The March Brown Hatch

The Fly Fishing Shop HOME. * Search Catalog Trips & Schools Bargains SALE ENDED
Our Waters Order Info Steelheadquarters Events


Topics 
March Brown Hatch
Eyes On Flies
Pacific Bonito
Spey Clave 2008
All pictures are Mouse-over.

The March Brown Hatch

Nymphs Floating Nymphs Duns
Emergers, Sub-Surface Cripples Spinners
March Brown Mayfly from the book: Hatch Guide For Western Streams by Jim Schollmeyer - CLICK HERE ! March Brown Mayfly Hatches
Rhithrogena morrisoni (that's the scientific name)
Western March Browns are your first "easy-to-see" hatch of the new season.  Look for March Brown hatches on local rivers when water temperatures start reaching 42 degrees consistently. This can occur in most lower elevation water sheds in mid-
February and continues through March and early April.  Hatching March Browns can create some very exciting surface film and dry fly fishing. Hatches of duns usually start in the early after noon and spinner falls are in the late evening. 

Pounding the bottom with weighted March Brown Nymph flies can provide constant action from mid-morning into the early stages of the hatch.  The March Brown Nymph in sizes #12 & #14 will be your bread and butter fly.  However nymphal color tends to adapt to the color of the stream bed.  Most March Brown nymphs are dark, some are nearly black.  The #12200 nymph is often the ticket to success.  Sometimes your catch will increase if you thin out the legs with your leader clipper and color them with a black felt marker. Fishing two flies at once will increase your odds of hooking up.  Usually two different colors or sizes are used.  Gold Rib Hares Ear and Olive Hares Ears are valuable flies to have with you and will some times out fish the more realistic patterns.  Most March Brown Nymphs are fairly skinny #14's, but slightly larger flies can also work.  March Brown nymphs live in riffles and fast, rocky runs.  As the nymphs near maturity, they migrate to slower water. During the migration, they can loose their grip and drift in the current.  For this reason trout will congregate in places where fast riffles start to slow down and on the seams between the fast and slow water.  Fish your nymphs where the current changes speed.  Approach the water carefully.  Start by fishing the slower water first with flies that are lightly weighted.  Your flies will be most effective if they are perfectly dead drift.  Cast them slightly upstream and mend a little slack into you presentation.  As you work your way out into the faster current, add lead shot to keep your flies near the bottom.
  
As the water warms at mid-day the nymph rise toward the surface to hatch.  Some of these nymphs are intercepted by trout during this upward migration.  Try tying a March Brown Soft Hackle to a dropper 3' above your nymphs. This technique can pay extra dividends.

As the Duns begin to hatch, trout will rise to the surface to catch them.  This often produces the most visually exciting part of the day.  Big trout rising to March Browns during the peak of the hatch can be very splashy.  Often the rise starts much quieter as trout pick off the emergers just below the surface.  And some duns will emerge from the shuck slightly below the surface. At this time a March Brown Soft Hackle or Flymph fished just below the surface can be your best fly.    The Flymph is often even more effective if you add a March Brown Cripple or dry fly to  a dropper 1' to 3' from your soft hackle and fish both flies dead drift. 

March Browns and their possible related species seem to come in a variety of shades and colors.  That is why there is some disagreement between anglers fishing different watershed as to what the actual colors of March Brown Duns are.  The ones that hatch most often on the Sandy River are brown with mottled wings.  We have seen that same fly on the Deschutes and Clackamas Rivers.  On the Deschutes we have also seen spring time mottled wing mayflies the were grey wing olive.  The trout like both kinds.  Our friends that fish the McKenzie report March browns that are shades of gray.  To be on the safe side you should carry several brown patterns, a blue wing olive parachute and a Parachute Adams in dark tones.  If they are all #14 you're probably in the game.

Duns and emergers produce the best fishing, but some trout will sip spinners in the quietest of water. A March Brown "spinner fall" can extend your fishing day.  Spinner falls usually occur over faster water areas.  However they create the most reliable feeding activity if they raft up in back eddies down stream.  Sometimes the afternoon back eddy rise that you think is midge emergence is actually created by collecting dead March Brown spinners.

Best tackle to fish a March Browns is a 9' #4 or #5 weight rod with an action that works easiest at the 20' to 50' cast range.  I prefer a weight forward line that is a little on the heavy side, is a moderate color and is very clean so that it easily shoots smoothly at all ranges.  The standard 9'-5X trout leader is good starting point.  You might go to 4X if you get brutalized by big fish.  Remember the best fly is the one that is perfectly placed in a risers feeding lane. 
Have a great spring.

