The Whiskey Fly

The whiskey fly. This variant of the bugger pattern created by Bob Nasby of Minnesota has effectively replaced woolly buggers in my fly arsenal. The name is from the natural turkey marabou used to tie nearly all of the fly. Standard marabou and chenille can be used to tie the fly in a variety of colors, beads, flash to customize as you like. However, I have found that the natural turkey has worked best. I will show you the two variants I tie and use.


Hook: #6 - #10 wet fly/streamer hook

Tail: Wild turkey marabou, about the length of the hook shank

Body: Wild turkey marabou, wrapped around the hook

Wing case(optional): any kind of flash, I like crystal.

Optional Head: Black thread or optional copper or black bead


Notes: To make the body, tie in a clump of marabou ahead of the tail. I strip a piece of the marabou much like you can strip pheasant fibers off the quill. Twist the marabou to make a "dubbing," then wrap forward. The loser the twist, the longer/more unkempt this quasi dubbing will look. You can trim it if it looks too uneven for your liking but I don't think the fish care. Not all natural turkey marabou is the same color, so I try to have the collar, tail be darker pieces, and try to match tying in from a dark piece to another dark piece, or light to light so the color transition is smooth.


I only use a bead head if I am making the flash back variant. For the non bead head variant, I tie in three clumps of marabou, a shorter fibered clump, one long clump, and another short clump next to each other, and when I whip finish the thread head I try to wrap some of the thread back onto the marabou to push it back at an angle. Here is a photo of the beadhead, flash wingcase version -



Because of the nature of the marabou being so delicate and sensitive to external forces, the action it has in water is incredible. It undulates or pulses even in the most still water to subtle currents or the slowest twitches of the fly. I have fished it dead drifting, stripped, and swung like a streamer. I have caught salmon, trout, steelhead, bass, and panfish on this pattern. I would imagine it would make a great carp pattern as well.



the pyromaniac's picture

It looks like I may have a project for tomorrow, 'cuz this fly looks like a winner!  Can't wait to fish it...




Let there be fire!

johnny's picture

It is a messy fly to tie for sure.  A few flies that are somewhat similar would be a few leech patterns and a Grass Carp moss fly I ran accross on youtube.  Those patterns also palmer maribou for the body.  If you don't mind, post a pic of it when you're done, I want to see if my directions made any sense.

Just your run of the mill Orvis Boy.  Fly fishing elitist.  I cannot hear you over my false casting.  All guided trips every day.

Fishing for compliments since 88.

andy's picture

Being a turkey hunter, I honestly could fill a swimming pool with my collection of turkey marabou.  And it's great stuff.  Besides this awesome pattern, I have used it in many other applications - one of the best is my version of an egg sucking leech tied entirely with turkey marabou for the body of the fly in similar fashion to the whiskey fly.