Hey Guys -
I've only had memorable fishing to hatches of cranefly on the Beaverhead. They are the little yellow guys that kinda look like little sulfur mayflies in the air with their legs trailing back like tails. The best fly I found by far was the Tup's Indispensable wingless wet sans tails and with a longer hackle than normal all crumpled up. I don't have any left in my boxes that I can find, so I'm hoping Mark (Softhackle) reads this and can put one up to show. Though it's a wet fly, I fished it floating in the film. It far outperformed any other pattern at the time and was deadly.
The larger craneflies (Mosquito Hawks, Daddy Long Legs) never constitute a hatch per se, but always seem to be out and about near water in the Summer, particularly if there's a lot of lawns nearby. Below is my interpretation of a great pattern from the creative mind of Bob Quigley (I wished I had come up with it). It is one of the coolest, buggiest flies I've ever seen, and the design features are nothing short of genius. It has the lightness & ethereal quality of a skater combined with an accurate silhouette. The sparse unstacked tail and the oversized hackle wound both parachute and conventional simulates the legs going every which way quite well. The hair "bubble" simulates the silhouette of the thorax beautifully without adding weight. The 2x long dry fly hook gives the shank length to work with, but also keeps the weight down. Though it presents a great likeness, it is still literally 'as light as a feather'.
I remember fooling around with it on a stream in the Sierra's when an interesting thing happened. I was skating it around, getting a kick out of the little tiddlers attacking (but missing) it constantly. After a few more casts and performances in the same pool, one precocious youngster in particular whacked it three times in a row on successive twitches, the last time swapping ends in an awkward belly flop. After that last move, I was laughing so hard I just left my fly sitting there sodden on the surface. That's when Grandpa rolled on it with a whale breach. He was just letting the little guys do the work for him!:)
Actually, I think what happened is all the fish activity at the surface stirred him to life. I'm sure he would have preferred one of the little guys that scurried away but at least the stunned cranefly was something for his labors!:) He went a little over 2 ft...
Anyway, here's the fly.