History of Marabou
by Tom Schmuecker, owner of Wapsi

The marabou name comes from the marabou stork found in South Africa.

Lacy Gee, the original founder of Wapsi, was the first to sell turkey marabou as a substitute for the feathers from the marabou stork.

Lacey had been a fly tier since his boyhood in the 20′ s. In the late 30’s, he did a short stint as a turkey farmer where he first saw the similarity between a certain turkey feather and the African stork marabou he had been buying to tie salmon flies.

In 1946, John Dick, a friend of Lacey’ s, stopped by Wapsi in Independence, Iowa. He was broke and asked to borrow $100.00. John was from Colfax, Iowa where they had a turkey processing plant. Lacey instructed John as to where the marabou was located on the bird. He gave him two mailbags and told him to make a deal with the plant and fill the bags for the $100.00. Colfax Feather was the business started by these two bags of feathers. At one time John had negotiated contracts to pick up feathers at 18 different processing plants.

Most turkeys at this time were grown on farms and then taken to a processing plant. Shortly after WWII larger commercial operations started. In fact, E. J. Schmuecker (Tom Schmuecker’s father) had one of the first state-of-the-art hen houses for hybrid fowl.

The U.S. is the only country that produces white turkeys. China buys container loads of white turkey feathers looking for the large feathers that can be made into boas. The strung blood quill, wooly bugger marabou, flats and t-base feathers are by-products of the boa business. Without the Chinese, we would have to sort them ourselves. Without Lacey Gee and John Dick, we would have quite different looking and less effective flies.

  • Fluid, Lifelike Breathing Action
  • Wide Range of Colors and Types
  • Many Uses