The Marabou Burner

By Nick Simonson

With the muskie opener at hand just to the east in Minnesota and established lakes like New Johns already going strong for the fish of 10,000 casts in North Dakota, anglers are all set for a summer of big fish action.  In just a short time, as angling pressure has risen for these fish, muskies have become tougher to catch, having gotten used to the big flashy baits that have been thrown at them for the last decade.  As a result, anglers are turning to classic in-line spinners that have been passed over in recent seasons for the giant flashabou in-lines that have dominated the market.

At one time, Mepps basically WAS the market for big fish lures and their Musky Killer line was the standard for these dedicated anglers.  With offerings in both bucktail and marabou, these lures served as a staple in the tackleboxes of muskie fishermen.  Now many are digging those old offerings out or tying up models of their own that help cover water and get hit in the process. Now dubbed “burner baits” for the ability to cast them far and retrieve them quickly to trigger reaction strikes, these smaller-bladed baits are once again big news this season.

Use long Deceiver-style hackles that are bright and full for the underskirt. Simonson Photo.

Thankfully, tying a few up only takes a matter of minutes and the marabou burner provides a unique, flowing skirt accented by smaller blades that don’t drain an angler’s energy as fast. Coming in three parts, the marabou burner has an underskirt of wet hackles, a main skirt consisting of marabou, and a shaft decorated with metal beads for weight and two size-8 blades for some pulse and flash.   Easily broken down, one can make short work of each portion and produce commercial-quality baits from home.

Base: 1” Coil of Throttle Cable
Thread: Size E, Red
Hackles: Red under Black


Start the underskirt by securing the throttle cable into the vise, utilizing a piece of wire shaft and create a thread base on the cable.  Cover the thread base with a layer of head cement for posterity (1).  Utilizing head cement after each round of skirting will ensure a strong skirt that can stand up to hundreds of casts, and multiple fish, so don’t get skimpy!

Tie in a few red hackles so they hang two to three inches back over the end, covering about one-third of the cable (2). For a unique look, pair hackles so that one points out and one points in.  Repeat the process on the other two thirds of the cable, using 12 to 15 total feathers for the first layer of the skirt, being sure to cement when complete (3).  Repeat the process with the black hackle feathers, forming the top layer of the skirt.  When done, whip finish, trim the thread and add a final layer of head cement; the underskirt is complete (4).

Base: 3” Coil of Throttle Cable
Thread: Size E, Red
Marabou: Red & Black, Strung Quills


Utilize the top of big, full marabou quills to get the most out of the main skirt, and don’t crowd each pinch as it’s tied in. Simonson Photo.

The thing to remember about marabou is that it is very flowy in water.  To avoid having the material clump up or seem unnatural when submerged, don’t use too much in each pinch of feather that gets tied into this skirt.  It should be easy-breathing, and a number of gaps will be created to help it retain its freedom of movement.

Get started by placing the larger piece of coil in the vise in the same manner as with the underskirt, and add a coat of cement (1).  Tie in the first clump of marabou, so that it hangs about two inches off the back of the coil (2).  Repeat this process so the entire coil is covered and the feathers are evenly distributed around it, securing them with a number of thread wraps and some cement (3).

For the next three segments, the marabou should be tied in at a 45-degree angle to the coil, giving some upward lift and fullness of body to the skirt.  Start with a pinch of black marabou and tie it in, angled up and to the back (4).  Repeat this process until the second segment is complete, tying everything down with enough thread and applying more head cement (5).

In the third segment, transition some red marabou in (6). Add it in between clumps of black, again angling each pinch up and to the back, securing with thread and head cement (7).  For the final segment, tie in all red marabou in the same fashion (8). When complete, form a thread head which can then be whip-finished and cemented liberally for posterity (9).  Once the cement dries, the skirt is finished and the lure can be assembled.

Shaft: Looped End .051” Shaft
Hook: 5/0 Mustad 3551 on 4H Split Ring
Skirts: Underskirt & Main Skirt
Body: Seven 1/4” .052” Hole Beads
Blades: Two Size 8 Colorado Blades & Stirrup Clevises (.052″ hole)


Start the lure by connecting the looped end of the spinner shaft with the hook via a split ring, and then cover the area with a stretch of black shrink tubing, heating the tubing so it forms around the connection area and holds the hook horizontally (1).  Begin stacking the components on the spinner shaft, starting with the underskirt, which should just cover the hook or hang out a little bit beyond it (2). Next add the main skirt, noting how the black hackle fades directly into the billowy marabou (3).

From there, thread the seven metal beads on top of the skirt, and then the two blades mounted on stirrup clevises, alternating each hole on the clevises to ensure proper alignment (4).  Finally, using a needlenose pliers, secure everything in place and form the tie in point by wrapping the wire shaft around itself four or five times (5).

With that, the marabou burner is ready to hit the water and find its mark in the mouth of a mean old muskie.  Crank them out in different colors and feel free to experiment with feather length and other materials that might make a good skirt. Drop to a single blade or add a second hook just under the beads.  Find what the fish like and find success this muskie season!

Featured Photo: The Marabou Burner in-line spinner, tied by Nick Simonson.  Compact baits haven’t been seen as much by muskies in recent years, and these easy-casting and quick-retrieving baits are less of a drain on anglers throwing thousands of casts each day. Simonson Photo)

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