Welcome to Not Quite Entomology

Welcome to Not Quite Entomology! This is a different approach to matching the hatch, or learning which insect the fish are really eating. The flies and methods to make it all work will be here as well. We hope this series will inspire you to go out, look on top of and under rocks, check the stream-side vegetation, really investigate your favorite water and learn which are your local trout's favorite foods!


March Brown/Brown Drake

By J. Castwell


Old Rupe is "off his feet" for a while, and we will fill in for him the best we can. If you are knowledgeable about a particular insect or local hatch, please help us out - contact: LadyFisher. Don't worry about photos, we have good references.

March Brown

The March Brown and the Brown Drake are not the same thing. Well, not quite. However in many parts of our country the names are used interchangeably. You real bug-studying folks already know some of the names, such as; Stenonema fuscum, Stenonema vicarium, Stenonema ithica, Ephemera simulans, and it seems, tooti-fruiti. So much for all the techno-speak.

There are some things these insects do have in common. They are kind of brown, sort of. Some are a bit cream, others on the yellow side. Still they fall under the 'March Brown-Brown Drake' moniker. Most of them are about the same size, that is ten to sixteen, have darkish wings in the dun stage and most hatch about the same time of year, pretty much. If you need more specific information than that it is available in many books on the subject. A few even come close to agreeing with each other. Most will forecast emergence from about May twentieth through the end of June, give or take a week either way.

Stenonema vicarium You may find these hatching from late afternoon into dusk and the spinner fall near dark. You will find each operating in slightly different types of water. Don't worry, just pay real close attention to the flies in the air, on the surface and any nymphs you can find. A clue could be to check under a few rocks before you get into the stream, you might be able to tell what is probable. Look for nymphs with a tell-tale split type mark between the wing pads. (Hint,* If any are going to hatch that evening, the split will be very prominent and the wing pads will be enlarged and developed.)

Stenonema vicarium

This is probably an over simplification. The March Brown is really the large insect, the Ephemera simulans, ( Matching The Hatch, page 50, but is sometimes called the Brown Drake ). However according to another book (Hatches II, page 160) the March Brown is the Stenonema vicarium. Different ideas, different places. Sometimes the name Ginger Quill is used for the same insect.

The Brown Drake is the name sometimes used for the smaller fly, or group of flies. The necessary thing for you to do is inquire about your local streams. Find out just what you have and when it is likely to come off.

Stenonema vicarium, female Remember, the time of year is early summer and the color of your insects starts to change from the blueish-sulphur shade to a darker one. The wings will be speckled and darker, be prepared with a few duns, darker ones, size ten thru sixteen. Have a few spinners with the same features. There are a few exceptions on one end, that would be flies like the light Cahill which represents several smaller mayflies.

Stenonema vicarium nymph

The nymphs are different for the two flies also, one being short, wide and strong. The other longer and narrower. Simple, have a few of both with you. Both are on the dark speckled side. For tied imitations E. Schwiebert likes the American March Brown, by Preston Jennings for the dun. For the spinner, the Great Red Spinner, by Charles Wetzel. Al Caucci prefers his hackled comparadun for the dun and the compara-spinner for the spent fly.

March Brown Comparadun

I usually do not get too uptight about this hatch and spinner fall and have found under most conditions a fly which comes close in size and hue will do the job. These pictures should give you some idea of what you are in for. Observation is your best bet when fishing these flies. ~ JC

For more on mayflies check these out:

Photo credits: All photos from Hatches II by Al Caucci & Bob Nastasi, published by Lyons Press.


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