Crane flies begin showing up on spring creeks around February 15th. As the season becomes warmer, their intensity increases, with the greatest intensity in midsummer.
Look for swarms resting on partially submerged deadfall.
Crane flies, like midges, are diptera. The most common Tipula borali. These bugs are yellow or orange when they hatch, but by the time they come down to rest on deadfall they turn gray.
Crane flies like midges and caddis, start life as an egg. The egg develops into a large larva.
(I think the larval stage of a cranefly, is a reason Honeybug Inchworms, Wooly Worms and Wooly Buggers work)
This larva develops into an apple-sized pupa, which develops into an adult Crane fly.
My favorite crane fly is the Little Lehigh Crane fly.
I tie it on a size 18 Mustad 94840 hook.
Start Rusty Brown 8/0 Uni thread at the midpoint. Wind the thread forward to 1½-hook eye lengths from the eye. Wind the thread back to the bend. The start of the bend is directly over the point of the barb. As your bobbin hangs the thread should be in line with the point of the barb.
Wrap the thread forward two or three wraps. Wax the thread. Dub gray muskrat under fur onto the thread and wind sparsely dubbed thread forward to the bare hook shank. Don’t let any dubbed thread onto the bare hook. (This way you won’t ever crowd the head.)
Cover a hook eye length of the remaining bare hook with thread and return the thread to the body. This procedure provides a foundation for the hackle.
Tie in an oversized (size 14 or so) blue dun or Andalusian hackle. Bring the thread to the bare hook. Wind a turn or two of hackle forward to the bare hook and tie off.
Cover the remaining ½ hook eye with thread for the head and whip finish.
You can fish the Crane fly dead drift or with a twitch on the surface film.
You can fish it on the bottom dead drift or with a twitch.
You can fish it in tandem with one on the film and one on the bottom. It’s hard to fish it incorrectly.
The Little Lehigh Fly Shop Crane fly appeals to trout feeding selectively on Crane flies.
It also appeals to trout feeding opportunistically as an attractor pattern.
The LLFS Cranefiy (as most deadly flies) is easy to te and looks the same from all angles.