Daddy Longlegs (Crane Fly)

by Jonathan

The crane fly is a land based insect which features in the fly fisher’s armoury because it is an ungainly flier and regularly finds it’s way on to lakes and rivers by accident. They usually appear about August time and can be quite an abundant food source for the trout either on the surface or as they get caught up in the surface film and drown.

Their long legs make them very distinctive and all the imitative patterns are based on this feature. They can be tied with a detached body on short shank hooks or wool body tied on a long shank hook, there are even gold bead versions.

The most common and certainly an effective pattern is tied with hackle point wings and knotted cock pheasant tail fibres for the legs on a long shank size 10 hook. The most trying part of this fly is tying the knots in the pheasant tail fibres. Try to acquire the centre tail feathers from a mature cock bird. These fibres will be longer and stronger. I also tie two together at the same time, it saves time and the trout do not seem to notice.

A variant of the daddy long legs is the hopper. For this pattern don’t give it wings and tie a seals fur dubbed body with lurex ribbing.

  • Hook – Long shank size 10
  • Tying thread – Brown
  • Body – Brown wool or floss
  • Rib ( optional ) – Fine copper wire
  • Wing – 2 brown grizzle hackles over back
  • Legs – 2 pairs of knotted cock pheasant tail fibres each side of the body
  • Hackle – Brown cock hackle

For the Hopper

  • Body – Seals fur ( any colour )
  • Rib – Lurex silver or gold
  • Hackle – Colour to match

Happy Fishing from Dave C and the Team

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard July 31, 2008 at 11:15 pm

Great videos, could horses hair be used for daddy legs as it should be easiar to knot than pheasant tail due to its longer length?

topflyman July 20, 2008 at 3:14 pm

Hi Lars
Thank you for your comments.
Have a good trip to Norway. Skied there, met my lovely wife there and have had some good holidays there, but not with a fishing rod.
Happy Fishing
DaveC. and the Team

Lars A July 17, 2008 at 3:14 pm

Hi David,
I enjoyed all your videos. It’s great job you do. You inspire me to tie more flies. I live in Sweden and next month I will go fishing in the mountains of Norway.
Thanks for your good site!

topflyman June 30, 2008 at 6:47 pm

Hi Tim
Thanks for your comments all the way from Canada. We do try to keep the job simple and pleasurable.
If I ever make it to Canada I will let you know and give you plenty time to get the Brandy bottle out.
Happy Fishing
DaveC. and the Team.

topflyman June 30, 2008 at 6:42 pm

Hi Ladybird
Nice to have another Lady writing in.
Mayfly patterns are numerous, but as always I have found the simpest the most effective
Hook lt. wt longshank size10
tail 3 strands cockpheasant tail fibres 1cm long.
body straw coloured wool
rib brown thread
hackles 1 cree cock hackle
hackle 2 olive cock hackle
Tie them in together wind 1 forward 4 turns tie in
wind2 through hackle1 4/5 turns and tie off at head. varnish head.
It is easier than it sounds.

topflyman June 30, 2008 at 6:20 pm

Hi Dennis
Thanks for the enlarged picture. I am sure I can do you a pattern which will be a paasable imitation… only the trout will be the ultimate judge. Jon says he can find the means of communicating with you to get the samples to you.
The wrists are much better today and the swelling has gone down on my knee so I should be up and running soon. I am doing a fishdrop on Wed. so I will have to be sorted for that.
It is no consolation to me that other people do themselves a mischief on the river bank. There is no way these days I could put in those long hours, and I am only 71yrs. God knows what I will be like when I get old.
Happy fishing
DaveC. and the Team

Dennis June 29, 2008 at 8:06 pm

Hi again Dave,

Got a better picture for you. that is what i see alot of down by the river. and they are about that size, I was using a parashute grey duster to try and immitate them. and certainly had a few nibbles, to be exact i had 7 cathes and about 7 which some how got off the hook or snapped the line, or i just badly tied the knot on the fly.

Let me know when you are thinking about going, when you are fit and well again and we will arrange a day or two. your not the only one to have a fall, i managed to slide down a bank. got a few nice bruses but came off fine. my wrist is husting the most, strained it from 1 weeks fishing from 10am-7pm each day.

topflyman June 29, 2008 at 1:15 pm

Hi Dennis
thanks for your reply. The aches and pains dont seem too bad today. fortunately my right hand fared best and I will be on the bench at the vice and having a go later . Once I am up and running I will contact you and I would enjoy a day out with you.
The picture of the fly is on the small side to identify. When Jon come over I will get him to enlarge it and I will see what I can come up with. We videod an egg fly just before we went on holiday and he intends putting it up in the next few days. I have to do the intro write up today.
Happy Fishing
DaveC. and the Team

Dennis June 29, 2008 at 12:09 pm

Hi dave,

Sorry to hear that, hopefully you will still be able to teach me a few fly tying tricks.
That is a genuine open offer, if you ever require a few days in stafford just let me know and i can sort you some day passes out. I have fishing rights for myself and 8 guests for about 1 mile of the river dove, most places you can fish from the bank. but some you need to wade, there are brown & rainbow trout, grayling and salmon in there. altho the salmon have to go back in, as they are trying to stock the river with them so people can fish for them.

