Big run on white marabou? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Big run on white marabou?

05-26-2004, 11:37 AM
Hit three different fly shops in maine today to tie some last min. flies no white marabou to be found any where! they tell me universal vice is gone out of business

05-27-2004, 09:08 AM
No way.
Damn, they have had great stuff for a long time now.

05-27-2004, 11:22 AM
try or feather dealers The price of feathers from flyshops are marked up at least twice if not three times.

05-27-2004, 01:13 PM

I've been a professional/commercial tyer for over 20 years and I have bought a lot of marabou in that time, some excellent, some good, some simply awful. For the average fly tyers, the best place to buy marabou is a fly shop because a shop wants your continued business and will not sell marabou of poor quality. Just because a particular supplier of peg-board packaged material goes out of business (Universal Vise for instance) doesn't mean a shop cannot get marabou from a different supplier. It also doesn't mean that you can't get it from a different shop.

Although Tony Hill and Ostrich (which are only some among many craft suppliers) sell marabou for less than your local fly shop, you must keep in mind that these operations generally sell larger, bulk quantities of marabou. They sell it by the yard or the pound, and not by the 1/4 oz. that most fly fishers want or need. I don't know how many have seen a pound of marabou, it is roughly a 2 gallon zip-lock bag full of a single color-far more than anyone other than a shop owner or professional/commercial tyer will ever need. Also, these are craft shop suppliers and many of the colors they sell are not water-ast, which means they will wash out or bleed in water (something we fly fishers need to be aware of).

A fly shop will either buy marabou by the pound, the once, or 1/4 oz. from a fly materials distributor (such as Hareline Dubbing for instance) because the colors are water-fast and the colors are "fly tying colors". A shop may also buy marabou from one of the craft supply distributors by the pound in white and then dye it to the colors tyers expect.

At any rate, if a shop buys dyed marabou by the pound, it will have to break it down into the 1/4 oz. or 1 oz. packages and label them with the amount and color that nearly all tyers demand. This takes time, is a labor cost, and has has the shop keeping the excess marabou in reserve stock (an expense in and of itself). If the shop buys white marabou by the pound from one of the craft suppliers, the shop will have to break it down into smaller quantities, dye it the colors needed (which takes the expense of purchasing the dyes and the know-how and time to do the dying), requires a place to dry the dyed marabou, and the time to package it into the 1/4 oz. to 1 oz. packages that are labeled with the amount and color most tyers demand.

In other words, shops are not making very much money on the marabou they are selling. And many times when a pound of marabou is purchased from a craft supplier, a lot of it is not suitable for fly tying because the feathers are too short, have too thick a stem, or have fibers too short in length. If you have a need for a pound of white marabou (remember this is a huge quantity of feathers) or think you can do better by dying white marabout to whatever color you desire (remember good dye is not cheap, a 1/2 oz. jar of quality acid dye will run $5.00) it takes more than a few dollars to acquire the dyes you need. Also, it takes more than a few minutes to dye (not to mention getting the shade you want) and more than a little time for the material to dry.

05-27-2004, 03:16 PM
where in maine?

05-27-2004, 03:18 PM
wooah. a thousand posts....

05-27-2004, 07:35 PM
Interesting stuff Flytyer, im sure that some Co. is ready to step up and take the place of U.V if they are in fact going by the way side. In my area Im fortunate to have a couple of good fly shops. Eddie I live in vassalboro and have brother that lives in Hollis fished down your way sat. and caught what I think was my largest trout on a dry It was 23 in. Big hooked jawed male, Tight lines K fly

05-27-2004, 11:58 PM

Universal Vise ceased business operations at the end of 2003; therefore, the shops that told you they couldn't get material from Universal Vise because they were not in business anymore were correct.

The Thompson Vise Company also ceased operations and closed its doors in January of this year. This means the only Thompson vises, vise jaws, and tying tools available are the ones that shops and distributors have on hand because they will not be able to get anymore.

