Category Archives: Fly Tying Materials & Supplies

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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Stoneflies with Color

Guest Blogger: Clay Cunningham, Cody WY, Former National Park Superintendent

Pteronarcy californica stonefly

In the Western waters when the Pteronarcy californica stonefly hatches, the fish abandon any elusiveness they may have possessed. Known as the Salmon Fly, it is one of the largest of the stoneflies. During the hatch if you didn’t see one land on you, you might think it was a bird. In the Yellowstone drainages the hatch can begin from the end of May to early June. This varies throughout the park depending on the water temperature at different elevations of the park. At higher elevations, a close relative of the californica species, the princeps species will hatch later than the californica.

The Salmon fly Pteronarcy californica spend up to three years as a nymph before emerging. During the months prior to the hatch in any one year there are three sizes of nymphs under the water in various stages of development. The nymphs are often the most numerous species in Western rivers and streams. It is wise to have some imitation of these prolific nymphs. After the hatch, there are two sizes that remain until their complete development. Just prior to a hatch, the generation that is about to hatch migrate from their rocky hiding places to shallow water where they eventually crawl out of the water and attach to nearby rocks or vegetation. That is where their husks split open and the wings emerge. It is the clumsy flying egg laying females that fly low over the water or settle on the water and deposit their egg’s while the fish are voraciously feeding. more…