Jul 14, 2019
Part of the delay in getting this episode out was fishing (I knew you'd understand). On the positive side, that fishing gave me the opportunity to get some good pictures of crane flies while I was out there.
This is one of my favorites - mostly because it shows what night collecting with a UV light can be like. This was on a little brook trout stream up by the Canadian border where we camped a few weeks ago. The crane fly in the pic was pretty darn big - maybe 2" long. Note all the critters around the crane fly, tho. Those are all mayflies and caddisflies that had come to the light. And yes, the fishing was good.
Here is another crane fly - taken on another trip this spring. What I like about this guy is that he is only about 1/2" long - so you can see (well, you can't without scale, but believe me) the variation in size of these critters. Tie up some smaller guys - they don't all have to be giants. I also like this picture because you can easily see the halteres - the reduced second pair of wings that are distinctive of order Diptera - the flies:
In the podcast I mentioned how some crane flies have cool patterns on the legs - which make them very distinctive when they fly. Obligingly, this guy appeared on another recent fishing trip:
OK, how about some flies. Here is what I use for the adults. This is a bit of a fancy version in that I added a parachute hackle to the thorax - often I don't bother. It is simply a foam body, knotted monofilament legs, and hackle tip wings. Really not much to it:
The larvae are also pretty simple to tie. To imitate that swimming motion adding a tail is worthwhile. This fellow is simply a leather strip tied down with a tail and wrapped to the head. The strip is the fringe from a cheesy 1960s style vest my ex-wife gave my daughter when she was little. She didn't dig it, so it ended up in my fly tying pile.
Lastly, probably my favorite and most useful crane fly imitation is simply a hare's ear body dubbed on a large scud hook. I mean really - what's not to like about this fly? Simple, buggy, effective. Can't beat it:
That's it - now get out there and fish!