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The Lambda Dun A.australis Male
The Lambda A.australis Female
"Fly Talk" Freshwater Fishing Magazine
#113 March/April 2012

Mick continues his explorations into the Lambda Dun

The Lambda Dun, more commonly known as the March Brown, can start to emerge on our lakes and some streams as early as mid to late September and can continue right throughout the season, fading away in late March early April.  This species dominates a lot of our still waters on mainland Australia and Tasmania including some slow moving streams, the most famous of those being around Launceston in Tasmania like the Macquarie River or Brumby’s Creek.


The emergence sequence was explained in part one.  The next stage is the newly emerged dun which has the habit of hanging around for a minute or so after it emerges; the reason being that it needs to pump blood into its wings to strengthen them.


If there is a strong breeze those upright wings act like sails on an out of control yacht.  The stronger the wind the more difficult it is for these little critters to maintain a balance.  As you can imagine at this stage it is extremely vulnerable.


This skittering can cause splashy-type rises from trout as they chase those wind driven duns.  For calm water conditions see Fly Talk “Compressed Duns”, Issue 109 Freshwater Fishing Magazine.

One winter’s evening back in 1960 the late David Scholes and Max Christensen spent a very long evening talking things piscatorial.  Most of that conversation was over the Red Spinner, the Imago of the Lambda Dun.  Max had just developed a new pattern and at first he and David named it the Red Palmer, which was changed to Red Macquarie Palmer and finally known as the Macquarie Red.

This gentle take is typical of a feeding pattern on still water

Max Christensen’s Macquarie Red Spinner tied by Mick Hall

Typical wind-blown splashy rise created by a trout in a hurry

That original pattern, as shown above and quoted by David in his book The Way of an Angler, page 108, is as follows:


The Macquarie Red as designed by Max Christensen Circa 1960


Hook:  No. 2 long shank Mayfly up-eye (Mustad R72 size 12)

Silk/thread:  Orange  

Tail:  Three long stiff red cock hackle fibres (Coq De Leon)

Body:  Tying silk

Rib:  Fine copper wire

Hackle:  Front hackle of light grey creel cock, intermediate hackle slightly larger, of red cock and the back hackle (palmer tied) from a small red cock bantam.

Head:  Sufficient space is left between the eye of the hook and the front hackle to allow for the building up of a “head”, slightly larger in diameter than the eye of the hook.


Further on David writes: Secondly I feel, and Max agrees, that if a suitable type of turned down-eyed hook could be procured, a far more attractive fly would result.   The Mustad R72 is exactly what he was looking for.


It was Max Christensen’s iconic pattern that was the corner stone in the design of this dun pattern.

The All-rounder Brown Dun as developed/designed by Mick Hall

The pattern is straight forward and easy to tie. It was designed to work best in rough conditions and skip along with the waves, being typical of what is often found in the highlands of Tasmania.  The pattern is as follows:


Hook:  Mustad R72 2x long

Size:  14, 12

Tail:  Coq De Leon Bronze medium pardo

Body:  Mottled brown nymph blend by Spirit River mixed with a little medium Hare blend to give that dusty effect

Body:  Hackle Size 18/20 furnace saddle hackle or Dark Brown dun saddle hackle as an option

Wings:  March Brown EP Trigger Point Fibres with a small amount of EP Black to act as a fore-edge

Hackle:  Dark Brown Dun

The Red Spinner


The dun of A.australis normally rests a short while before emerging, as you would expect; this can be at grasses along the edge of a stream, or on the tops of floating weed beds.  On emergence the male spinners tend to group in packs to chase the females.  This swarming is different to standard mayfly approach; we often say that we see columns of mayflies rising up and down in the sunlight on evening.  Not the case with these guys, they’re out on the water chasing and looking for females and, believe me, the girls play the same game; how vulnerable are they?  Immensely.  They are chased by dragon flies, birds of all kinds and the scorpion wasp.


On one of those perfect days when there is no wind, the spinners of A.australis are very active and so are the fish, it’s one of those days that you wish for but they are rare.  So, the average sort of day is gusts of wind that settle back down and pick up again and as they settle down, the spinners start to show and as they start chasing each other over the margins, up comes the breeze again and they simply tend to disappear; they actually just go to ground.

Male Imago A.australis

Many a camp fire has been dominated by a conversation as to whether the Spinner of the Lambda is Orange or Red; thanks to digital photography we can easily see the answer. The male is darker around the thorax and does throw a red hue, whilst the female, as you can see, is a lot lighter and definitely more orange than red.   It’s quite easy to understand each side of the argument.

The Macquarie Red – Female – as adapted and designed by Mick Hall


Hook:   Mustad R 72

Size:  14-12

Tail:  A few strands of light medium Pardo coq de leon

Body:  Spirit River Golden Stone dubbing

Body Hackle:  Whiting Farms Cream saddle hackle, size 18 or finer

Wings:  Enrico Puglisi Trigger Point Quick Silver (do not add too much winging material)

Hackle:  Whiting Farms Ginger saddle tied off behind wings, as male.

The Macquarie Red – Male - as adapted and designed by Mick Hall


Hook:  Mustad R72

Size:  14-12

Tail:  A few strands of dark medium Pardo coq de leon

Body:  Spirit River Golden Stone dubbing

Body Hackle:  Whiting Farms small brown saddle hackle, at least size 18 or smaller

Wings:  Enrico Puglisi Trigger Point Quick Silver (do not add too much winging material)

Hackle:  Whiting Farms furnace saddle size to match, tie in at head and tie off behind wings if you so choose.

Female Imago A. australis

I do not wish to take anything away from David Scholes or Max Christensen’s work but I can’t leave the subject by adding that there is two different coloured insects here, hence I have created two variations arising from Max’s original pattern that you might like to try.