Tyrrell's Crane Fly - Irish Angler Magazine August 2010

  • by James Tyrrell
Tyrrell's Crane Fly - Irish Angler Magazine August 2010

What can be said about this pattern only that it is a fly that almost every angler has heard of and used at some stage? Jimmy Tyrrell tells you how to tie his version of the Daddy.

Crane flies are more commonly known as ‘Daddies’ or ‘Harries’ and are of great interest to anglers during late summer. This is a great pattern to use from late July through to September. It can be used not only for brown trout and rainbows but also for sea trout and salmon on the loughs. If you have ever had the experience of seeing these flies get blown onto the river or lough and then seen them disappear very quickly after being taken by fish it becomes clear why the trout like them. The natural comes in a variety of sizes, but it is the larger ones that are of most interest to the angler. It’s a big fly and a bonus for any feeding trout in the vicinity of any Daddies getting blown onto the water.

The larva is of no interest to the fly angler as it is a land-bred insect. It’s only when it transforms into the adult which sometimes gets carried on to the water on a breeze that it becomes food for the trout. That’s why the natural insect was traditionally used for dapping on the loughs. It’s a fly that will often tempt a nice trout to the surface when there is no other fly life around. They get blown onto the surface of the water and when they start to struggle in the surface film will often catch the attention of a good trout. So it pays to twitch the fly line to give the fly a bit of life, creating small ripples in the water.

On the river, this is a great fly to put up on those balmy summer days when there’s nothing happening and the water levels are low. Cast into a nice pool it will sometimes bring a decent fish to the surface.

"This is a great pattern to use from late July through to September. It can be used not only for brown trout and rainbows but also for sea trout and salmon on the loughs."

Daddies can be fished wet or dry, dry being the most popular method. Although the dry pattern is probably the most common style I do occasionally get people asking me to tie the wet Daddies. I like to tie my daddies in as lifelike a manner as possible and don’t like to overdress them with too much hackle, just enough to make the fly float on the water. It is not really a difficult fly to imitate and most imitations will take fish, I don’t even think it’s that necessary to add wings as they tend to get broken off after a bit of use, but I like to add them as I think it gives the fly more of a realistic appearance.

Daddies are tied with a vast array of different materials, but floss and raffia are probably the most common. Raffia is probably used more frequently than any other. You can get this material in lots of different shades, but I often use a waterproof marker to colour the body if I haven’t got the one I want. And then there are people who have there own favourite patterns and colours. The Silver Daddy is very popular pattern when fished wet using a softer hackle at the head and the wings sloping back over the body. This is used to imitate a drowned daddy long legs and also catches its share of fish.

One of my favourite patterns is the Spanflex Daddy. This material is the same as an elastic band and gives a nice segmented body to the fly. You can even use an elastic band if you can’t find Spanflex. I have tied up a this pattern using Spanflex for the body. It comes in a large range of colours and widths and can be used to tie a lot of other patterns.

It’s a relatively easy pattern to tie. The hardest part is probably knotting the legs. You can buy various tools to do this, or you can even buy the legs pre-knotted and in a huge variety of different colours, but I prefer the natural colour for this pattern. I find knotting them by hand is easier with practice. Sometimes I sit watching the television tying up the legs and it’s surprising how many you can do in a couple of hours.

Tyrrell's Crane Fly

Hook: Size 10 Kamasan B170
Tying Silk: Danvilles
Body: Spanflex
Legs: Cock Pheasant Centre Tail
Wings: Cree Hackle Tips
Hackle: Cree Cock

Tying Instructions

Tyrrell's Crane Fly tying instructions 1Step One: Wind on the tying silk to form an even base for the body.
Tyrrell's Crane Fly tying instructions 2Step Two: Tie in the length of Spanflex at the rear.
Tyrrell's Crane Fly tying instructions 3Step Three: Apply some vanish to the tying silk.
Tyrrell's Crane Fly tying instructions 4Step Four: Wind the Spanflex up the hook shank in touching turns, stopping about a third of the way.
Tyrrell's Crane Fly tying instructions 5Step Five: Tie in a bunch of knotted legs and divide them.
Tyrrell's Crane Fly tying instructions 6Step Six: Select two nice well-marked Cree hackle tips for the wings.
Tyrrell's Crane Fly tying instructions 7Step Seven: Tie in the hackle tips and divide them by going between them with the tying thread.
Tyrrell's Crane Fly tying instructions 8Step Eight: Tie in head hackle.
Tyrrell's Crane Fly tying instructions 9Step Nine: Wind on the hackle, tie off, whip finish and varnish the head.

Tying Tips

Tip 1: Use the centre tail from a cock pheasant as it has the longest fibres which are a lot easier to use when tying up the legs.
TIP 2: Apply some varnish to the tying silk on the hook shank to secure the Spanflex before you start to form the body.
TIP 3: Make sure to keep the tying thread flat with no bumps before winding up the body.
TIP 4: Make a few turns of the Spanflex at the start to create a bump before winding up the shank.
TIP 5: Wind the body on in overlapping turns to give a segmented effect.
TIP 6: Don’t over hackle the fly – four or five turns is sufficient.


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