would make time to go to one of the tying get togethers.

    thanks for all the advice. working on snowmachines today for some reason so didnt have time to sit at the vise should be able to get it tomorrow unless i run down to mid river and throw a line.

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