3 essential flies for stillwater fly fishing in March

After a quick trawl through this week's fishery reports here are the top three most popular early season flies and lures to tie ready for your trips to the stillwater in March.

3 essential flies for stillwater fly fishing in March
Picture copyright © HM Fly Fishing
3 essential flies for stillwater fly fishing in March
Picture copyright © HM Fly Fishing
3 essential flies for stillwater fly fishing in March
Estimated reading time 4 - 6 minutes

Cat's whisker

Starting with that essential lure for any fly fisher heading out to their local stillwater this March, the cat's whisker.

Lauded as one of the UK's most successful stillwater lures, it's a fairly straightforward fly for the novice fly tyer (even a beginner like me can make a passable one.) Just watch out for the marabou, it gets everywhere!

Devised in the 1980s by David Train, rumour has it that it gets its name from his cat's moulted whiskers which he used to stiffen up the tail to stop it wrapping round the hook. These days, they're no longer used. It consists of just marabou, some chain bead eyes, a body of chenille and a little bit of crinkle flash.

There are now loads of variants of this popular fly pattern which come in a wide range of colours.

George's own cat's whisker pattern, the Red Rascal, features blood red marabou and a dubbed body of Hends fluorescent orange UV ice dubbing, rather than the usual chenille.

It's proved very popular at Ellerdine Lakes and Charles Jardine wrote about it in the March issue of Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Magazine.

Here's Welsh fly fishing ace Matthew Pate tying his Crazy Eyed Cat, a cat's whisker variant featuring fluorescent orange chain bead eyes instead of the usual silver ones.

Black buzzer

Next up is that staple fixture of any fly fisher's box, the buzzer. With the warmer weather of the last few weeks the buzzer hatches are growing in frequency so it's an ideal time to get these out of your box and onto your line.

A great pattern for the beginner to fly tying, buzzers are very simple to tie, but really effective to fish. Like the Cat's Whisker there are endless variants and it's worth keeping a number of different sizes and colours in your fly box.

Here's Ben Bangham, England International and professional fishing guide, tying his go-to early season black buzzer. The addition of mirage tinsel on the head is a really nice touch to increase its visibility. 


George has knocked up a few of Ben's pattern as an alternative to his usual olive buzzer to try at Ellerdine this weekend. See this month's fly fishing diary to see what they caught him. 

Davie McPhail ties a similar early season black buzzer pattern which is also a good alternative to try at this time of the season.

If you're new to fly fishing, have a look at our article on how to fish buzzers for trout for some tips on using them successfully. 

Diawl Bach

And finally in at number 3, the Diawl Bach, or "little devil", another excellent fly for the novice tyer. This suggestive nymph pattern is often considered to be half way between a buzzer and a nymph and is a useful fly all year round not just in March.

It usually consists of a body of peacock herl, a tail and beard of cock or hen hackle fibres and a rib of colourful tinsel.

It's an easy fly for the beginner, the only tricky bit is attaching the beard of hackle fibres neatly below the fly without stabbing yourself on the hook point.

Here's Davie McPhail tying his red holographic Diawl Bach, a useful addition to your fly box at any time of year.


If you want to tie a more blinged-up version try Matthew Pate's UV Quill Hot Head Diawl Bach, which uses UV straggle fritz rather than peacock herl.

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