My Favorite Flies:
The Conehead Combo


My Favorite Flies



 Photos by Peter Frailey

Shown above is my favorite size and color combination for the Conehead Combo.

Ingredients for a large Combo:

Hook: Size 4, 2xl
large size, or 7/32" diameter
Tail: Two marabou feathers
Body: Two marabou feathers, twisted and wrapped
Thorax: Marabou feather fibers, applied with a dubbing loop
Collar: Mallard flank feather


For complete tying instructions for a large Combo, see where the Combo was posted as a "Fly of the Week" in April, 2005

For some background on this fly, read Flies With a Story: The Conehead Combo


I plan to experiment this season with some lighter colored medium-sized Combos, such as the one pictured above.

Ingredients for a medium Combo:

Hook: Size 6, 2xl
medium size, or 6/32" diameter
Tail: One marabou feather
Body: One marabou feather, twisted and wrapped
Thorax: Marabou feather fibers, applied in a dubbing loop
Collar: Mallard flank feather


Step-by-step Instructions for a medium Conehead Combo:

Hook and Thread: Since I use these flies primarily to fish deep in rivers, I prefer the hooking ability of a bigger gap.  Here is a size 6 2xl Mustad R72.  I use 3/0 Danville thread mostly, but flat-waxed Danville is also suitable.  Note some of the shank behind the conehead has been left bare of thread.

Tail: Tie in one marabou feather. The tail shown here is about as long as the hook shank.  I am using an amber-colored blood feather of rather poor quality.  About five wraps of thread should hold it.

Bobbin Placement: Lift the marabou butts up and out of the way.  Wrap the thread forward to a few millimeters behind the conehead, as shown. Let the bobbin hang.

AbdomenTwist the marabou stem between your thumb and first two fingers, creating a "chenille" of marabou.  Wrap it forward to where the thread is hanging.  Tie off with 4 or 5 wraps.  Snip off the excess stem.

(Suggestion: To make the fly more secure, coat the top of the thread base with some thick head cement or nail polish before wrapping the marabou forward. Each wrap will swirl the cement around the shank for a good bond.)

Bobbin Placement: WIth one or two open wraps, take the thread back to approximately the middle of the body. Let the bobbin hang.

Thorax Step #1: Make a dubbing loop with the thread. Take two 1- to 1 1/2-inch stem-lengths of marabou, and stack the two pieces on top of each other. Insert into the dubbing loop.

Thorax Step #2: With scissors, cut off the stem, leaving only the barbs from the two left halves of feather. (Save the other two halves for your next fly.)  With your fingers, slide the marabou barbs left or right within the loop depending on the result you want. You could also slide the barbs to the right and cut off more of the butts.  The choice is yours.

Thorax Step #3:  Spin the dubbing loop until you have made a nice "rope" of marabou fibers.

Thorax Step #4:  The thorax is created by wrapping the marabou rope forward in four or five wraps. Tie off behind the conehead.  I make two 3-wrap whip knots using a whip-finish tool. Cut off the thread.  (Don't fret if you tie down some of the barbs. I won't make a difference.)

Conehead Placement: With damp fingers, stroke the marabou toward the rear.  With your right hand, push the conehead away from the eye. You will likely need to coax the conehead to move by using a slight side-to-side twisting motion with your right hand. You will be compressing the marabou dubbing behind the conehead. The result should be about 3 millimeters of bare hook shank behind the eye. Using the same or different thread, prepare a slight build-up of thread to lock the conehead in place.

Collar Step #1: Over the thread base you just created, tip-tie in a mallard feather of a darker or contrasting color.

Collar Step #2: Wrap the feather forward in 3 or 4 tight wraps. Tying off a mallard feather is a bit cumbersome (for me at least).  The stem twists and gets thicker.  I typically tie off by pulling the stem away from me, on the far side of the hook (see below for a top view). Here the feather stem is being jammed tight to the far side of the hook eye.  I make four wraps before cutting off the butt.

Head: Wrap the thread back and forth over the barbs until the head is the size you want. The mallard fibers will slope gently toward the rear of the fly.  Cut off  the thread after making  two 3-wrap whip knots. Coat head with clear nail polish.



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