Introduction: How to Tie Your Own Marabou Jigs

Everyone has their own hobby; something they are good at and enjoy to do. Mine happens to be fishing. I've been fishing since I could walk. It first started as a few times a year with my grandpa and dad. Now, hardly a week goes by that I'm not out on the water wetting a line. Typically I am accompanied by my little brother(s). This adds to the enjoyment and obviously fosters competitiveness as well. About 6 years ago the competitiveness grew profoundly. We all learned to tie our own marabou jigs so anytime we would trout fish it wasn't just about who was the better fisherman anymore, it was also about who was the better "fly-tier." While my brothers do catch lots of fish, I almost always out-fish them, both in numbers and size. For now, I hold an edge over them with my few more years of fishing experience and my hours of practice tying my own flies.

Step 1: Collect Materials

In order to tie your own marabou jigs, you need little specialized equipment: a c-clamp vise, a bobbin, thread, hooks, head cement, and marabou. The easiest way to get this equipment is to buy a fly tying kit. A basic one will come with everything you need for almost any kind of fly. It will cost around $30, which is well worth it after you catch your biggest fish.

Step 2: The Setup

Start by attaching the vise to some sort of tabletop. Any kind will work fine as long as the clamp fits. You want the vice and hook to be closest to your dominant hand. So if you are right-handed (like me) you want where the hook goes to be closest to your right hand. This allows you to favor your dominant hand while tying. Next, place the thread into the bobbin and thread it through the bobbin eye. Take your hook, whatever size you want, and clamp it into the vice on the curve of the hook with the barb on the bottom. Typically I use #12 hooks when tying unweighted marabous (as in this project) for fly fishing or 1/32 oz jig heads when spin casting. For beginner fishermen, I would recommend spin-casting with a weighted jig. While there are nearly unlimited sizes of hooks, these sizes are the most versatile for catching all kinds of fish.

Step 3: Pre-Wrap the Hook

Before you begin tying your jig you must cover the hook with thread to make a barrier between the abrasive hook and the delicate marabou. Take the end of the thread and wrap it once around the hook shaft just below the eyelet (hole in the hook) leaving some excess. Then, continue to wrap the thread down the hook over the excess string until you get just past the barb. Once you get here, reverse the direction and come back up to the eyelet. Cut off the excess string hanging off the end of the hook, but LEAVE THE BOBBIN ATTACHED!

Step 4: Picking Your Marabou

To make your jig look appetizing to fish, you have to find the right colors and the right length. Each and every color works in specific conditions. Fish sometimes strike instinctively so bright colors can catch their attention, especially young ones. However, for larger, wiser fish, I find that darker, natural colors work best. You want your jig to look like something they typically eat. Different combinations of shades of green and brown are my go-to. Pictured here is olive. After you choose what color you want, you need to decide the length. I usually go around 1 inch but again, on given days shorter or longer can work better. Take about one marabou feather and pinch it about one inch from the end. Cut it here and remain holding the end.

Step 5: The Tricky Part

Place the marabou on the hook with the end you cut on the eyelet. While keeping the marabou in place, wrap the thread around the marabou a couple times to hold it in place. This is the hardest part of the project. It's easy to drop marabou and getting a good first wrap is key because you want the marabou evenly distributed around the hook. Pro tip: If you drop any marabou, its easier to re-cut different marabou instead of trying to reattach the fallen feathers. Then once the marabou is attached, continuously wrap the thread down the hook shaft until you get about half of the way between the eyelet to the hook point. Then reverse direction and go back to the eyelet. Repeat this process until there is no marabou showing through the thread.

Step 6: Sealing the Deal

After the marabou is wrapped on, all that is left to do is to glue the string so it doesn't unravel. Jig head cement is made for this purpose, but it's a bit expensive. A little hack is to use nail hardener instead. It is common in most homes and cheaper than head cement. It works just as well because it is waterproof and has many of the same properties of head cement. Take a small drop of nail hardener or head cement and place it on the thread. Wait a few seconds for it to dry. Then, cut off the thread from the jig as close as possible to where its glued in place. Any excess thread will cause the entire thing to unravel later.

Step 7: Variations

You have completed your first ever marabou jig and are ready to get on the water. If you are ready for a slightly more difficult test, you can tie a two-toned jig. All of the steps are the same, except take two feathers of different colors and cut them together and then place it on the hook to tie. Like any new skill, you may struggle at first, but you will get better with practice.

Step 8: Fishing Your Jigs

Now that you have your own jigs, you will need to learn how to fish them. It is extremely difficult to explain through words, but you can find countless videos online on how to fish with a jig. There are many different techniques, and everyone has their personal favorite. You must find your own. I can offer some general fishing advice though. Use your instincts; judge how the fish reacts to the action of the jig. Try new things and get creative; you never know what will work. It will get frustrating but you will learn as you go. Personal experience is the best way to figure out what works. Soon, with practice, you will be able to bolster your arsenal of jigs and tackle the biggest and baddest of fish. Good luck!