06-01-2004, 06:41 AM
Drew did you try ? I think the Sars Virus has a lot to do with the material issue. Read this in one of the magazines. Most of the feathers are sent to China to be processed but are stop from entering the country because of the virus. Try Hunter's in New Hampshire he has a web page and some of the best Marabou around. Hope this helps.


06-01-2004, 11:27 AM
Sars virus, Now I need to invest in feather futures.
In response to flytyer:
You're right and I will no longer pick up roadkill, buy any flytying material at craft shops including gurgler foam and ez body, nor will I harvest my friends emu feathers, or buy hooks in bulk. Seriously I know what you are saying and I don't know the solution. Like all retail businesses it is hard to decide what to stock and not have a lot of dead stock hanging around and make a profit and keep your customers happy.

06-01-2004, 01:03 PM

Love your sense of humor!

I agree wholeheartedly, it is not easy for a retailer to carry what customers want because the retailer must be able to sell the materials he carries in a reasonalbe time in order to stay in business. That is why there is such a variation in the materials availble in shops in different locations in the country. The materials found in a shop in Maine are not going to be the same as one found in Montana and one in Western Washington is going to be different still simply because their area requires different flies and different materials to tie them.

That is why I was careful to say for the average tyer a fly shop is the best place to get materials. For those of us who tie thousands of flies/year, buying materials in bulk makes perfect sense. I buy my marabou in white by the pound(s) and then dye it the colors I want (with the exception of black because I use so much of black I buy it by the pound); however, it is not something I recommend most folks do since they will end up with so much marabou that they would not be able to use it all in their lifetime.

I buy hooks in bulk, almost always by 1,000 of a single size and style; however, that is far too many hooks for the average tyer. In fact, I chuckle when I see packages of 100 hooks in shops marked as "bulk". I guess that is to distinguish the 100 packs from the smaller packs of 10-25 hooks most people buy.

Like you said, there is no easy answer either for the local shop owner or the average tyer. I still think that local fly shops are the best place for the average tyer to get his materials and hooks. And don't expect a shop in Montana to carry materials for full dressed classic featherwings or spey flies. Likewise, don't expect a shop in Florida to carry materials to tie Catskill style dries. If you want to tie flies not common in your area of the country, look into buying the materials for them from a shop in an area that does use that type of fly. It is not reasonable to expect a local shop to stock some of every material, the shop would go broke or at least have a back rooom full of stock it can't sell if it did so.

06-01-2004, 07:38 PM
Over the years I have found when you find something your like and use quite a bit I buy it in bulk. SO SO SO many times a company will stop something or change the way they do something, or the company just goes bottom up. Then hunting around for a new source is a pain and sometimes takes years till I find a suitable replacement. I dye all my own stuff but black stuff. It is a hard color to do, and have found that almost all the time that companys are able to do black real well.

06-01-2004, 09:50 PM

Black is really not much more difficult to dye than other colors. However, you must use a quality dye (Fly Dye, Jacquards, Pro Chemicial and Dye, Kiton, Wash Fast are excellent acid dyes) and put 2-3 times the amount of dye as you would with other colors. For those new to dying, this means you put a teaspoon of black dye in 2 to 2 1/2 quarts of distilled water (about 2 liters if using metric). Also, since nearly all black dyes (including the ones I mentioned) are really a very dark blue-black, add some dark brown, crimson, or burgundy dye to the dye bath (use 1/4 teaspoon) to kill the blue and you will get a beautiful, deep black. Another thing that helps produce a nice deep black is using a tablespoon of 26% acidic acid crystals or a 1/2 teaspoon of hydrochloric acid (swimming pool supply houses are a good source of hydrochloric acid) to the 2-2 1/2 quart dye bath instead of vinegar to set the dye. Bring the dye bath to at least 165 degrees F (180-190 works best); but don't let it boil or you will harm the feathers or fur.

The reason most black feathers (it is especially noticeable with black marabou) have black dye come off on your fingers is because it takes a high concentration of dye in the dye bath to get a good black and you cannot rinse all of the black dye out of the material when you dye them,