By Kenzie Kozera

Often a staple in the box of salmon anglers across the globe, the Willie Gunn has taken on many different iterations or variations. Sporting the black, orange, and yellow, this pattern remains tied to the leader of many salmon pursuers from early season to “back end”. Marabou patterns such as the Black and Blue, Slime, Canary, and of course… Willie Gunn have increased in popularity on many Atlantic Canadian rivers. For this reason, I thought a WG themed marabou could make for a good start to a step-by-step fly tying series of blogs.


Hook/Tube: Streamer hooks with 5x-7x shank length (ie Partridge CS17), Large up-eye salmon hooks (ie 1/0), or in this example, a 1.8mm/3.0mm step-down tube set up.

Body: orange holographic mylar. 

Ribbing: medium gold oval


1st layer: orange arctic fox spun in dubbing loop and wrapped  

2nd layer: yellow marabou

3rd layer: orange marabou

4th layer: black marabou

*add flash as desired 

Step by step instructions:


Step 1: choose your chassis for the fly. Due to the length of typical marabou, longer shanked options are most suitable.


Step 2: tie the body of the fly

This step differs depending on pattern or approach of the tyer (some do not bother to tie bodies onto marabou flies).

In this example, a medium oval ribbing was placed over #12 holographic orange tinsel.


Step 3(Optional): I've noticed that in faster water flows, sparser marabou flies can "collapse" and lose there larger, pulsating profile. When tying for higher water conditions (the typical time I personally choose these flies), I've began taking a similar approach to tying intruders and placing large dubbing balls and/or wrapping some arctic fox in a dubbing loop.

Take my thoughts on this with a grain of salt, as they are a mixture of anecdotal and including input from other tyers. However, when fishing high and dirty water, the larger and more noticeable profile with this form of underwing may be helpful.


Step 4: Tie in your first layer of marabou.
*Tip*- marabou can be wispy, fluffy, and overall frustrating to wrap as hackle at times. By wetting the marabou, it becomes much easier to wrap. It will dry very quickly and I sometimes like to run a brush through it to ensure there are no trapped fibers.


Step 5: Tie in your secondary marabou hackle (in this case, an orange layer).


Step 6: Add flash.


Step 7: Add final black marabou layer.


Step 9: tie the fly onto your leader, cast it into your favourite pool or run, dig your heels in, and hold on. 



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