1. Choose a conehead and matching hook. The
four coneheads pictured here are 5/32", 6/32",
7/32" and 8/32" in diameter. Hooks shown are
Mustad 2xl size 8, Mustad 2xl size 6, Mustad 4xl
size 4, and Mustad 3xl size 2. In the smaller
two sizes I prefer a 2xl hook as this gives a
larger gap relative to the shank length.
2. Choose two marabou feathers and a mallard
flank feather. I prefer the marabou with a stem,
rather than the marabou bloods which look like
3. Tie in one marabou feather to create a tail
like a woolly bugger. Lift the butt out of the
way and bring the thread forward in several open
turns, stopping short of the conehead by an amount
equal to ¾ the length of the conehead.
4. Twist the marabou stem to create a rope of
marabou and wrap it forward to meet the tying
thread. Tie down with multiple wraps. It is
ideal if you can tie the stem down before it
gets to thick. No need to be delicate. The
marabou stem will need 6 or 8 wraps of thread
to tie it down. Snip off any excess stem and
save for step 8.
5. Wrap the thread back to the tie in point
and attach the second marabou feather, in the
same way you tied in the first feather.
6. Again, lift the butts and wrap the thread
forward to the tie off point.
7. Depending on the effect you want and the
quality of the marabou, twist or don't twist
the feather into a rope, and wrap the feather
forward. Tie down the stem with as many thread
wraps as it takes. This is not a neat operation,
as there will be marabou all over the place. Snip
off the excess stem and save for next step.
8. Locate the saved marabou butt remnants.
These will be used to create a dubbing loop
and the dubbing will be wrapped and stuffed
behind the conehead. I use the dubbing whirl
9. Create a dubbing loop with your thread.
Hold the butt remnants on top of each other,
and insert one side of feather fibers into
the loop, as shown.
10. Once the fibers are inside the loop, use
scissors to cut the stem away from the fibers.
This leaves only marabou fibers within the loop,
all lying horizontal. (Tip: I have a zip lock
bag filled with different colored marabou butts
left over from tying woolly buggers. This
provides a source for additional colors to create
a contrasting thorax on the Conehead Combo, if desired.).
11. Spin the dubbing loop until it looks like
12. Wrap the marabou dubbing behind the conehead.
Tie off with a couple of whip knots, and snip off
13. With your right hand, push the conehead
toward the rear of the hook until you have 3mm
or 4mm of bare shank in front of the conehead.
If the marabou feathers were wrapped too far
forward this may be difficult because of the
thick marabou stem. Even when done properly,
you may need to twist the conehead back and
forth to get it to move rearward. Retie the
thread (or switch to another color as I did here)
and form a ramp of thread in front of the conehead.
This locks the conehead into position and provides
a base for the mallard collar.
Warning: Be careful. Don't let your
hand slip while pushing the conehead back.
I hold the fly body with my left hand, so it
will stop my right hand should it slip. Another
idea might be to place a cork over the hook
point during step 13.
14. Tie in the mallard feather. I tip-tie
the feather. Others will prefer to tie in
by the butt. Use whatever works for you.
15. Create a collar with the mallard feather
by wrapping it around the shank. With my left
hand I stroke the feather fibers rearward during
each wrap. Tie off the feather after 3 wraps and
snip off the surplus. Don't worry if it looks
messier than what is shown here. Often you will
find that your feather barbs will angle in every
direction. We'll fix that in the next step.
16. Here's where all the sloppiness of the
errant mallard feathers will start to look
good. With your left hand, pull the fibers
rearward, training them against the swept-back
shape of the conehead. Wrap over the base of
the barbs with tying thread to create the head.
All the feather barbs will now have a sleek
attitude, angled rearward. Finish with two
3-wrap whip knots and coat the head with cement.