March Brown Mayfly

March Brown Mayfly hatches can create exciting dry fly fishing.

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Tracy Peterson
March Browns

March 14, 2004, Sunday, 1:00pm - 5:00pm
Fly Tier's Round Table

Tracy Peterson Commercial Fly Tier, Tracy Peterson
"will demo some of his patterns developed for the Minnesota/Wisconsin/Montana area."
The program and instructions are free.  
So are the coffee and snacks.
Bring snacks to share if you want to.
Bring your own tools, and materials and tie along.  Beginners are welcome.
Just some guys getting together & tying flies.

The Eyes Have It!  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. 

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March Brown May Flies - fly patterns for matching the 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)
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- March
and continues through 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.  Fishing two flies at once will increase your odds of hooking up.  Usually two different colors or sizes are used.  Black, Olive and Gold Rib Hares Ears are valuable flies to have with you and will some times out fish the more realistic patterns.  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 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.  At this time a Soft Hackle fished just below the surface can be your best fly.  It is often even more effective if you add March Brown Cripple or dry fly to  a dropper 1' to 3' from your soft hackle and fish both flies dead drift.  Duns and emergers produce the best surface 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 evening back eddy rise that you think is midge emergence is actually created by collecting dead March Brown spinners.

March Brown Nymph

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.

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

Black Hares Ear
Rhithrogena nymphs are very dark.  This fly looks enough like many dark mayfly and stonefly nymphs that is is valuable nearly year round.  It is particularly productive during early spring and winter months.
Item Description Size Price To Top
12000-12 Black Hares Ear 12 3 for $5.25
12000-14 Black Hares Ear 14 3 for $5.25

Soft Hackle, Pheasant Tail
This fly imitates many different species of emerging mayflies and is equally effective in lakes and streams.  It can be a very effective fly during any March Brown hatch.
Item Description Size Price To Top
12368-14 Soft Hackle, Pheasant Tail 14 3 for $5.25

Paranymph, Brown 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

March Brown Cripple

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

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

Loopwing Paradun, March Brown 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

March Brown Traditional Dun 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

March Brown Twilight Hair Wing Dun March Brown Twilight Hair Wing Dun
This is our most popular dry fly for the March Brown hatch.  It is easy for anglers to see and is very realistic to fish that are looking up.
Item Description Size Price To Top
3051-14 March Brown Twilight Hair Wing Dun 14 3 for $5.25

March Brown Parachute 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

March Brown Spinner 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

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Fish long & prosper
Mark & Patty


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