Jacklin's Favorite: For Spring, Summer, or Whenever
Written: Apr 18, 2006 (Updated May 21, 2012)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Tying instructions readily available; good all-purpose pattern
Cons:One size fits all from Umpqua; Regional availability can be sporadic
The Bottom Line: A solid fly pattern meant to catch fish, not just fishermen. Recommended as a good, all-purpose pattern.
Having tied flies commercially since 1963, Bob Jacklin is owner of Jacklin's Fly Shop in West Yellowstone, Montana - if you walk out the shop's front door and turn left, the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park is about 1/2 mile straight down the road. Renowned for his tying demonstrations at Federation of Fly Fishers ( http://www.fedflyfishers.org/ ) conclaves and International Sportsmen's Expositions, Jacklin has appeared on a number of television programs including "In Search of Fly Water" and "Fly Fish Television."
In his excellent dvd Introduction to Fly-tying With Bob Jacklin ($19.95 plus shipping, see http://www.jacklinsflyshop.com/ ), Jacklin claims to have invented this fly in 1970 for New York's Esopus River. But, don't let either the fly's name or the river of origin mislead you. According to fly fishing author Art Flick in his 1969 New Streamside Guide to Naturals and Their Imitations, the "American March Brown" is: "...very abundant in almost all streams, and trout are equally fond of the nymph as the winged fly." (p. 74) In his seminal, 1973 work Nymphs, fly fishing author Ernest Schwiebert made the following observation: "Stenonema vicarium [March Brown] typically emerges from the first week in May until the middle of June, although some subimagoes have been observed as late as the third week in July." (p. 288)
In other words, this insect, one of the larger of the "mayflies," is found throughout the U.S. and while the hatch of adults occurs from anytime in March through July depending on location, the nymphs are available to trout year-round. Perhaps this is why Jacklin claims in the dvd mentioned above that it is often the first nymph he'll tie on and in the 2001 Fly Fishing The Yellowstone In The Park (Bob Jacklin and Gary LaFontaine, $12.95 plus shipping, http://www.jacklinsflyshop.com/ ) stipulates that: "I like to use my March Brown Nymph as an all-purpose nymph." (p. 62)
Umpqua offers Jacklin's March Brown Nymph only in size 12. Again, the March Brown is one of the larger mayflies, attracting the trout's attention as a hearty meal in "one bite." The fly is intended to be fished on or near the bottom of the stream; with Jacklin recommending the short-line, high-stick method under an indicator. However, a good deal of success has been had by allowing the fly to drift near the bottom, then when the current lifts the fly toward the surface once the fly line/leader has extended straight downstream, the fisherman allows the fly to hold/flail as far up in the water column as the current strength and any extra split shot will allow - many of the naturals will take a long time working their way out of their nymphal shuck just below the water's surface.
I have found the fly to be a good searching pattern during high water periods in the Spring; usually late-March through mid-June. It helps that this is the prime time for hatches of March Browns. But the fly itself, being heavily weighted (even more so with the addition of an epoxy back by the home tyer) and substantial in size, sinks well in the heavier currents and allows for heavier tippets (4X-5X [6lb. and 4 lb.]) that allow for putting more "heat" on fish in the faster water. (It also helps that the fly's coloration, general size, outline, heavy weight, and the fishing methods used allow it to substitute, in a pinch, for golden stone flies; a hatch which tends to coincide nicely with that of the March Browns.)
For tyers, I strongly recommend obtaining Jacklin's DVD Introduction to Fly-tying With Bob Jacklin. It provides everything you need to know and more about tying this fly in clear, step-by-step instructions. (The video also covers tying the Green Inch Worm, Black & Grizzly Wooly Worm (precursor to the Wooly Bugger), Brown Bivisible, Gray Wulff, Royal Wulff (see Wulff Dry Flies), and the Platte River Special - with a complete list of materials receipes at the end.) However, for those not willing to wait, a tying synopsis would be as follows:
Select a 1X or 2X (each "X" equals the length of a hook eye, so 2X means "two hook eye lengths longer than a standard hook shank length) nymph hook such as the TMC 3761 (1X), TMC 5262 (2X and my preferred hook for this pattern), Mustad 3906B (1X), or Mustad 9671 (2X) in sizes 10 - 14. After winding thread on to the hook, wrap as much lead wire as you feel appropriate; Jacklin covers most of the hook shank, leaving a little room in front of the bend and a little room behind the hook eye.
Tie in a small ball of dubbing just in front of the hook bend and about as thick as the lead wire underbody. Jacklin uses Australian opossum dubbing from a "muddy" brown to natural amber. I tend to mix a combination of Natural and Rust Hare's Ear (both from Harline Dubbin, Inc.) with Mike Mercer Buggy Nymph in Amber Caddis (available from Umpqua) and Super Bright Amber Dubbing (from Wapsi Fly, Inc.). Whatever you choose, the fly should be a tannish brown in color for the same dubbing mix is used throughout.
Tie in three fibers from a Ringneck Cock Pheasant on top of the dubbing so that they splay off about the length of the hook shank off the rear; one fiber pointing straight back, the other two pointed off to each side at about a 20 - 30 degree angle. This only works, or should I say holds, if you tie the fibers in on top of the dubbing.
Next, tie in a length of dark brown, flat nylon thread. Jacklin recommends Size F Button-Hole Twist silk in the video, while I tend to use one strand of rayon floss. This will form the rib. Use a dubbing loop (a small loop of thread with dubbing inserted into the thread loop and twisted into a "yarn") and wrap dubbing forward 2/3 of the way up the hook shank. Then wrap the rib forward, creating evenly spaced segments up the abdomen (body).
Tie in a segment of dark turkey tail. Then tie in a Hungarian Partridge feather by the tip; dull side up. Both the turkey and the partridge should be facing to the rear. Dub a thick thorax to about a hook eye length behind the hook eye. Fold the partridge feather forward and tie in. Pull the turkey forward, tie off, then put a generous coating of Dave's Flexament on the turkey. Now you have a shellback and legs. You CAN whip finish the fly here. However, both Umpqua and Jacklin add a few turns of dubbing at the front, then whip finish - creating a head.
The finishing touches include taking some form of pliers and flattening out the abdomen area and aggressively picking out the dubbing on each side of the thorax. If you wish, and I do, you may put a coating of Devcon 5-minute Epoxy on the turkey - doing so either BEFORE you add the dubbed "head" or by leaving off this dubbed head altogether. The "poxy-back" helps the fly sink and adds another element of "realism" to the nymph. It will also add longevity to the turkey back; a material that, even when coated with Flexament, will tend to fray as more fish take the fly.
Unlike Bob Jacklin, this isn't necessarily the first nymph I'll tie on. But, hey - I didn't invent it either. In the end, far too many flies found in shop bins today are created more to catch fishermen than fish. If the guy who created the fly says this is his favorite, is the first fly (nymph) he tends to tie on, and it works for him (and others) for Spring, Summer, or Whenever, that's what counts. It's no longer just a "fashion statement" or a marketing gimmick. It's a FISHING fly rather than a fly for fishing. You can't say anything better than that about someone's fly pattern.
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