Friday, September 29, 2006

Presenting Crane Flies: What A Drag!

Like many fly anglers, when I hear crane fly I think of the larva patterns that resemble an over-stuffed burrito. These patterns can be bounced along the bottom of many rivers much like a San Juan Worm to catch some very large trout. These chubby looking larvae eventually crawl out of the streams and burrow into the ground to pupate. Emergence of the adults around many of our rivers tends to occur in the beginning of the summer and again towards September and October. These adults which transform into 'Chernobyl Mosquitoes' look nothing like the larval stage, but apparently keep some of their lunchtime qualities in the eyes of trout.

Until a recent trip to the Cache la Poudre River just outside of Ft Collins, Colorado I had rarely witnessed an adult crane fly being snatch from flight by a lurking trout. It was getting to the latter half of the afternoon and I was patiently waiting for the PMD's to make an appearance when I saw one of these adults gliding across the surface. Just after making it past the main current the surface exploded and I let out a resounding, "Yeah". I continued to toss my PMD's and began seeing some of the fruits off of this traditional tree, but could not help myself from being distracted by the occasional eruption of these crane fly-crazed trout.

Knowing that there were not any adult crane fly patterns in my fly box I picked out a big gray drake pattern and applied a fair amount of floatant. Making a down-and-across cast in the general area of the feeding and I would use a high sticking method to drag the fly against the current. There is no need to set the hook. These strikes are so aggressive you only need to contain yourself from making one of those noises you hear on the bass fishing shows. The adults cruise the surface at a decent pace so you will want to match the appropriate speed which is more important than matching the exact shape a color of the naturals. It is also crucial to keep the fly hovering high, once the pattern becomes saturated and goes below the surface during the drag the gig is up.

After about a half an hour of this uniquely exciting dry fly fishing, I continued to see the occasional adult crane fly cruising the surface. Only now I was rooting for the insect with my selfish considerations in mind for next year.

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