While most of the dry flies are tied with deer hair to make them float, the March Brown is tied with a hackle of brown partridge which is a very soft hackle and some people boost this with a standard cock hackle for float-ability. I have had a couple of March Browns in my fly box, but never used them more than once or twice.
The March Brown is a pattern which is fished all over the world and is tied in many variations. It is also tied in male and female and could represent any thing from a caddis, a mayfly dun, or as I found out, a spent fly.
I remember once in early December when we left for some salmon fishing. Working in a major sports store we don’t get a lot of free time in December, it’s all hands on deck for the Christmas rush. So when the time arrives you grab it with both hands. We went to the Rangitata River and by midday very few salmon were caught. We decided to head back and fish the Selwyn River up from Coes Ford.
Walking downstream we soon came upon fish and they were rising. Fishing a small Adams ; we sent many a fish scurrying under the willows. We must have seen twenty odd fish over a mile or so with the same result. I stepped into the river to see what the fish were feeding on. A large hatch of mayflies had occurred that morning and the spent flies had carpeted the river, so out -with the clippers and doctor a blue dun – right, this should work – wrong, off he went to join his mates.
Back to the fly box and tucked away was a March Brown. By this time we were nearly back to the car. First cast a fish had a look, second cast he took. By this time I had had that many refusals I struck too hard and snapped the cast. I think the difference was the soft hackle. It blends when wet and if it sinks could be taken for a wet emerger.
The body is hare’s fur, or there’s some very good dubbing blends on the market. The hackle is brown partridge with a tail of the same and a hen pheasant wing for the wing – the more mottled the better. The hooks size 8-14, and by adding a turn of yellow floss at the tail makes the egg sack of the female. When you spin the hackle it may be too big for the fly, trim to size. I know this is a no-no with standard hackles, but it doesn’t affect this fly. Good luck.