The Magical Crane Fly Larvae
Over the years I have not found many rivers that don’t hold some species of crane fly larvae. According to the experts there’s apparently 500 different types in North America. I’m no expert but that’s a lot so, you’re bound to find them in waters near you.
I first came across these things many years ago on the South Platte River during a big flow increase. They floated down river by the hundreds. As I watched these huge larvae squirm and wiggle their way through the currents I observed trout exploding on these big bites. It was very impressive to watch these trout going nuts! They came out of nowhere to suck these creatures in like it was their last meal. On that day I knew I had to fish crane fly larva and I needed to find a pattern that worked.
After many Trials with crane fly patterns I just couldn’t lock into one that worked very well. To match the size, shape and color of crane fly larva is not an easy thing to do. Especially matching the translucency and two tone colorations. Then a few years back I had a crazy idea after some stream samples from my fellow Guide Chris Stienbeck. The Shafer’s Gummy Crane came to life and I matched my pattern the best I could with a little secret hidden sweet spot underneath the translucent squirmy material. About a week later I tied up a few of my new bugs and gave them to Chris and he gave me that look of “what the hell is this!”. I told him just to fish the damn things. He proceeded to rail about ten fish in a row on them and I asked for a couple back. We proceeded to destroy a whole section of river on these things. To this day I continuously have a Shafer’s Gummy Crane on my rigs and it has proven to be a fish-attracting workhorse.
I get endless questions on how to fish these bad boys. The simple answer is, however you want just put one on your line. We all know that’s not appropriate so I’ll share with you a little on how I put Shafer’s gummy crane to work. Under an indicator on rivers or lakes (might be a hint) is the first way to go about running these guy’s. Use it as an attractor in a two or three fly rig or move it to the point (last fly) in deeper slower runs. Tight line systems I almost always have it on the point and I use the standard gummy as well as the beaded version if I need a little more weight. Another great way to run the Shafer’s gummy crane is in a streamer setup with a leach pattern on the dropper and the gummy on the point about twenty inches apart. Add a few 2-4 inch choppy strips with a pause and wait for the explosions. If you incorporate this fly into your game I’m sure you will be surprised at how well it draws our fishy friends in.
One last thing, the naming of this fly came from watching numerous fish literally chew on this while landing them. It’s pretty crazy stuff but the cool thing is once they munch it they don’t let go. Grab a few gummy’s from your local Fulling Mill Dealer or the website and put them to work on your local waters you might just get a chance to see the magic.