March Browns

A fly which I rarely if ever use in the standard format but one I like when tied in different variations. The natural does not live here in Ireland but I used to love their explosive hatches on the Aberdeenshire Don as a young angler. One minute there were none to be seen, then suddenly those big mottled duns were on the surface and the trout would be rising. I soon found out the fish might be taking March Brown’s or they could be feasting Iron Blues or Large Dark Olive, both of which were commonly on the water at the same time. Even if the trout were not actually feeding on those big brown flies just to see them was an exciting spectacle for anyone with an interest in the natural world. I wonder if they still hatch out like that around Inverurie and Kintore?

A size 14 standard dressing of the March Brown

Despite the lack of naturals the artificial March Brown is still used here in Ireland by both river and lough fishers. A passable representation of shrimps and hog louse, a sunk March Brown is popular fly on the western loughs in the spring. The standard dressing is fine but personally I like to dye the partridge hackle brown/olive.

Use sizes 10 to 14 and make the body from hare’s ear fur ribbed with finest gold tinsel. Tails are mottled fibres from a partridge tail feather or from a precious bronze mallard, with a hackle from the brown partridge body feather. Choice of material for the wings on all these flies is personal. I think I am right in saying the hen pheasant tail is the original but slips of wing feathers from the same bird are also commonly used. The tail fibres don’t stand up too well in use and even the prettiest of wings are soon shredded by the fish. No matter, these damaged flies will continue to catch you a few trout. The secondary slips on the other hand are tough and can take a lot of punishment. I use either and to be honest it comes down to what I have on hand at the time. Replacing the gold tinsel with fine flat pearl makes a lovely fly that works on both river and lough. A quick glace in my river fly boxes will show how much I like the combination of pearl tinsel and hare’s ear – I use it in many patterns and have great faith in it.

silver march brown

Silver March Browns are a useful fly for sea trout and again, they are a common sight on the leaders of lough anglers perusing migratory trout. I use a couple of versions, one is the usual solid silver tinsel bodied pattern while the other has a hare’s ear body closely ribbed with medium silver tinsel. Sizes 8 down to 12 will cover most eventualities.

Tying the same fly but changing the body material to opal mirage then ribbing it with thick black cotton thread makes a good pattern for bright weather.

Purple March Browns are a great wee fly but one I have never seen it used here. A capital pattern for the small loughs where browns or sea trout will take it well on a cold day. Simply the usual dressing but with a body made from dubbed seals fur dyed purple and ribbed with fine oval silver tinsel. If you like, you can wind a purple hackle under the partridge to give a more vibrant fly.

purple march brown

So, in summary, make up a few of the normal tying with the hare’s ear body for use on Mask or Conn early in the year and a few silver bodied lads for the sea trout.


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