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The Infamous Maribou

by

Eugene P. Macri Jr.

 

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© 2017 E. P. Macri Jr

 

The Maribou (or Marabou as some spell it) streamer is one fly that fly anglers seem to either love or hate. The reason for this is because many fly anglers have a disdain for streamers and streamer fishing. They equate such fishing as kin to bait or minnow fishing, and consider it beneath them. Some of these anglers also say the same about nymph fishing and its many incantations. That´s okay Fly Fishing: Streamer-The Black Mariboubecause most of these so called “snobs” couldn´t catch starving fish in a hatchery.

Maribou streamers are one of the deadliest flies in use. But most fly anglers don´t fish them properly. First, let me tell you that Maribou streamers can actually put the fish down if used too much or improperly! Second, most fly anglers do not know when to use them or why they should use them. Thus, these flies often just take up space in the vest.


Maribous can be fished a number of ways. The first method is to use them as a searching fly. When nothing is working or there is no hatch the Maribou comes into its own. The streamer should be spot cast through a section of water in a methodical manner. Not too many casts. Fish will often chase this streamer and not hit it. If this happens you there are number of options. One, go to a smaller size. Two, quickly tie on a nymph, and fish it where you located the trout with the streamer. Three, put a dropper wet fly in front of the streamer. In this case the streamer is basically used as a locator. But you can also use the streamer to take large fish in high, or heavy water. In these instances, repeated casts may work. Most fly anglers fish this streamer too quickly. That´s right too quickly. Meat grinder retrieves will work sometimes but in hard fished streams go with a smaller pattern, and fish it slowly with a hand retrieve or even like nymph...upstream and down. Constant casting with large maribous in shallow water can sometimes put the fish down. I´ve watched this occur numerous times over the last 30 years! Make sure your rod tips is down in order to consistently hook fish


You can tie any standard streamer pattern by using maribou instead of the regular materials, and they work very well. However, the three best patterns for maribous seem to be White, Fly Fishing: Streamers-Yellow/White MaribouBlack, and Yellow...plus combinations of these. These flies are easy to tie and look terrible but they do the job. Because they look fine and have great action when wet. I like simple tinsel bodies either gold or silver on my maribous. I also add a little red maribou in the throat and shoulder regions on some patterns. Peacock swords on the dorsal side of the fly give a good look and add to the minnow-like appearance.


You should tie these patterns in sizes 14 3xl to size 6 3xl to 4xl. The small ones are deadly in low clear water although most anglers seldom carry them. These patterns must be fished with shot or weight to get down. Some anglers weight the bodies. Here´s a little fly tying trick. Maribou tends to wrap around the hook shank and twists when it gets wet. To stop this from happening tie in a little calf tail before tying on the maribou.

Make sure your leaders are strong enough to take the strike because trout sometimes hit these flies very hard. You want at least 4x or stronger. On smaller flies in low water go down to 5x but be careful because you'll leave the fly in their mouth with "break their jaw" types of strikes.

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