The Ozark Mountain Streamer

This simple fly, which requires only basic tying skills, will impress the fish and your friends.

[by Mike Hogue]

FOR MANY YEARS, MY FATHER AND I FISHED TOGETHER in Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri. Roaring River State Park, locate din the Tom Sawyer National Forest, was one of our favorite places to visit. The Roaring River is one of Missouri’s infamous “trout parks” in which you buy a daily tag to fish, and the number of trout that are stocked is based upon prior tag sales.

We really learned to love this place when we discovered that following a holiday weekend, up to 10,000 fish might be stocked in a single day. While I am not a fan of stocked fish, it gave us a thrill to sight-cast to fish in the clear spring waters.

One of my father’s favorite patterns evolved out of a very simple fly that was sold in Roaring River Lodge. My father is a bit of an old fox, and he has humbled a fair number of very accomplished anglers by using their flies and tackle to catch very large fish when no one else could.

Usually, when we fished the Roaring River, he’d begin by asking, “Give me one of those black-and-yellow things—something I can see.” If he’d break the fly off on a fish, he would run up to the lodge and buy a few more streamers.

Those streamers were really nothing more than a few clumps of marabou twisted around the hook, and I thought they were actually were a little crude. I later discovered that these simple marabou-winged streamers are actually a very traditional, old pattern that has been used in the Ozarks for generations.

Many of the guides in this region used this type of pattern in local waters to catch native smallmouth bass long before trout were stocked. The pattern has great motion when cast down-and-across stream; pausing and then stripping the fly, will make it dance and pulse in the water, causing fish to strike.

After several trips, I began anticipating my father’s need for these flies and started dressing them up a bit. The artist inside me couldn’t make a crudely tied fly, so I adapted several ideas from old New England streamer and salmon patterns. After experimenting, I discovered the wonders of a stacked-wing marabou fly.


HOOK: Mustad 79580 or 9672, or Daiichi 1720, sizes 8 to 4.
THREAD: Red and black6/0 (140 denier).
TAIL: Red hackle fibers.
RIB: Medium flat gold tinsel.
WING: Black and yellow blood marabou.

Tying Mike’s Ozark Marabou Streamer
More than Marabou

You can use this tying technique on almost any bucktail streamer to create a fresh pattern with traditional designs. Flies like Dace, Shiners, and other meaty fare take on a whole new look with layered wings; the ingredients are inexpensive, easy to locate, and don’t require much skill to use once you’ve learned how to manage and work with the material.

The hardest part in building this fly is selecting the correct materials. I use blood marabou; it comes in packages at your local fly shop. The tips must be straight and the ends clean with no chips, bumps, or twisted edges. Ideally, the feathers have very thin stems. When sorting through marabou, maybe 20 to 30 percent of the package is usable. Select the straight feathers with even tips; save the remaining feathers for tying other flies.

I tie the wing using the exact center of the feather. Hold the feather by the tip, and stroke the fibers down. (I sometimes lick my fingers and then stroke the fibers.) Pinch off the excess base fibers before tying the wing to reduce bulk and make a slim, professional-looking thread head.

Mike Hogue owns a fly tying outfit called Badger Creek Fly Tying. He lives in Upstate New York in a 200-year-old restored farmhouse with his wife and collection of cats, dogs, and birds. You can find Mike on the Internet at www.eflytyer.com.