Leisenring’s March Brown Nymph

James Leisenring’s nymph template takes some getting used to. At least it does for me. I get the short hackle (even though I do quite well, thank you, with nymphs using long hackle). But I’m still mystified by these “very short” tails. I’m skeptical that a trout will notice an almost-not-even-there tail in a gurgling 3-knot current. Not to mention they’re a pain to tie. But never mind. Who am I to argue with greatness?

Today we have the March Brown Nymph. A handsome creature, part Pheasant Tail, part Hare’s Ear, part soft hackle. Delicious! The menu has been set. Let our diners assemble.

Leisenring’s March Brown Nymph


Hook: 13 (I’m using a 2x heavy, 1x long 12 or 14)
Silk: Orange (I’m slumming with UNI 6/0 thread)
Hackle: A short-fibered, light brown feather from the Hungarian partridge.
Tail: Three fibers from a cock pheasant tail feather tied very short.
Rib: Gold or silver wire.
Body: Three reddish fibers from a center feather of a cock pheasant tail. (As with peacock’s herl, tie in, twist with thread, and wind up body, twisting together as you go.)
Thorax: Hare’s ear fur dubbed fairly heavily.
Tying notes: Short-fibered light brown partridge hackles are hard to come by. Be prepared to do some hunting on your skin. Normally, I’d use the same pheasant tail fibers for the tail as I would for the body. But these tails are so short, I kept pulling them out when I tried to use the whole smash. So, separate sets of three for tail and body. I find Leisenring’s directive of twisting the fibers around the thread unnecessary for reinforcement purposes — the gold wire does that nicely. If he’s trying to get some extra orange in the abdomen, well, then, Jim, I’ve failed you. I think a dubbing loop makes for a buggier thorax. Two wraps of hackle are all you’ll need — or manage.

8 comments on “Leisenring’s March Brown Nymph

  1. John says:

    Very clean tie. Did you wrap the hackle in by the tip?

  2. Anthony says:

    Steve, so I gave this fly a try. Seems to me that just 3 pheasant tail fibers is pretty thin for the body. Thoughts? Anthony

    • Steve Culton says:

      Anthony, this question is so good that I’ll think I’ll write something about it on currentseams. So. Here are my thoughts, in no particular order. 1) Leisenring tied this fly with 3 pheasant tail fibers. He thought the fly was so good, he put it in his book. 2) There’s nothing that says you can’t use 4 or 5 or 8. Have, fun, play around, find what works for you. 3) Droppers are the fastest way to find out what the fish want. So tie two versions, frequently change the positions, and see if the fish have a preference. 4) I usually like to honor the original recipe so I can try to appreciate what the tier had in mind. 5) The patterns look alive and like something good to eat. Hope that helps!

  3. […] weekend, I received a question about tying Leisenring’s March Brown Nymph. The reader wanted to know if I thought three pheasant tail fibers for the body was enough. As you […]

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