Nymphs Floating Nymphs Duns
Emergers, Sub-Surface Cripples Spinners

March Brown Nymph
Pounding the bottom with weighted March Brown Nymph flies can provide constant action from mid-morning into the early stages of the hatch.  The March Brown Nymph in sizes #12 & #14 will be your bread and butter fly for March Browns.  As stated above, you can chop & thin, color and texture your fly to most match the naturals.  You can capture naturals with a kick-screen.

Item Description Size Price To Top
12200-10 March Brown Nymph 10 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED
12200-12 March Brown Nymph 12 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED
12200-14 March Brown Nymph 14 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED
12200-16 March Brown Nymph 16 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED

Gold Rib Hares Ear
Nymphal color tends to adapt to the color of the stream bed.  Fishing two flies at once will increase your odds of hooking up.  Usually two different colors or sizes are used.  A Gold Rib Hares Ear is one of those flies that look like a lot of different stream bed insects.  This fly can also be a victim of markers and clippers.  Has caught many trout as-is.
Item Description Size Price To Top
12100-12 Gold Rib Hares Ear Nymph 12 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED
12100-14 Gold Rib Hares Ear Nymph 14 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED

Olive Hares Ear Nymph
Olive Hares Ears are valuable flies to have with you and will some times will out fish the more realistic March Brown patterns. Some years spring run-offs are small and weed growth starts early (this year)? 
Item Description Size Price To Top
12110-12 Olive Hares Ear Nymph 12 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED
12110-14 Olive Hares Ear Nymph 14 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED

March Brown Flymph
Often the rise starts quietly as trout pick off the March emergers just below the surface.  At this time a March Brown Flymph fished just below the surface can be your best fly. 
Item Description Size Price To Top
06257-14 March Brown Flymph 14 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED

March Brown Soft Hackle
A March Brown Soft Hackle on a dropper 3' above your bottom pounding nymphs can pay extra dividends.  A March Brown Soft Hackle fished just below the surface can be good bet during all stages of the hatch.  
Item Description Size Price To Top
06258-14 March Brown Soft Hackle 14 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED

Paranymph, Brown
This is the March Brown May Fly as it hangs in the surface film and is wriggling from the shuck. A Bob Quigley pattern.
Item Description Size Price To Top
Q301-14 Paranymph, Brown 14 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED
Q301-16 Paranymph, Brown 16 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED

March Brown Cripple
You can fish the cripple like a dry fly by itself or it can be very effective if you add March Brown Cripple to a dropper 1' to 3' from your dry fly and fish both flies dead drift.  A Bob Quigley pattern.

Item Description Size Price To Top
Q1007-14 March Brown Cripple 14 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED

Hackle-Stacker Sparkle Dun, March Brown
This is the March Brown May fly as it is sliding out of or is trapped in side the nymphal shuck. A Bob Quigley pattern.
Item Description Size Price To Top
Q1029-14 H.S. Sparkle Dun, March Brown 14 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED

Loopwing Paradun, March Brown
This is a realistic pattern that can be very effective under all conditions but especially under the slick water bright light condition where fish can be very wary.  Because this fly is fragile it should be saved for special occasions.  A Bob Quigley pattern.
Item Description Size Price To Top
Q235-14 Loopwing Paradun, March Brown 14 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED

March Brown Traditional Dun
This versatile "easy to see" fly is proven under a wide variety of conditions. It may be fished "in the round" or the hackle can be trimmed on the bottom for a lower silhouette. 
Item Description Size Price To Top
3049-14 March Brown Traditional Dun 14 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED

March Brown Twilight Hair Wing Dun
This is our most popular dry fly for the March Brown hatch.  The red Antron fibers on the front of the wing help you see the fly.  If you get refusals from the fish, you can clip the bright fibers from the wing.
Item Description Size Price To Top
3051-14 March Brown Twilight Hair Wing Dun 14 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED

March Brown Parachute
This very effective low floating quill body dry fly has a wing post made from lightweight highly visible poly.  It is very easy to see, especially on dark overcast days.
Item Description Size Price To Top
3052-14 March Brown Parachute 14 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED
3052-16 March Brown Parachute 16 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED

Blue Wing Olive Loop Wing Paradun
This is a proven pattern for March browns that are olive tones.  These flies occur on some rivers more frequently than you might expect.
Item Description Size Price To Top
Q210-14 Blue Wing Olive Loop Wing Paradun 14 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED

Parachute Adams Traditional, White Wing
This is one of the most popular dry flies in the Pacific Northwest.  It is used to imitate a wide variety of mayfly and caddis species.  It is often the best searching pattern when no surface activity apparent.  The wing is made from white calf body hair.
Item Description Size Price To Top
1034-12 Parachute Adams Traditional, White Wing 12 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED
1034-14 Parachute Adams Traditional, White Wing  14 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED

March Brown Spinner
A March Brown "spinner fall" can extend your fishing day.  Spinner falls usually occur over faster water areas.  However they create the most reliable feeding activity if they raft up in back eddies down stream.  Sometimes the evening back eddy rise that you think is midge emergence is actually created by collecting dead March Brown spinners.
Item Description Size Price To Top
3057-14 March Brown Spinner 14 3 for $5.25 SALE ENDED

The key to success is "understanding".  You can never know enough.
Understanding the organisms that trout feed on is one of the keys to catching trout.
The Hatch Guide For Western Streams by Jim Schollmeyer 
is great reference material for the trout fisher.
Check out our special deal.

Eyes On Flies  A theory on how eyes evolved.   2   More About Eyes.

"Yes, you guessed it.  I'm playing with my newest picture making toys.  Some of these toys are optical.  Some are digital.  Every picture in this presentation was taken with a digital camera and then altered with Photoshop software.  No attempt has been made to hide or deceive; quite the contrary.  Every attempt has been made to clarify and communicate the power of the eye to your eyes.  The eye might the greatest 

instrument of perception for the creatures that have them.  Sight allows us to assess information quickly which allows for quick reaction, often a matter of life and death.  However the blessing may also be a curse.  If you are the prey, being hard to see is important to your survival and your eyes may be some of the hardest parts of your body to hide.  Which means it may be the easiest feature for a predator to target.  At least that seems to be true in the case of some schooling bait fish and some of the predator fish that feed on them.  Patty and I encountered this situation while fishing around the shoreline rocks south of Barra De Navidad, Mexico.  Jacks, Sierra Mackerel and Corvina were feeding on a small baitfish that was perfectly matched to a #4 olive & white Clouser Minnow.  For a while it was a fish every cast.  Then we ran out of those flies.  The next fly tried was a "Bend-back" of exactly the same size and color.  It was tied from the  materials, but had no eyes and no eye target.  No hits at all, over an extended period.  The next pattern tried was an ALF of same color and size, but with prominent reflective silver and black eyes.  I was instantly back into numbers of hook ups.  The eyes were the key to catching fish for the next several days.  

At left is a Flatiron Herring called a Sardina from the Sea of Cortez.  Note the very prominent black pupil in the reflective iris.  The pupil itself may be the key.

Several species of saltwater game fish exhibit false eyes at the tail end of their bodies to confuse predators that might want to feed on them.  Mot notable are the Redfish that inhabit coastal areas of the south east U.S.A. 

With eyes being so important as targets for predatory fish, it only stands to reason that some discerning fly tiers would put eyes on their flies.  Who was first? No one knows.  One of the first applications that  became popular was the use of Jungle Cock Eyes on flies tied to catch Atlantic Salmon.  These eyes are the tips of neck hackles from the Gray India Jungle Fowl.  These feathers 

have an eye-spot in the enamel-like coating.  The use of Jungle Cock Eyes also became popular on streamer flies that simulate fresh water bait fish.   
Is a cluster or school of many eyes harder to target than one eye?  Schooling baitfish use "too many targets" as a defense mechanism.  The Jungle Cock 

neck might also provide an answer.  The Jungle Cock neck is probably the result of genetic selection?  It would be interesting to know which predator targeted the eyes of jungle cocks and was finally rendered ineffective by the school of eyes on it's neck. It may have happened.  At any rate this adaptation has provided fly tiers a supply of eyes for flies for many years.  Unfortunately Jungle Cock feathers are expensive, somewhat fragile and not always easy to come by.  In many cases it is easier to paint eyes on the 

head of a fly.  Flies that have large heads facilitate this process.  Bass popping bugs are prime candidates for these kinds of eyes.  With the example furnished here, several coats of paint form the background color and then the eye.  Then the whole head of the popper is coated with clear epoxy which adds luster and extreme durability.  Popping bugs float on the surface of the water and attract fish by making loud disturbances.  Under these conditions it is hard to determine whether eyes on 

poppers are made to attract fish or fishermen.  We have fished poppers with and without eyes and I always thought that the ones with eyes caught more fish.   Doing this kind of research is a pretty good job even if it isn't entirely scientific.  I have little doubt that eyes make a lot of difference in the productivity of flies that are tied to represent bait fish.  If normal size eyes are a target for predatory fish, then productivity of a certain fly pattern might be increased simply by 

increasing the size of the eyes thus making the target easier to see. Some anglers go to an extreme.  At left is a Big Eyed Baitfish.  It is tied like many "Deceiver patterns", but has oversized doll eyes glued to the sides of an over sized head.  

