“March Brown” is a name you see attached to a lot of different wet fly patterns. Some of them are caddis; others, mayflies. This spider is intended to represent the latter. I discovered it on page 116 of Sylvester Nemes’ Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies. It was originally published in 1936 in an English book, Trout Fishing From All Angles.
The Farmington River is not known for its March Browns; while we do experience that hatch, it’s not on the level of, say, Hendricksons or Sulphurs. But we do have a good showing of Isonychia, and I have taken to fishing the Hackled March Brown spider in the late summer to represent those substantial mayflies.
Last August, I was fishing a snotty run that was studded with boulders and pockets. There wasn’t much going on hatch-wise, and I had the Hackled March Brown spider as the point fly on my team of three wets. The hit was one of unrestrained violence and brutality, such that it ripped the line from my hands. The trout went immediately on the reel; I never saw it until I was able to coax it into the shallows. Over twenty inches long, it was my biggest trout of 2013.
Tying notes: A straightforward, simple fly to tie. The original calls for a body of “hare’s ear dyed red ant colour.” I have settled on “rust,” and the trout seem OK with it. You could make the body a little buggier than I have here, but I like this fly with a thin profile. There are a multitude of brown feathers on a standard partridge skin; they’re located along the back of the bird.
The Hackled March Brown Rogues’ Gallery: