Marabou flies – Confessions of a part-time pincher

I am a streamer fishing addict – and I like my streamers to live, breathe, pulsate and swim. Naturally I go for fly tying materials that will support this plan. Marabou is one of the materials, I just can’t do without.

Now to assume that marabou is just marabou – is the fly tying analogy of saying that a fly rod is a fly rod. You need more than one (hell you need a lot) – and you choose horses for causes.

If you are a marabou nerd you will need plumes, wooly bugger marabou (which in my opinion isn’t always the best marabou for wooly buggers:0), blood quills, chickabou and other types. I will get back to these matters in a larger theme on this blog later on.

Today I will be dealing with a tying technique that seems to raise the hackles on a lot of fly tiers: Pinching. You’ve probably tried cutting a marabou tail or wing – if not for other reasons, then just to turn tail nipping trout into hooked trout. It can save your day… but it looks like shit. A clean cut gives the impression that you’ve just misjudged the proportions of your streamer, and have had to use the last resort: Your scissors.

Even though that might be damned close to the truth, you don’t want to look like a complete novice – and that is probably the reason why some fly tiers would rather be caught surfing porn than caught pinching. It can’t be that different from cutting, can it? And you definitively don’t cut your hairvings, featherwings and (God forbid) your hackle tips.


“Well I have to come clean. My name is Michael… and I’m a pincher”


Well I have to come clean. My name is Michael… and I’m a pincher. Hey… easy now. Hang on, and I’ll explain. Pinching, in my kind of view, is a lost art form. See, there are a time to pinch and a time not to pinch. It all depends on the pattern and, more important, which kind of marabou you try to pinch. Then there is the matter of geography. It seems that some European anglers pinch a lot, especially some British reservoir anglers are notorious pinchers. Americans tend to neglect this technique. Furthermore: Anglers that are more into fly fishing than fly tying seems to have a more relaxed attitude in this matter.

That’s just the overall picture. I could track down pinchers all over the globe, and I’m pretty sure that most of these dudes get their share of trout. So for you non believers or wannabe pinchers, here is my pinching manifest.


“Don’t try to pinch your streamer flies if they are tied with a trailing
stinger hook. It really can ruin your day”
  • Don’t ever try to pinch the wrong kind of marabou. What you need is the fluffy stuff at the bottom of large plumes or woolly bugger marabou (without the stem).
  • Don’t pinch the spey-like fibers on a blood quill marabou feather – it looks absolutely awful.
  • Scissors is an absolutely no-go. Use your fingers. It is called pinching… after all. When you pinch fluffy fibers, the new tip of the fiber will get a ragged v-shaped end. If you cut – it will be square.
  • Pinch the right patterns. British reservoir lures like Booby Flies, Cats whisker, Viva and that sort of things literally ask for pinching.
  • A Woolly Bugger can be pinched, but then again – it might look better if you don’t. It all depends on the other materials and the overall shape of the fly.
  • Nearly forgot… Don’t try to pinch your streamer flies if they carry a trailing stinger hook. It really can ruin your day:0).


I will work on more statements for this list, and upgrade it along the way. Until then:


Tight lines and happy pinching

A Gartside Soft Hackle Streamer – tied with blood quill marabou. Don’t try to pinch these spey-like fibers. It would not do any good.


A Viva lure. By all means – happy pinching.


Pinching the fluffy marabou fibers give the tips a ragged v-shaped appearance. Done right – it looks natural to me.


    Joseph Duca

    (February 11, 2023 - 11:14 am)

    Thanks for the link included in the “caramel tiger” DN. You have so much good stuff on this blog that I sometimes get lost ;o) Cheers!

      Michael Jensen

      (February 17, 2023 - 4:37 pm)

      Hi Joe. Thanks for your kind feedback my friend. Cheers, Michael :0)

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