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Am interested in learning to tie streamers with better head. Many commercial ties feature a tan, almost solid head. Even when the head consists of marabou. Any suggestions?

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When you say "head", are you referring to the final wraps of thread placed just behind the eye of the hook? I'm a little confused by "tan, almost solid...". Can you post a photo or explain a little further?

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Tried to add a picture but having a seƱior moment - here's the link

16-6-im-Flyoftheweek_Image-7078.jpg

Here is a sample of what I'm talking about - it's from Maine Guide shop - note the small and smooth head - during the tie, the marabou is tied forward and then wrapped back creating the head - note on their's it's small and shiny - and when asked, said it was just a lot of lacquer layers.

When I tried to do the tie, the marabou wasn't smooth but rather a bumpy mess. Not sure what step I must be missing to create this fly head.

Here are the tying instructions From Maine Guide Fly shop:

Hook - Mustad 94720 #2-4
Daiichi 2220 #2-6
Thread - Red for the butt and collar
White while tying on the wing and throat
Body - X-small E-Z Shape body material
Throat- White marabou
Wing - Pearl Krystal Flash over which is gray marabou

Make the body using red thread on the butt and white thread on the head. Lacquer the entire length of the body. E-Z shape body material is extremely tough but lacquering the threads and body will allow it to hold-up even longer.
Wet the white marabou to made it more manageable, measure it the length of the hook then tie it down but facing away from the hook. You'll bend it back over the hook and tie it down later. Now do the same with your gray marabou over which will go 8-10 strands of pearl krystal flash, all tied forward of the hook using white thread so it won't show through the finished product.
Attach red thread to tie the feathers down, bend back the gray marabou and krystal flash and attach to the hook, you'll only need a few wraps. Do the same with the white marabou. The red thread makes a nice collar. If the marabou is too fluffy and not very manageable just wet your fingers then wet the feathers a bit. You'll find it will be easier to work with. Finally lacquer the head a number of times to give it a glossy finish you will be able to paint eyes on. You can also stick holographic eyes on in between final coats of lacquer.
Make sure you stand in the shadows when you tie it on so fish won't jump out of the river after it. I'm not kidding, the Mitchell Creek Marabou is one of those unbelievably productive flies. I rank it up there with the Gray Ghost.

.

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TallBob - I've tied those. I used to use Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails. The trick is that on your first coat you need to lay all the fibers down flat, stroking them towards the back with a bodkin. Then let that layer dry completely. After it dries put a couple more coats and you should be good. I now use UV epoxy, same method and result but much faster. Also important to pull the fibers tight and even when you tie them back over the head. Loose fibers will make it impossible to get the look you desire. And just an FYI, the fish care much less about a neat head than we do ;)

Here is the picture from Maine Guide Fly Shop:

16-6-im-Flyoftheweek_Image-7078.jpg

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Been off for a while - I'll give your suggestions a try - BTW, seems that I need to invest in epoxy - that seems to be the way a lot of patterns have gone - suggestions re how to get started?

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I like Clear Cure Goo, get the "Thin" epoxy for fresh water flies. You also need to buy the light to cure the epoxy. The Loon product is also good.

http://www.clearcuregoo.com/page1/page3/page3.html

http://www.clearcuregoo.com/page1/page10/page10.html

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Scott Patterson over on the Drake is trying to get his dozens (hundreds?) of step by steps organized in one place; and while I wouldn't recommend actually posting I do think his thread is worth checking out. The quality is good enough for a book in my opinion. Enjoy.

http://www.drakemag.com/message-boards/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=27028

Same flies and SBS's listed by name:

http://www.mediafire.com/view/7xxxwx7adrer5s4/Drake_SBS.xlsx

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