This is one tricky bug to imitate! One look at the naturals leaves most tiers wondering how to achieve the appearance with an artificial. At least DanJ and I wondered! Earlier this season I gave him one of my extended-body cranes to try out. Until this year, most of the cranes I experimented with were dubbed-bodied parachutes with over-sized hackle. They yielded the odd fish, but not the fussy ones. I can’t remember how it worked out for him, but it wasn’t long before he gave me a couple of his cranes that were improved versions of my own. I tinkered with his design and the result is the pattern here. The knot in the legs he used did lend a great deal of realism to the fly. Because its a bit of a pain to do, I tried the pattern without the knots~more refusals than hook-ups. I use microfibbetts, but you can substitute any stiff fiber close in color.
A note on fishing these;Like the naturals, these are low-riding. Use floatant sparingly on the chenille, wings and legs. Once you hook a fish, the fly won’t look as pretty or symmetrical~that’s fine! Dry it off and keep fishing. Lots of cranes get caught in the surface film while attempting to hatch, their legs often all facing in one direction. So, a less than perfect crane will still catch fish, they’re used to seeing them in a messy state!

Tying The Crane Fly Pattern

Hook:Mustad C49S Size#18
Thread:8/0 Rusty Dun
Legs:Med. dun microfibbetts, knot approx. 3/8" from the tip
Abdomen:Cream-colored micro chenille
Wings:Med. dun hackle tips
Head:Tan CDC
Align two of the prepared microfibbett legs and tie in facing back, as shown.


Add a drop of thinned head cement to secure the tie-in point.

Align the 4 remaining prepared microfibbett legs and tie in facing forward as shown, secure tie-in with head cement as before.

Cut a short pc. of micro chenille and carefully singe the tip with a lighter. Tie-in as shown.

Select 2 matching hackle tips and tie them in as shown, one at a time. Pull 2 legs back from the front and secure them with figure-8 wraps. They should be facing outward/to the back.

Tie in the tan CDC feather by the tip and wind (using hackle pliers) to create the head. Separate the remaining 2 legs facing forward with figure eight wraps of thread. Tie-off.

The finished fly.

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