Have you ever fished with adult damsel flies? Talk about exciting! These bugs are quick, so when a fish takes your fly, it’s more like a toilet bowl flushing…a big ring from the fish taking the fly with gusto!
At times, there can be massive hatches or swarms.
Here is a recent picture of a great swarm at Crane Prairie Reservoir…amazing! All the reeds we saw were COVERED with damsel flies. Looks like a damsel flag, doesn’t it?
At times, the fish can go CRAZY, feeding on the adult damsels with reckless abandon. I’ve seen Atlantic salmon at Hosmer Lake jumping out of the water catching damsels in mid-air! I found this video awhile ago about damsels. Check out this link to Damsels in Distress…
Unbelievable right. Have a big grin on your face from watching that? I did. How do you match that activity with a fly???
Damsel flies emerge from the nymphs who climb out of the water on objects like reeds (or pontoon boats!). Out pops the adult who lives between 3 and 9 weeks. So they have to eat to stay alive.
Why are damsel flies hovering over the water picking up insects? They eat ’em. Here is a damsel fly eating a Callibaetis it picked up off the surface and stopped by our boat for a little lunch.
And mating damsel flies. They find each other and fly around coupled up.
So how do you imitate damsel flies? Well, for dry flies, I use a Braided Butt Damsel Fly.
I’m finding it difficult to find the braided mono that I’ve purchased through the years, so have come up with a variant using a foam body. In addition, a tying friend was gracious enough to give me some over-sized Coq de Leon feathers.
Coq de Leon Feathers
I decided the sheen and barring would be a very close to the reel bug so I changed the pattern from grizzly hackle to the Coq de Leon feather. Here is the latest version:
I think I’ve mentioned collecting bugs and using bug vials to keep them. Fill ’em with Purell Hand Sanitizer and place the bugs inside. I bring them back to my tying bench and use my Verilux Natural Spectrum Desk Lamp which provides natural daylight for true colors.
Here’s what the damsels look like:
This vial includes the damsel nymph stage. Note the broken tail on the wing of the adult.
Well, that’s it. I hope you get to experience the joy fishing adult damsel flies.
I thought I’d end my blog with a nice fish my friend Max caught at Crane Prairie.
Amazing video! I have seen this a couple of times. Rather hard to match that situation ! You work on that pattern.
Great job presenting damsels. Thanks max