The pupils in these eyes are mobile and add movement and sound as the fly is retrieved.  The air trapped inside the eye gives the fly a heads-up attitude.  This pattern has been proven to be very effective, but the jury is out as to whether the over size eyes produce more strikes than normal size eyes.  (We would love your input on eye size and will be glad to publish your comments).  The clear lens of real eyes are in most cases hemispherical.  

However the lens is rarely discernable.  The iris and pupil are the features of the eye that are easiest to see.  The iris is relatively flat at first appearance.  The pupil is a hole, but at a glance it also appears to be flat.  
Recently some really neat looking hemispherical 3-D eyes have become available.  We wondered if they might get more strikes than flat ones.  So far our tests have been inconclusive.  As to colors of eyes?  We have tried yellow, silver and red iris color.  They have all caught fish.  Most baitfish have reflective irises.  Many have silver irises.  However reflective silver irises on our flies haven't proven to be any more effective than painted yellow.  Using red irises  
is a trick that Captain Bob Marvin out of Naples, Florida turned us on to.  He said that many times when predator fish attack a school of bait fish, their first intention is to cripple as many baits as possible.  Then they can pick up the crippled fish in a more leisurely fashion.  This is more efficient than killing only one at a time.  Often the crippling blow comes from the slap of a tail or ramming of the head.  The bait is often severely bruised and the eye ball often fills with blood giving the eye a red iris.  Red 
eyes can signify an easy meal.  The pupil is the aperture through which light passes to the specialized nerve ending in the back of the eye ball which sends the illusion of sight to the brain.  By its very function it has to fit certain configurations that are not easily disguised.  A baitfish pupil nearly always looks like a black dot.  If the pupil is the real target, can the iris be eliminated from the fly?  Once 
again no conclusive evidence exists.  Flies like the one above that uses plastic dumb-bell eyes have proven to be more effective than the same pattern with no eyes at all.  Flies with eyes painted on lead or brass dumb-bells have proven to be very effective.  The eye target is very prominently displayed and the heavy weight concentrated near the eye gives the fly an erratic, wounded action when retrieved. 


Pacific Bonito
Bonito are football shaped "tuna fish-like"  torpedoes.  Their silky smooth skin appears to be completely devoid of scales, almost like it was made from polished metal.  The muted tones of grayish-green and black are pearlescent and irredescent.  These 
colors can change holographicly as the fish turns in the light.  Bonito are designed for speed and endurance.   They swim constantly and are usually  found in fast moving schools.  These schools may be as small as half a dozen  
individuals or may cover over a hundred acres. They are often visible when slashing the surface while feeding.  Bonito eat a variety of smaller bait fish, including sardines and anchovies.  These bait fish can be tiny fry or as large as six inches long.  Stomach autopsies have also revealed shrimp and small swimming crabs.  Most Bonito are caught while trolling.  We have even caught Bonito on giant flies used for 
teasing up billfish.  However, Bonito can be caught while casting.  Our best luck is to sneak up on a feeding school and cast small flies into it.  Bonito are incredibly spooky.  The approach of a noisy boat will usually put them down.   I have often wondered if the stealthy approach provided by an electric trolling motor might turn the tide.  No one seems to have electric motors on their bluewater boats.  Even when Bonito are slashing the surface in reckless abandon they can be very selective feeders.  Usually anglers try using flies that are too large.  When Bonito are hooked they pull hard and will usually surprise a novice angler.  Bonito are small fish by blue water standards.  They average is 2-5 pounds with somewhere over 10 pounds being the fly rod world record.  I might have caught and released one that was larger while fishing out of Loreto, Mexico.  It put a heck of a bend in a #12 rod for a long period.  I turned it loose.

Sandy River Spey Clave 2008

Simon Gawesworth on the Deschutes River.

Simon Gawesworth is head fly line designer at Rio and one of the most sought after Spey casting instructors in the world. Simon's father taught him to fish at the age of 6. Now 43, he has been teaching fly casting professionally since he was 16.  He has both cast and fished for England in British, European and World Championships and was elected Captain of the England team for the 2003 world Fly Fishing Championships.
Simon is A.P.G.A.I and S.T.A.N.IC. certified in the UK

and C.I., Master and T.H.C.I. certified in the U.S. He also sits on the F.F.F. board of Governors and T.H.S.I committee.  You won't want to miss his on the water presentations at The Sandy River Spey Clave


The Fly Fishing Shop HOME. The Fly Fishing Shop, Welches, OR

1(800) 266-3971

To Top

www.flyfishUSA.com

Fish long & prosper,
Mark & Patty

 


Top Fishing Websites at TopFishingSites.Com 4reel fishing top fishing sites cyber-lake.com Top Fishing Sites