This is John Collins’ Peacock March Brown Parachute fly. John’s a fixture at regional tying shows, a fellow member of the Regal Pro Staff and, as you will see shortly, works in the construction industry. A couple of materials used in the fly are a bit difficult to find but it’s worth the search because they so closely match the coloration of the naturals.
John starts with a Daiichi 1280 2 XL dry fly hook in a size 12. For thread he loads a bobbin with a spool of 8/0 camel Uni thread. Start your thread on the hook shank leaving a 2 eye length space behind the eye and take wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag. End with your tying thread a little ways in front of the hook point.
For the tail of the fly, John uses fibers from a brown or dark ginger spade hackle. Spade hackles are located on the outside edge of a dry fly neck. Preen about a dozen fibers down so they’re perpendicular to the stem and their tips are aligned. Pull the stem away to strip off the fibers. Measure to form a tail a hook shank in length and transfer that measurement rearward to the tie-in point. Bind the fibers to the top of the hook all the way to the start of the bend. Then, advance your thread forward corralling the fibers as you go. Lift the very butt ends up and continue taking wraps of tying thread up the shank. Snip the excess butt ends of the hackle fibers off close. End with your tying thread at approximately the 1/4 mark on the hook shank.
John uses brown calf body hair for the wing post, which can be somewhat hard to find but it looks oh so good. White calf hair or tan poly are also perfectly acceptable. After snipping a small clump free from the hide, place its tips into your stacker and give it a firm stacking. Remove the clump by the aligned tips and position it over the tie-in location to form a wing post about a hook shank in length. Anchor the hair on top of the shank with several tight wraps of tying thread. You can then lift the butt ends up and snip them off at an angle, forming a nicely tapered underbody down to the tail. Continue taking thread wraps to bind the hair down really well. Pull the wing post up and back and take thread wraps in front of it to build up a small thread dam to prop up the post. Continue taking wraps around the clump of calf hair to post up the wing. When you get about 1/8” up, start making wraps back down the post. Relocate your tying thread down the hook shank to halfway between the hook point and the barb.
The abdomen of the fly is made from peacock biots off a cinnamon peacock feather. This is another tying material that might be a little hard to find. For this size 12, John uses 2 fibers, on a size 10 he’ll use 3. After breaking the brittle tips off, lay the fibers against the near side of the hook and take thread wraps to secure them. Keep taking thread wraps to bind the biots to the shank all the way back to the base of the tail. Then, take wraps to in front of the wing post. Hard as Hull penetrator cement works great for strengthening the delicate biot body. Apply a thin coat all the way around the thread and calf hair underbody.
Get hold of the butts of both biots with your hackle pliers and start taking wraps with them over top of the underbody. Wrapping the biots simultaneously like this really adds to the March Brown look. When you get to your tying thread, use it to secure the biots in front of the wing. Once the biots are firmly anchored, reach in with your tying scissors and snip the excess butt ends off close. You can then clean up the area with a few wraps of tying thread.
Apply a light coat of dubbing wax to your tying thread. Medium tan poly dubbing is used for the thorax of the fly. Create a short thin dubbing noodle on your tying thread. Start taking wraps with the noodle to build up the thorax in back of the wing post.
A dark ginger hackle feather, with fibers just slightly smaller than the hook size, is used to form the parachute. Prep the feather by stripping about 1/4” of fibers free from both sides of the stem. Lay the bare stem against the far side of the wing post and take thread wraps to secure it to the hook shank behind the eye.
Once again, apply a thin coat of dubbing wax to your tying thread, then using the same dubbing as before, build up another short, thin dubbing noodle. Take wraps with the noodle both behind and in front of the wing post to help brace it in the vertical position and complete the thorax. It’s much better to add small amounts of dubbing at a time rather than having too much and needing to remove it. End with your tying thread behind the hook eye.
Start making counterclockwise wraps with the hackle around the wing post. John wraps first up and then back down. After 5 or 6 turns, pull the hackle tip out over the hook eye and in line with the shank. With your left hand, sweep the wing and hackle up and back and pinch it tight to hold the stem in place. This will free up your right hand to get hold of your bobbin and begin making thread wraps to secure the hackle stem to the shank. Once it’s really locked down, reach in with your tying scissors and snip the excess tip off close.
You may need to do a little trimming to clear any wayward fibers or ones that could conceivably block the hook eye. When you’ve got everything nicely cleaned up, take thread wraps to create a small head on the fly and then do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish to anchor the thread. You can then snip or cut your tying thread free. John uses a dental pick, like a mini dubbing brush, to get all the hackles correctly aligned.
If you’re lucky enough to hit a full blown March Brown hatch, you’ll be especially glad to have a fly box loaded with a bunch of these.