Damsel Fly Nymphs

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No Name Damsel Sierra Damsel
Picky Fish Damsel Bachmann's Damsel, Tan

Damsel Fly hatch 1990, Patty Barnes and a beautiful rainbow caught on a damsel fly nymph.

Damsel Flies are those delicate iridescent blue or red insects that you see flying around lakes and ponds. In the nymphal stage they range from olive to tan, are free swimming and often exposed to cruising trout. Bass and Pan Fish will also feed heavily on Damsel Fly nymphs.   Damsel fly nymphs are strong swimmers. While swimming the body of the nymph undulates very much like a fish.

When hunting for food, nymphs usually swim in short erratic bursts at a slight upward angle and then slowly settle while they rest. This swimming motion is fairly violent, but only carries the nymph a few inches. This action is very noticeable and is a definite key. Your retrieve should duplicate this swimming movement. Most anglers retrieve their damsel

Patty nails another one at Crane Prairie.
nymphs too fast. Damsel nymphs can be productive as soon as the ice leaves your favorite lake. The smaller early season niads or immature nymphs are usually light olive green. Fishing a Sierra Damsel nymph very slowly, within inches of the bottom with a sinking fly line is often productive. Since the water can be cold this time of the year, the strikes can be very soft. Every angler has to stay alert.

During May and early June the water starts to warm. Predacious damsel fly nymphs hunt vigorously in and around under water vegetation. They become a staple fish food. Fishing a Picky Fish Damsel within inches of the weed tops can bring savage strikes. The fly must be fished slowly.
An intermediate or slow sinking fly line, such as the Mastery "Still Water" can aid this presentation.

Damsels are most vulnerable to trout during their migration to hatch on above-surface structure. (Such as this half submerged dead tree, at right. Every crack and groove is full of damsel nymph shucks.)

In lakes such a Crane Prairie, damsels can migrate in such masses that they can create nervous water like miniature moving shoals of fish.

The trout can become so gorged as to become very difficult to catch. The fish will key only on cripples. During these times try a Picky Fish Damsel retrieved very slowly, just under the surface, or dress the foam wing case with floatant and fish it dead in the surface film like a dry fly. Very long leaders with fluorocarbon tippets will get the most takes. Target fish that are cruising.

Thousands of Damsel Fly shucks fill the grooves in this weathered tree trunk.


No Name Damsel

Damsel fly nymph color varies from lake to lake. The long, sparse marabou tail gives this fly a swimming action. It can look like several differene stillwater orgnisms. Fish this fly very slowly. First thing in the spring, use a floating & long leader in very shallow water.

Item Description Size Price To Top
11336 No Name Damsel 12 3 for $5.85

Picky Fish Damsel

As damsel fly nymphs mature, they turn darker and this is an average color in many lakes. The long, sparse marabou tail gives this fly a swimming action. Fish this fly very slowly. When Damsels hatch during mid-summer, use a floating & long leader in very shallow water. It is almost like fishing for bone fish.

Item Description Size Price To Top
119938 Picky Fish Damsel 12 3 for $8.25

Sierra Damsel

This is the all season pattern for many lakes.  Fish this fly deep along the bottom.  Give it several very short fast strips and then let it set for a long period. Often you will be surprised trout often take the fly while it is not moving and that you only feel them as you start the next stripping sequence.

Item Description Size Price To Top
13876 Sierra Damsel 12 3 for $7.75

Bachmann's Damsel Nymph, Tan

In some mud bottom lakes damsel nymphs are brownish colored.  This is a top fly in many northwest reservoirs where water level fluctuations prevent plant life from growing in the littoral zone.

Item Description Size Price To Top
9235-12 Bachmann's Damsel Nymph, Tan 12 3 for $5.85
9235-14 Bachmann's Damsel Nymph, Tan 14 3 for $5.85

Jim Schollmeyer has taken aquatic insect photography to a new level. You may review his work in "Hatch Guide for Lakes", which will acquaint you with all of the trout food critters that live in still water.


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Crane Prairie pictures by: Mark Bachmann all rights reserved.

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