The marabou name comes from the marabou stork found in South Africa.
Lacy Gee, the original founder of Wapsi, was the first to sell turkey marabou as a substitute for the feathers from the marabou stork.
Lacey had been a fly tier since his boyhood in the 20' s. In the late 30's, he did a short stint as a turkey farmer where he first saw the similarity between a certain turkey feather and the African stork marabou he had been buying to tie salmon flies.
In 1946, John Dick, a friend of Lacey' s, stopped by Wapsi in Independence, Iowa. He was broke and asked to borrow $100.00. John was from Colfax, Iowa where they had a turkey processing plant. Lacey instructed John as to where the marabou was located on the bird. He gave him two mailbags and told him to make a deal with the plant and fill the bags for the $100.00. Colfax Feather was the business started by these two bags of feathers. At one time John had negotiated contracts to pick up feathers at 18 different processing plants.
Most turkeys at this time were grown on farms and then taken to a processing plant. Shortly after WWII larger commercial operations started. In fact, E. J. Schmuecker (Tom Schmuecker's father) had one of the first state-of-the-art hen houses for hybrid fowl.
The U.S. is the only country that produces white turkeys. China buys container loads of white turkey feathers looking for the large feathers that can be made into boas. The strung blood quill, wooly bugger marabou, flats and t-base feathers are by-products of the boa business. Without the Chinese, we would have to sort them ourselves. Without Lacey Gee and John Dick, we would have quite different looking and less effective flies. .....Tom Schmuecker, owner of Wapsi
Marabou is a soft webby feather usually located on the belly of the bird. It is an important feather for fly tying but is also a desired feather for the fashion industry in creating boas, for hat plumage, and edge lining of garments. Originally collected from Marabou Storks of Africa, marabou is collected almost exclusively from Turkeys today. The white marabou is dyed to a number of different colors. Barred or Grizzly Marabou is collected from Grizzly Roosters and Chickabou comes from other chickens. Both, in turn, are dyed to a number of colors also. Distributors usually tie the feathers together in a strung line.
Marabou can be used on flies in many different ways, ranging from gnarly-looking bodies, fluffy wings, to undulating tails.
The best thing about using marabou on flies is that it is relatively inexperienced and still create life-like imitations.
Once a marabou fly enters the water, it instantly comes alive, and the breathing and dancing action attracts interest from even the most lackadaisical fish.
|Blood Marabou: A belly feather with medium length barbs and small, thin stems taken from Turkeys, usually 1"-3" long. Barbs tend to be straight with less fluffiness and more even in length.|
|Marabou Plumes: A feather with a defined central stem and long barbs, usually 4"-7" long. Barbs can be uneven and fluffy. Most are from Turkeys|
|Woolly Bugger Marabou: These are usually Marabou Plumes that have been selected for dense long barbules going up near the tip of the barb.|
|Chickabou (Mini-Marabou): Small marabou feathers taken from hens and roosters along the breast, knees, and thighs. Usually barred and dyed to many different colors. Grizzly Marabou is technically Chickabou taken from a Grizzly Rooster. Finer and more delicate than Turkey Marabou. Particularly useful for Matuku Flies.|