This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is the Braided Butt Damsel.
I first found this fly in Randall Kaufmann’s book Tying Dry Flies (1991) in the early 1990s. I tied the fly using the instructions from the book and took it to Antone Ranch in Eastern Oregon when it was a pay-to-play lake. I can still remember the toilet-bowl takes from the huge trout in some of their lakes. The trout were cruising along the shallow reeds and our trip had timed the damselfly hatch just perfectly.
Trout LOVE adult damsels. You can watch them swimming in the shallow water picking off the adults from the lower portion of the reeds. Their heads come out of the water and slurp down these damsels. In fact, I’ve seen fish jump out of the water and catch them while they’re flying just over the water.
We cast the fly close to the reeds, let it sit and wait for the cruisers to swim by. They would rise to the fly and immediately use their tail to switch directions. The result was a hook-up, a big divot of water, and one very upset rainbow!
I still recall one rainbow I hooked, played, and landed. I played the fish from my Outcast Fat Cat. It towed me around the small lake and made some spectacular jumps. From where my wife was floating, she saw the fish jump on the other side of my boat with the effect of jumping over me. She said “I don’t want one that big!”
This picture is from 2003, before we had large enough lake nets to land these big fish. The only way to get the fly out was to drag the fish up my legs! The next year we returned with bigger nets.
The Braided Butt Damsel has been effective in all the Central Oregon lakes I fish. I still recall casting these flies in front of cruising Brown trout at East Lake and trying to wait for them to eat the fly. It’s easy to pull it out of their mouth before it closes.
Kaufmann stated the fly was developed by Gary Borger and Bob Pelzl. They had developed it in the mid-1980s, inspired by a fly they found while fishing in New Zealand.
I still use the Braided Butt Damsel fly today. I tie it with the monofilament body and a variant using foam. Both are effective.
Check your local fly shop for this fly. They may just have a bin full of them.