As the name suggests, this particular wet-fly is tied to represent the large upwinged fly of the same name, which hatches during early spring on a few rainfed rivers in the UK and Ireland.
For an insect with such a restricted range, it might seem surprising that its imitation has become so popular. However, one look at the artificial March Brown and one can see all the hallmarks of a great fly pattern.
With a body of dubbed hare’s fur, a hackle of brown partridge and a mottled, brown wing of hen pheasant, the March Brown works extremely well at suggesting a whole range of aquatic invertebrates. Shrimp and hoglouse spring to mind but the subtle brown hues give the fly the appearance of being something very edible so it works well even when the fish are feeding on nothing in particular.
There are quite a few variations of this pattern, the most widely used being a silver bodied version. Other than that, only minor tweaks are evident with a yellow thread rib instead of the gold wire used here.
The pattern can also work well when tied as a spider with a plain collar hackle and no wing, or as a nymph where the wing is applied as a mere stub.
Hook Size 12-14 wet-fly Thread Brown
Tail Brown partridge hackle fibres
Rib Fine gold wire Body Dark hare’s fur
Wing Hen-pheasant secondary feathers
Hackle Brown partridge
1. Fix the hook in the vice and run the thread down to the bend in close turns. Catch in a few fibres of brown partridge plus two inches of fine, gold wire.
2. Cover the waste ends of the partridge fibres and wire with close turns of thread. Take a pinch of dark hare’s fur and offer it up to lightly waxed tying thread.
3. Using a finger-and-thumb twist, dub on the hare’s fur to form a thin rope. Wind the fur along the shank in close turns.
4. Carry on winding the dubbed hare’s fur along the shank until it is a short distance from the eye. The aim is to create a body that tapers slightly toward the tail.
5. Take hold of the gold wire and wind it over the body in open, evenly paced turns. Five or six turns are ample for a fly of this size.
6. Secure the wire and remove the excess. Then select a well-marked brown partridge hackle. Catch the hackle in, by its tip, just in front of the body.
7. Holding the stem base of the partridge feather with hackle pliers, wind it on for two or three full turns.
8. Secure the stem in place with tying thread and then remove the excess. Stroke the feather fibres back so that they sit around and beneath the body.
9. Choose two well-marked henpheasant secondary feathers taken from opposite wings. Remove two slips of equal width.
10. Place the slips together so that their tips are level. Hold the prepared wing on top of the hook and fix it in position with two or three winging-loops made with the tying thread.
11. Once happy that the wing is sitting upright, fix it in place with further tight turns of tying thread. Carefully remove the excess feather with sharp scissors.
12. Cover the butts of the hen pheasant feathers to form a small, neat head. Finally, cast off the tying thread with a whip finish.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO FISH
W H E R E
Although the natural March brown is only found on a few rivers in the UK, the artificial has a far more general use. It is a superb fly on most stony, rainfed rivers with a good flow rate.
W H E N
As an out-and-out imitation, the March Brown is at its most effective when the naturals are hatching during late March. However, it will take fish throughout the season even on waters that don’t support that insect species.
H O W
In its standard, winged form the March Brown is normally fished on a floating line either singly or as part of a team. If it is used with other flies, it is usually fished on the point of the leader. Standard tactic is to fish it downand- across, allowing the fly to swing steadily round in the current.
T Y I N G T I P
When using a game bird feather — such as partridge — as a hackle, the thickness of the stem means that it must be caught in by its tip.