Hatches Made Easy:

American March Brown - Spinners


The American March Brown spinner fall is usually the best part of the hatch.
That is because the spinner fall congregates the mayflies that have hatched
over a long period of time into a short climax. That is also the downfall to it. The
entire spinner fall last for only a short time or an average of about an hour.
Another big factor in The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is that the
current rules require you to stop fishing 30 minutes after official sunset. As you
know, this means you must stop fishing before dark, especially during the later
part of the March Brown hatch in late May and early June. If it is a bright, clear
day with lots of sunshine, the spinner fall will most likely occur just prior to dark. If
it is a cloudy, rainy or overcast day the spinner fall may occur much earlier or
late in the afternoon.
Most of the time when the spinners do fall, the light is low enough that you can
barely see the flies in the air or on the water even though they are large
mayflies. Of course the trout will continue to eat the spinners long after they fall
into the water. Usually the trout will not feed on them in the fast water where the
females deposit their eggs, fall spent and die. The trout usually congregate
below the fast water in current seams at the ends of long runs, the heads of
pools and other places where the current congregates the spinners. This allows
the trout to remain in one area and sip the spinners off the surface of the water.

Presentation of the spinner imitation depends entirely on the location of the trout
that are feeding on them. In the low light situations when the spinners are on the
water it is not only next to impossible to see the spinners, it is also difficult to see
the trout feeding on them. They do not make a splashy rise. They  leave only a
small rise ring when they sip the spinners. Unless the remaining sunlight is
hitting the water just right, you may never notice either one of them.
There is nothing wrong with using another higher floating, more visible fly
located a two or three feet ahead of the spinner fly to serve as an indicator. That
will help you detect the takes. This method works fairly well. However, it is best to
concentrate on the presentation watching the end of your fly line. If the
remaining light is assisting any you should be able to track you spinner imitation
well enough to detect the strikes. In other words, even though you can't see the
fly, you know where it is close enough to detect the take.
If you loose sight of the fly, and you don't think it is near trout eating the
spinners, you can make the fly move by stopping the drift and slightly raising the
tip of your fly rod. The purpose of this is to deliberately create drag for a second
or two.  In smooth water, you can easily spot the surface disturbance the fly
makes. To avoid spooking the trout, just make certain you attempt this trick
before the fly gets into the productive strike zone or area where you think the
trout may be holding.
If the spinner fall is fairly heavy and you get in the right position in the stream (or
on the bank) just before the spinners start falling,
you stand an excellent
chance of catching several fish in a very short time
. On several occasions,
Angie and I have discovered the March Brown spinners mixed in with the Red
Quill and Hendrickson spinners. Because the hatch last so long you may find
that spinners of the Pale Evening Duns, Sulfers, Light and Cream Cahills and
other mayflies mixed in with the American March Brown spinners. In the low light,
the mixture of spinners makes catching trout even easier. You just have to hope
that you can get in on this action while it is still legal to fish.

Coming Up Next:
March Brown fly pattern colors

Copyright 2008 James Marsh
Thumbnail: Click to enlarge
An American March Brown  
that has not finished
completely changing from
anglers call a dun to a
Seconds later it came off
the long tails.
Thumbnail: Click the
picture to enlarge