DAMSELFLY NYMPHS

The following is reprinted from Philip Rowley,s website: Fly Craft Angling with his permission.

Survey any fly fisher and ask them what insect comes to mind fishing lakes. Their answer would probably be damsels. Indeed damsels are easily recognizable, occurring in staggering numbers through out many lakes in British Columbia especially those of interior plateau. Trout prowl the stillwater jungle picking off large numbers of this year round food source. Favoring long stemmed vegetation damsel lay in ambush waiting for their food to pass by. The undersides of leafy vegetation such as Potamogeton are preferred hideouts. Sporting variegated color schemes damsels are tough to spot. In the clear marl lakes the nymphs are a pale watery green, a finicky color to duplicate. In the algae or tannin stained waters traditional olive to olive brown nymphs predominate. Use skinny spartan patterns, damsel nymphs are sleek, fierce predators consuming large quantities of chironomid larvae, mayfly nymphs and scuds. Under ideal conditions mature damsel fly nymphs reach sizes close to 1 and inches.

During the late spring damsels migrate en masse towards the nearest landfall, boat or float tube to emerge. Rather than utilizing safety the weeds damsels expose themselves by swimming just subsurface. Trout ravage these emerging hordes with bold, aggressive surface strikes.

During this emergence it is often critical to nestle amongst the shoreline vegetation in order to retrieve the fly in the direction as the naturals are travelling. Horizontal presentation is another key component. Floating or intermediate fly lines are the tools of choice as it is important to keep the fly in the top band of the water column. Waddling less than a foot beneath the surface the nymphs tire quickly. A slow handtwist retrieve coupled with frequent pauses is often all it takes. If trout seem fickle try a slow strip retrieve while jiggling the rod tip seductively to add attractive movement. Under ideal conditions trout follow the nymphs tight to shore making for exhilarating strikes, lost flies and broken leaders as the panicking trout runs in and around the tulles or other shoreline obstacles. But the most difficult aspect regarding successful damsel fishing is duplicating their sinusoidal side to side swimming motion. Patterns utilizing rabbit fur, marabou or aftershaft feathers are a must. Knotted onto the leader using a Duncan loop these patterns wiggle and shimmy with a natural animation trout find hard to resist.

Don't think that damsel activity focuses upon their emergence. Immature damsels are available year round in numerous quantities they are a regular sight laboring from one hiding spot to the next. Foraging during the fall trout stuff themselves with the immature members of next years hatch. At this time of the year simple, tiny size 10 or smaller damsel patterns work wonders.