Common Names: Cranefly, daddy longlegs, mosquito killer, mosquito eater
Scientific Name: family Tipulidae

Like midges, craneflies are two-winged insects, but they are significantly bigger than midges. The larva looks like an overweight worm and is often a pale, creamy color. Some make their home underwater, living in woody debris, algae, and other underwater vegetation. But most cranefly larvae live in damp soil above the waterline.

This terrestrial habitat would make it seem that imitations of cranefly larvae are of no use to anglers. Wrong! Strong rains or sudden rises in the river level can wash them into the current where they are taken by trout. So a cranefly larva pattern dead-drifted near the bank of a swollen creek can be very effective.

Adult craneflies can be important, too. If you're on a small, cool stream at dusk, a cranefly imitiation can be your ticket to success. They can be very successful on larger waters, too, and are an anticpated mid- to late-summer event on some major rivers. A skating presentation is often effective with adult patterns.

Cranefly imitations are available in some shops (ask). Because the pattern will vary from shop to shop, cranefly imitations are not inlcuded in Westfly's list of standard flies. For some excellent patterns and advice on craneflies, see the articles listed in the sidebar.


LARVA COLOR: Pale olive, gray-olive, dark gray

ADULT SIZE: 5-25 mm (3/16 to 1 in)

ADULT COLOR: Wings--mottled brown. Body--Brown, tan, cream, gray

OTHER CHARACTERISTICS: Larva--large and tubular; the head is often pulled inside, making the larva look headless or worm-like. Adult--long legs and, typically, mottled brown wings.