Damsel Dry Flies

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Damsel Dry Flies
Skagit Compact Kit
Lake Creek, AK
Deschutes Steelhead
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Damsel Dry Flies
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

Airflo Skagit Compact Kit
This is the kit for the serious fly fisher who owns a set of spey rods and likes to fine tune their tackle for exacting presentations. This kit contains a full set of Airflo Skagit compact heads: 420, 450, 480, 510, 540, 570, 600, 630, 660 and 720 grain. I also cantains both 20lb. and 30lb. Ridge Shooting lines. Everything is organized in a sassy Airflo Line & Reel Case. There is plenty of extra room for a couple of Spey reels and an extra spool or two. There are pockets for extra shooting lines, leaders and tips. Everything is enclosed in a compact padded case. When you show up at the lodge with this outfit, everyone will know you are serious. This is the best line organizer for professional fishing guides we have seen.
Airflo Skagit Compact Kit
Item Description Price To Top

SKCKIT

Airflo Skagit Compact Complete Kit $450.00

Airflo Skagit Compact Head loop color identifier.

Lake Creek Alaska
By: Eric Gunter
Eric Gunter with a Lake Creek King Salmon

It began as a trip back to Lake Creek, Alaska, a place I visited 8 years ago.  On my previous trip, five friends and I had floated the entire 50-plus miles stretch of Lake Creek. One of my friends liked the area so much that he bought some acreage on a small lake just off of the creek, and last year he built a cabin on the land. This year's trip was both for work and pleasure: part of our time would be spent finishing the cabin and part of the time would be spent fishing.  Our group consisted of 2 general contractors, a plumbing contractor (the owner of cabin), an electrical contractor and myself (the only non-contractor).  We were under the impression that we were going to run some electrical in the cabin: switches, plugs and lights that would run off of a generator as well as install a sink for dishes and cooking. We planned on chasing large King Salmon the rest of the time.  Our dates were to target the peak of the run.
My Brother-in-law (the electrical contractor­) and I arrived in Anchorage late one afternoon and checked into our hotel.  We met up with the rest of our group (who had arrived a day earlier).  The next morning we went to Rust’s Flying Service to board our float plane and make the

A cabin in the woods in Alaska  60+ mile flight into the cabin.  When we got there and discovered a pile of lumber, plywood and various building supplies we quickly surmised there might be just a bit more work to do than just simple electrical and plumbing additions.  Four of us boarded a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver with our gear and began our flight.  Rick (one of the general contractors) stayed behind to load the lumber into a De Havilland DHC-3 Otter.  A while later both planes landed on the lake and we offloaded our gear and the building supplies. 
Walter: The lake in front of the cabin was thought to be without fish.  Its water is clear with a tree lined shore and many trees have fallen in the water over the years.  Paddling across the lake we had noticed numerous clam shell halves on the bottom and also many caddis hatching from the surface.  We were back at the cabin looking out across the lake and saw a large reddish colored fish jump, clearing the water by about a foot.  Andy and Rick couldn’t stand it.  They had to go investigate.  Rick rigged up his brand new 10wt rod and I tied on a black and blue string leech.  They paddled out to the area we saw the fish jump and began trolling the fly through the water.  It wasn’t long before there was some yelling going on and a fish thrashing the surface of the water.  They had the fish to hand on two occasions but it made one last run. Unfortunately Rick had his rod straight up and it didn’t take much to break it. The fish, a rainbow, was estimated to be at least 10 pounds.  Tim was the next one to try the following evening.  He tied on the same fly and set out.  It wasn’t long before he hooked up, but the fish broke his leader.  The fish was given the name Walter and was hunted for the remainder of the trip not to be hooked again.
We realized just what it was going to take to get to the river from the cabin: a short half mile paddle across the lake then a shorter quarter mile hike up and over a hill to the river.  We then found out that the boat we were going to use was about a mile downstream and on the other side of the river.  So we paddled 2 inflatable whitewater kayaks and our brand spanking new trusty Sevylor 4 person raft (we had to patch it right out of the box) across the lake and landed at the trail to take us to the Greg with a Chinook Jack

river.  We portage the kayaks to the river and the 4 contractors dawned their floatation devices and set off for the boat.  I got to hang out and ply the water within reach with my Winston B2X 9‘5wt attached to a Solitude Black and White Sculpzilla and proceeded to land several beautiful rainbows to 20”.  A couple of hours later the boat arrived with the kayaks.  The boat a 16” Lowe Jon boat with a Honda 40 hp outboard motor had been stowed up off of the river since last August.  There was a broken weld in the stern that had to be patched (there are a lot of rocks in this “Creek”) the motor fired and purred on the first try.  The kayaks were portaged back to the lake where we borrowed a canoe from one of two other cabins on the lake and made our way back to the cabin. The Outhouse was finished and we no longer had to hang our butts out for the mosquitoes.  All of the pieces necessary for a successful trip were in place.  The fun could begin.

