Tying Mike's Marabou Humpy & Caddis Emerger

By Mike Hogue

Above: Marabou Humpy

In the September issue of Fly Fisherman, Rene Harrop had an article on using marabou as a dry fly material. Harrop in my mind is one of the most creative tiers around. His list of innovations ranges from the use of CDC, biot quill flies and now Marabou.

While initially this seems like a silly thought......Marabou? You've got to be kidding right? The use of this material raises some interesting ideas. If Harrop has an idea I think it bears listening to.

Before we tie any flies let's take a look at some the materials available. Most marabou sold is this awful loose crap about 4" long. These feathers are trash and aren't much good for anything. The stems are thick, the tips are wide and the fibers aren't even. About the only thing you can do with loose marabou is make cat toys out of it.

Strung marabou, wooly bugger marabou and marabou shorts all come from turkey. The very finest and tiny feathers are called marabou shorts. Grizzly marabou comes from chickens.One trouble with working with this material is sorting the bad ones out. Broken tips, uneven feathers or thick stems are useful only for making pillows not flies.

Feathers From L to R: Marabou Short, Grizzly Marabou, New Turkey CDC

Turkey CDC is the new feather which promises to be the next new "feather". It is selected from marabou shorts. You may also use the tip of the marabou short for the same effect. The above feathers can be used as wings, shucks or for bodies if tied correctly.

Mike's Marabou Humpy

For some folks tying a humpy is very difficult. The fibers which make the wing get mixed up with the tail and getting the right proportions correct is hard to do.

One of my major bitches with commercial fly tying wholesalers is that they are guilty of making flies which have incorrect proportions. The traditional humpy sold by Umpqua now has these giant fat bodies, stubby tails and wings with way too much hackle. A beginner sees these flies and thinks that is the way a fly needs to be made..........WRONG!..............Mayflies have thin bodies and long tails. The bodies are narrow not these awful things with stubby tails and stunted wings. A thin delicate fly is a much better imitation. Using the marabou makes the fly easier to make and much more realistic.

Hook: Kamasan B401 12-18

Thread: 6/0

Tail: Black Bear or Moose Body

Back and Wing: Grizzly Marabou or Marabou Short

Body : Floss or Thread

Hackle: Cree or Grizzly

In making the marabou humpy I use a full marabou short or grizzly marabou feather. I like the dun, natural, tan and wooduck gold colors. I prefer using black bear fibers for the tail as they are straight and stiff. Moose body hair is also a good choice. If you are lazy you can use colored thread for the under body.....yellow, hot pink, chartreuse, orange and red are long time favorites. Floss gives the fly some extra shine.

To tie the fly set the tail equal to the length of the hook shank. I leave 4 eye lengths open and clip off the ends of the tailing fibers.

Select a marabou feather that is long enough.......not too long and not some giant aircraft carrier sized feather. Wet the fibers of the feather by licking your fingers and pulling the feather through your fingers. It is not necessary to make the feather all wet. Just a touch is all that is needed to make working with the feather easier.

Set the feather equal to the length of the tail and the hook shank. Use this as your measuring ruler. When you find the tie in point on the feather move the feather back and tie it in above the the point of the hook with the tips facing backward. Cover the butts with thread or floss.

Fold the feather forward and tie on top of the hook shank where the tailing butts end.........Did you remember to leave the 4-5 eye lengths open? This the reason why.......Oh now I get it.

Split the wing in half. Make thread wraps in oval shaped figure eight wraps through the split wing. Hold each wing with one hand and make a few oval wraps around each side. This will separate the wings and make them firmer......Some folks have a real time with this step. If you are lazy or new you can omit this step all together.

Tie in the hackle and make 4-5 wraps and tie off.......2-3 behind the wing and 2 in front. DONE! If you work on this a bit, I think you'll find it is an easier method than messing with all of the deer hair.

Mike's Marabou Caddis Emerger

To be honest this fly is so new I haven't fished this as much as I'd like. I reasoned that the fly looks very close to the natural and it should be a very good fly.In studying Richards' "Hatches of the Muskegon" book I found the following illustration:



An emerging caddis has a long shuck, and the wings folded back. In caddis fishing Richards tells me that trout will often take emergers, egg laying females and nymphs all at the same time. This fly is an attempt to solve that all in one problem. My idea came from the old Cooper bug which is a very effective imitation of the ova-posting females. I think it is an ideal match. Let me know how this works for you as I think it is a great fly.

Mike's Marabou Caddis Emerger:

Hook: Kamasan B401 size 12-18

Tail and Back: Tan, Yellow or Olive Grizzly Marabou

Under Tail/Shuck: Golden Olive Z-lon.....white colored w/ a # 139T Pantone Marker

Thread: 6/0 to match Body

Dubbing: Tan or Olive Beaver

Legs: 2 wooduck fibers on each side trimmed short

Head: Peacock Herl

Begin by tying in the shuck. Clip some z-lon off and color with a 139T Pantone Marker. Set the shuck equal to the shank length. Tie a gold grizzly marabou feather on top of the z-lon with the tips facing backward. Fold feather back. Dub body. Pull marabou forward and tie off. Add 2 strands of wooduck to each side and clip short. Add peacock herl and finish head.


Matching colors and sizes:

Olive back, olive dubbing size 16-18

Tan Grizzly back, Tan body size 14-18

All Black back and body: size 12

Nat Dun Grizzly Back and Muskrat body 12-16

Tiny Tans: Tan back and tan body size 18-20.......for small sizes split feather in half.


Email: Mike@eflytyer.com

For more Info Contact:

Mike Hogue / Badger Creek Fly Tying / 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068

Phone: 607-347-4946