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Posted in Tying Dry Flies | This article was written by Rob O'Reilly

Crane Fly Pattern

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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