J. Stockard Fly Fishing Blog

Welcome to the J. Stockard Fly Fishing Blog. We’re here to share advice, how-to’s, news and inspiration about fly tying and fly fishing.

The Giant Crane Fly

Guest Blogger: Mary S. Kuss, Life-long avid angler, licensed PA fishing guide, founder of the Delaware Valley Women’s Fly Fishing Association

Even if your knowledge of entomology is rather limited, it’s a virtual certainty that you’ve seen the adult form of the Giant Crane Fly. These are the huge, long-legged creatures that resemble a mosquito on steroids and are often seen buzzing around outdoor lights during the warm months of the year. They are, in fact, members of the order Diptera and thus related to mosquitoes, although thank heaven they do not bite!

The larvae are rather shy and retiring, and less likely to be seen by the average person. They are semi-aquatic and live in the moist soil and leaf litter along the edges of streams. If you’re an ice fisherman you may have used a bait called “spikes,” which are Giant Crane Fly larvae.

The first time I ever a Giant Crane Fly larva was at the Stroud Water Research Laboratory, along the White Clay Creek in Avondale, PA. I was there while a student at Widener University, conducting my senior research project. My study did not involve Giant Crane Fly larvae, but I found the work of the professional scientists there of great interest. One day I was wandering around the lab to see what the researchers were up to. I immediately noticed that someone had a kettle of water boiling on a hot plate. I had been schooled that it was very poor form to eat or drink in a laboratory, although I supposed that the pros might be a little less strict about this rule. But no one was making tea. One of the biologists took the kettle over to a Pyrex dish full of big, ugly looking larvae and poured the boiling water on them. I asked what the creatures were, and why they were being exposed to this treatment. I was told that Giant Crane Fly larvae were so tough that this was the best way to kill them relatively humanely. If they were sealed up in a vial of preservative, they would still be alive the next day! more…

Furl and Flash Flies

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

To “Furl” is too roll up, a nautical term that had its origins in the 1500s. Furling sails on booms or yardarms was the method of securing and protecting sails when not in use. When it comes to fly fishing, we are all familiar with “furled leaders”. My introduction to furled flies was when I started tying Walter Wiese’s “Prom Queen” several years ago. Although I’ve never seen it in print, there is a 2008 book by Ken Hanley entitled “Tying Furled Flies” so the technique is not new. In an epiphany moment last fall, I attempted to add some flash to the furled body of a Prom Queen. After a few attempts, I settled on a technique that I’ve expanded to a whole range of patterns.
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Fly of the Month – Sprout Midge Emerger

J. Stockard Pro Tyer: Paul Shurtleff, Springville UT, You can find Paul @: www.instagram.com/insectinside/, www.facebook.com/pauliescustomflies

The following fly pattern is tied to resemble the emergence stage of a midge pupae. This is my Midge Emerger…

Midge insects or diptera (Latin, meaning “2 wings”), are common in most fresh water streams, lakes, rivers and waterways world wide. Midges have many names and are commonly called buzzers, gnats, chironomids, dipterans and a plethora of nicknames for the same type of insect. These insects resemble and are often mistaken for mosquitos, which they are a close relative to, although harmless (as in midges don’t bite you!).

The life cycle of a midge has 4 stages: Egg, Larvae, Pupae (emergence) to an Adult and they hatch year round in most areas, even during the winter months. Midges often hatch in prolific numbers so great that during certain times of the year there can be literally billions of midges gathered into massive clouds of buzzing midges near and over the water. Midges range in size depending on the body of water where they’re found in and are typically anywhere from a hook size of a #8 down to and including a #32. Typically, midges are a little larger when found in lakes and still waters where they’re more commonly called chironomids, but on tail water rivers and streams it’s not uncommon to be fishing with and using midge fly patterns sized #18 and under with tippets smaller than 5x. What midges don’t have in physical size, they more than make up for in their vast numbers. In some areas, midges make up as much as 60% or more of a trout’s diet which make them a staple food source for not only trout, but for all fish species in waters where there are midges. more…