March Brown Parachute

by Matt O'Neal of Savage Flies: Find him on his YouTube channel at Savage Flies

It’s now early April  and many of you trout fishermen know what that means- the March Browns are hatching. So what exactly is a March Brown? In short, it’s a mayfly, and usually it’s some shade of brown. It can be found in abundance in the larger, clean rivers throughout the world, but quite often in smaller trout waters as well. It’s no mystery how it got its name. It is usually one of the earliest emerging mayflies of the year, typically the end of winter (i.e., March to early April).

Understanding the March Brown

Now there is no shortage of dry fly patterns out there that imitate the March Brown dun (recall a dun is the semi-scientific name for an adult mayfly). You’ve all probably seen, or tied yourself, any number of mayflies. They follow a pretty standard theme: tail, thin body, collar hackle, and usually some type if upright wing. Think the Adams, the quintessential dry fly, which in a pinch can also fool fish feeding on March Browns. Tie an Adams in cream or yellowish/orange colors and you have a sulphur. Tie it in browns, and you guessed it, you have a March Brown.

The Inspiration Behind this Parachute Pattern

The pattern I want to feature this month follows the same theme, but with a parachute post substituted for the upright wing. This is not a novel technique. Most all mayfly duns can be tied as parachutes. What is unique about this one is that the post used is not the standard calftail, or synthetic parapost material. It calls for a clump of natural turkey slips or brown partridge feathers. The rest of the fly follows the same mayfly/dry fly techniques.

The pattern we're exploring is drawn from Dave Hughes' seminal work, "Trout Flies: A Tier's Reference." This book is a treasure trove of fly-tying knowledge, offering a blend of how-to guides, pattern encyclopedias, historical insights, and entomological details. The March Brown Parachute, detailed in Hughes' book, stands out for its unique post material—a departure from the traditional white calf tail or synthetic materials.

So any trout fishermen out there, still working to fill up your winter fly boxes, itching to get out on the water the first warm day of the season, it might not be a bad idea to have a row of this staple pattern in your box.

March Brown Parachute Materials

Tying Steps for the March Brown Parachute

  • Start with the Thread: Secure your brown thread onto the hook, establishing a base that extends to the bend. This foundational step is crucial for the overall integrity of the fly, ensuring that subsequent materials are anchored firmly.
  • Creating the Tail: Attach a modest bundle of brown hackle fibers at the bend to form the tail. This element isn't meant to provide floatation but to mimic the natural mayfly's structure. A few fibers are sufficient, keeping the tail proportional and not overly lengthy.
  • Constructing the Post: Progress the thread up to a third of the hook's length to introduce the post. Utilize two partridge feathers, aligning them with their convex sides together. This unique approach deviates from the norm, offering a subtle yet effective visual and structural difference. Secure and erect these feathers to form a sturdy post.
  • Preparing the Hackle: Position a brown dry fly hackle in front of the post. The preparation involves wrapping the hackle's stem up the post slightly, mirroring the post's construction, to ensure stability and alignment for the subsequent wrapping.
  • Dubbing the Body: Apply a slender noodle of tan synthetic dubbing along the thread, winding it to form the fly's body. Extend this dubbed body up to and past the post, stopping just shy of the hook's eye. The choice of synthetic dubbing aids in reducing water absorption, enhancing the fly's buoyancy.
  • Hackle Wrapping: With precision, wrap the hackle around the post, descending towards the hook. Aim for about four wraps, ensuring each is snug and orderly, to mimic the natural leg positioning of the mayfly.
  • Finishing Touches: Secure the hackle's end, trim any excess, and complete the fly with a whip finish around the post. This final step not only secures the fly but also neatens the overall appearance, readying the March Brown Parachute for action.
  • Cleanup and Inspection: Once the fly is complete, inspect for any stray fibers or irregularities. Trimming any misplaced hackle fibers can refine the fly's silhouette, enhancing its appeal and effectiveness in the water.

These detailed steps, infused with thoughtful techniques and material choices, culminate in a March Brown Parachute that's both a joy to tie and a potent tool on the water. Whether you're a seasoned tier or a novice, embracing these nuances can elevate your fly-tying artistry and success in angling.

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