Rick with a typical Lake Creek Rainbow Honey Hole:  This was promised to be our place for intercepting our quarry.  We arrived to find salmon rolling and our long awaited dreams of Kings on Flies became present tense.  However, they were lock jawed that day! We had a day plus of constant rain which rose the river and put it off color.  Fish were rising to caddis along the shoreline.  We broke out the 4 and 5 wts throwing small stimulators.  We began catching small grayling and rainbows in water that had about 6 inches of visibility. 

The next day was a work day.  The inside of the cabin was wrapped with Tyvek after the wire had been run, plug, switch and light boxes hung. Then the paneling went up and the loft was built. 

The next day the water dropped and we set out in search of kings.  We traveled down river about a mile to some known holding water and were greeted with lots of rolling fish.  They were a mix of fish that had been in freshwater a while and showed some color and bright fish that had just arrived.  They ranged from what looked like 10+ pounds to 30+ pounds. We hooked several, but lost most for several reasons…the “Honey Hole” is the junction of a side channel and the main channel and running into a slight point of land creating a deep pocket of water with a good flow that the salmon seemed to like to hang around in.  Directly below this hole is a 200 yard long run of white water and directly above is shallow and swift water and these fish typically chose to go downstream.  Granted we had lots of backing but there was no way to bring them back upstream.  I got lucky and hooked two fish that stayed in the hole and managed to land them both.  These we they only 2 kings landed on our trip. 

We found an abundance of Chinook jacks that made there way back to the cabin for dinner and I swung sculpin patterns for trout and jacks. We cast dry flies for grayling and rainbows and drifted nymphs, worms and egg patterns under indicators.  We spent a couple of more days casting for kings but they again refused our offerings. It was time to return Anchorage, but we hadn’t finalized how we were going to do that.  We couldn’t talk the pilots into picking us up on the lake: something about too short of a runway and too much eric Gunter with a Lake Creek Rainbow
weight.  We had to get ourselves and our gear to the mouth of the river.  We needed to run the boat part way down, hide it in the bush, stabilize the fuel and ready the motor for another long sleep.  We managed to talk one of the lodge guides into picking myself and all of our gear up and running me to the mouth.  The rest of our party floated the 6 miles in the kayaks.  The plane was right on time though we expected the Otter as it was the 5 of us and all our gear.  We managed to pack it all in.  The pilot said something like “Well we’ll try and run downstream with the wind and if she won’t fly we’ll turn around and come upstream.”  We took off without any issues and made our way back to Anchorage easily.

Deschutes Steelhead Come Early
Stanley Grand & Mark Bachmann Most of my week was spent on the Deschutes River camped out with Stanley and Lucian Grand; father and son from the mid-west. We were slated to fish for trout and maybe try for steelhead only as a diversion. For the first couple of days air temperatures were in the 90's and nighttime temperatures stayed in the high seventies. The water temperatures climbed also. Hatches of caddis and mayflies disappeared. Few rising trout could be located and even nymph fishing proved to be very tough. We decided that learning to Spey cast would be an 
interesting break from the slow trout fishing. The second morning we took our spey class down river and Stanley hooked, expertly played and landed his first steelhead, ever. For Lucian it went a little slower. That evening a steelhead grabbed Lucian's fly, but didn't stick. I watched the fish come to the fly from high on the bank. The next morning Stanley stuck another nice fish, but after a couple of jumps the leader broke and it went free. The last morning Lucian hooked a good fish that went into the backing, but after an extended fight it wrapped the leader Lucian hooked to a steelhead
off on a sharp rock and sawed the leader in too. When you play big boy games, sometimes the fish wins. Me the steelhead guide, I had a great week with great people on a great river. Looks like we got one heck of a run coming up the Columbia. To my knowledge we've never had a run this strong in July. Many of these steelhead will end up in front of camp. Mark's Calendar
Steelhead graph for The Dalles Dam through 07/19/08

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