The Infamous Maribou
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 because most of these so called “snobs” couldn´t catch starving fish in a
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
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, Black, 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
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.