Damsel Flies

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Paradamsel Pearl Wing Blue Damsel Pearl Wing Olive Damsel

This newly hatched Damsel Fly will turn bright blue as it dries.

Damsel flies are those delicate, iridescent cousins of the dragon flies that you see around lakes and slower streams during the summer months; usually June, July and August. They are highly predacious during both their nymph and adult life. They eat other smaller aquatic insects. As such they are near the top of the food chain and are very dependent on healthy populations of may flies and midges. In alpine lakes, damsel flies may be of such sparse populations as to draw little attention from trout. In shallow alkaline lakes with ample weed beds, damsel flies can reach such unbelievable populations that the entire margin of the shore line is painted bright blue for miles. In these lakes, damsel flies in all stages are aggressively fed upon by all the fish that live there.
 The most common damsel fly specie in Oregon wears adult colors of bright iridescent blue that is outlined in black. The eyes are prominent in the silhouette. The body is long and thin and the blue parts are semi-translucent. When the insect lies spent upon the water, the long delicate wings are nearly clear. Often they are lying with others of their kind, on glassy slick water which gives the trout the perfect opportunity for complete inspection and comparison. Your fly has to be an exact counterfeit to fool them. Under these circumstances the Pearl Wing Blue Damsel is often your best choice as a fly.  However this fly is not a good floater and must be cast delicately to be of value.  When the water surface is textured by wind or long aggressive casts are needed the Foam Body Paradamsel Fly is a better choice.
Damsels hatching by crawling out on a shoreline rock. Photo by Mark Bachmann - hand held camera.
Damsel Fly nymphs hatch by crawling above the surface of the water. When blue damsels first emerge from the nymphal shuck, they are light-olive or even yellowish in color, and turn to their adult colors as the skin dries and hardens. In certain rich desert lakes, damsels hatch in masses and some rocks, sticks or dead trees become encrusted with damsel shucks with hundreds or even thousands of damsels emerging on one structure. Some of these olive hatchlings fall into the water where they are doomed. Trout often congregate around structures where damsels are emerging. They acquire a taste for olive damsels very quickly.
Male Damsels holding female Damsels as they lay eggs in floating vegetation. Photo by Mark bachmann - hand held camera. Picture shot from a float tube.

After damsels mate, the female crawls down a plant stalk and lays her eggs under water. This is accomplished by her drilling a hole in the stalk with a specially designed auger on her tail end. Then she deposits her eggs inside the plant. This is an exhausting process while holding your breath. When the female crawls back up the plant stalk and reaches the surface, the male damsel flies down and picks her from the surface of the water and deposits her where she can dry and regain her strength. During this whole process these insects are extremely vulnerable to cruising trout or bass. Sometimes the male damsel hovers above the surface of the water holding the female as she deposits her eggs. These flies are often stalked by feeding fish. You will notice from the pictures that female damsels are more dull in color than their male counterparts. The Pearl Wing Olive Damsel can be a good pattern for simulating female damsels.

Better have some of these patterns in your lake box.

Adult male Damsel - copied from Wikipedia Male and female damsel flies copulating. Copied from Wikipedia.

Foam Body Paradamsel Fly
This fly is designed to float.  The body is made from soft pliable sealed cell foam polymer.  As such it is lighter than water. The large parachute hackle simulates wings and adds to the flies floatation.  Fish this fly along weed beds and shore lines when game fish are targeting damsels on the surface.
Item Description Size Price To Top
06293-12 Foam Body Paradamsel Fly  12 3 for $5.85

Pearl Wing Blue Damsel
This pattern was designed for maximum realism to fool super selective fish. It may be fished wet or dry. To fish this pattern dry, coat it with fly floatant and cast it delicately.  After damsels mate, the female crawls down a plant stalk and lays her eggs under water. In the perfect situation the female returns to the surface of the water and a male Damsel flies down and plucks her from the water where she dries and regains her strength.  However many female are intercepted by fish before the reach the surface.  Fishing your Pearl Wing Blue Damsel wet can often be very effective.
Item Description Size Price To Top
03160-12 Pearl Wing Blue Damsel 12 3 for $5.85

Pearl Wing Olive Damsel
When blue damsels first emerge from the nymphal shuck, they turn from green to olive and turn to their adult colors as the adult skin dries and hardens. Some of these green or olive hatchlings fall into the water where they are doomed. Trout often congregate around structures where damsels are emerging. They acquire a taste for olive damsels very quickly.
Item Description Size Price To Top
03161-12 Pearl Wing Olive Damsel 12 3 for $5.85

The key to success is "understanding".  You can never know enough.
Understanding the organisms that trout feed on is one of the keys to catching trout.
The Hatch Guide For Western Streams by Jim Schollmeyer 
is great reference material for the trout fisher.
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