What are these, do you have any patterns for them? As i see millions of these by the river. they look abit like a mayfly but i dont think they are, as they are much smaller than a standard mayfly.

topflyman June 28, 2008 at 10:04 pm

Hi Dennis
Thanks for your comments and info. I fish the Derwent at Willersley in the summer when I can get up there, but do spend more time there in the winter months fishing for the grayling. I do sometimes venture to the Dove at Church Mayfield and that river is something special. Just back today after a week in upper Teesdale. The weather was wild and the fishing disappointing. I ended up taking a heavy tumble on the rocks and will be out of action for a while( cannot grip my rod or walk any distance). Hopefully I will be able to tie flies.
Happy Fishing
Dave C. and the Team

Dennis June 27, 2008 at 1:59 am

Hi Dave,

Great site, I use to do alot of fly tying. but stop as all my rods and gear got stolen, but i have recently repalced it all. I had forgotten alot of things. but you site has helped me remeber all the tips and tricks, and for that i am most greatfull. I have made a few, but i have mainly benifited from the technics. to make the ones that i know work well on the river dove where i fish, I get several guest passes per year. if u are ever near staffordshire let me know and i will happily get you a day pass or two,

Just to let you know the flies i have been tying are the gray duster, both normal and parachute style, and a few other which i have made up, but look like the flies down by the river. I have also made a few grubs like your lesson 3, as i knew these work well there. infact i caught a nice big one the other day on one similarr to it.

Many thanks again.


P.S. A new trick i learnt which may help people, is that if ur monofilament line floats it can spook the fish. you can make it sink easily with some fairy liquid, simple put some on a tissue and then rub the line with it. you really dont need much tho. you dont want to contaminate the water.

The aim is just to get the grease form you fingers off the line. As its the grease form your fingers that makes it float, just thought that may help someone. and the bigger fish are clever and i had loads spooked at the weekend due to floating leader line.

ladybird June 21, 2008 at 8:51 am

hi David, Thank you for helping me get things right with the fly tying, my husband is the fisherman but i like the fly tying thanks to you, can you do a video of how to do a may fly as i having a little trouble. another thing how do you know what hook does what flies any rules to go by? once again thank you and to the entire team


frank (the irish angler) June 20, 2008 at 11:50 pm

hi dave just tuned into your lastest lesson and look up your reply to my last comments .now do you do it all were do you get the time fare play to you .I was asking you last month to tie some salmon flies or tube flies but to tie a trout fly called the (murragha) this is a big dry fly tied on a number 8 hook that only hatches 1st week in June in wild mountain lakes ,and on the 2nd or the 3rd week of June it is followered by a sister fly call a green peter, currently fishing using it just as the sun go’s down .IN WILD IRISH MOUNTAIN LAKES . Just had a few Scothlish guys over with me for nine days fishing and they coulden get over this big fly hatching and the big brownies that came up after them one guy Craig from Dundee got 15 wild brownies ranging from 1 lb to his personnal best now of 6.7lbs in one night .All released again to fight another day or to grow even bigger his choice nice one Craig .Yes Dave I would agree that the seals and the comards and black divers take a few Salmon but the old shark and the whale take the seals such is the law of the jungle.But too many anglers take wild fish for the freezer let it be salmon or wild trout. A 3lb trout can lay 8000 eggs a 15lb salmon 30000 eggs think of the fishing guys in 18 months time .If you ever fancy wild fly fishing and are bepaired to walk 3 to 5 mile into wild Irish mountain lakes then you are welcome any time we’il fix you up with rod licence just bring your own gear you may have to match the hatch .Catching the fish on the fly even the old pike is a great feeling catching the fish with a fly one has tied is another dimension keep up the good work .Will be on the Tay and the Sprey next month the Scotlish guys are returning the hospitality hope to catch a few silver gods and as we let them go on the jounrey again we’il take out the hip have a snip wish them luck and ask them to tell the bernes about us and we’il tell or bernes about them. Its not about how many fish one brings home guys it’s about the amount you let go to fight another day .tight lines fokes good luck Dave keep up the good work . FRANK

Tim June 18, 2008 at 9:31 pm

Wonderful. Just finished watching up to here. I’ve been tying for about 4 weeks and this information is very helpful. It keeps me at the bench even more.

Thank you very much for taking the time to produce these videos (thanks to the entire team). Not sure I could take you anywhere that fun to fish where I live, but a beer on me is a guarantee if you’re ever in my neck of the woods.

If you’re looking for ideas, I am having problems getting the wings on my Blae & Blacks, so…

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

topflyman June 17, 2008 at 8:46 am

Hi Jack
We will be doing another fairly soon. Jon is very busy at the moment and I am off on another fishing week to Teesdale. Keep on practicing it gets easier the more you do.
We are thinking of doing a DVD if there is enough interest.
Happy Fishing
Dave C. and the Team

Jack June 15, 2008 at 8:17 am

I’ve just made you Black Buzzer last night my ver first tie :D, i’ve downloaded all of them as well in case youtube deletes them as they do, i was wonderinwhen your releasing your next video


topflyman May 31, 2008 at 8:18 am

Hi old smuggler
Thanks for another message from the Argentine.
The hackles used for the wings can be either cree or grizzle cock cape.
The head hackle brown cock cape.
Hope this helps
Happy Fishing
Dave C. and the Team

topflyman May 31, 2008 at 8:14 am

Hi Graham
Dont worry about the numbers of legs! Tying the PT in twos is just saving time and I have not had a trout yet that complained about too many legs on my hoppers and daddies.
Happy Fishing
DaveC.and the Team

Graham J May 28, 2008 at 10:28 pm

Hi David.
Another clear informative lesson. Being new to fly tying I was wondering how you got the legs done. Its certainly easier doing them in pairs rather than individually.Would you allways go for 8 legs as I have seen some patterns with 6 ?
Keep up the good work


oldsmugglerflyfishing May 28, 2008 at 3:21 pm

Very nice tying David! Also very nice t-shirt! 😉

I use a similar one on spring time, in rivers with long grass in the shores.

One question, what kind of hackle did you use? I didn´t hear well in the begining of the video and my hearind English isn´t good….


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