Damselfly nymphs are superb fly patterns for trout fishing all year round, making them an important pattern for every fishing enthusiast to have to hand. They work well in rivers, lakes, streams, and creeks and can be fished high or low in the water column.
Curious to discover more about the pattern? Read on to find out everything about damselflies, from how to make them, to the best tips for fishing with a damselfly nymph!
What Is a Damselfly Nymph
The pattern is a versatile guide fly that performs well in all sorts of water conditions. Damselfly nymphs are ideal for both warm water and cold water systems and are found in large numbers in lakes, rivers, streams, and reservoirs all over the country.
The damselfly nymph is especially productive during the summer when they are a primary source of food for trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and panfish. Damselfly nymphs can also be used successfully all year round for fishing for bluegill, trout, largemouth bass, hickory shad, and more. See also our post on What Do Trout Eat here.
The fly pattern imitates the aquatic insect of the same name. Damselfly nymphs are small, thin, dull insects which tend to live in underwater vegetation. They often have a very similar coloring to the plants they live in, so damselfly coloring varies greatly from location to location.
Damselfly nymphs are fragile swimmers who cannot move quickly in the water, making them easy prey for any nearby predatory fish. That’s why this works so well – if you can imitate the damselfly nymph’s behavior, you’ll be sure to catch lots of fish.
Damselflies also spend up to 5 years underwater in their nymph stage before emerging and becoming adult damselflies. It’s in the nymph stage that the fish can catch the damselflies most readily, making them a reliable source of food. This is good news for you, as it means that the fish will definitely go for your damselfly nymph pattern.
Here’s the lowdown on what you need to do the pattern:
- Hook: Wet fly hook in size 10-12
- Thread: Olive
- Tail: Olive marabou
- Rib: Gold wire (fine)
- Body: Marabou – Olive
- Thorax: Fur – Olive
- Thorax Cover: Wide pearl tinsel
- Hackle: Olive partridge hackle
- Eyes: Small glass beads
How To Tie A Damselfly Nymph
So you want to have a go at tying your own damselfly nymphs? The best way to get started is to invest in a fly tying kit which should have all the tools and materials you’ll need for fly tying. You’ll find loads of fly tying tutorials and videos online which will guide you step by step through a particular pattern.
Here’s a great video on tying the damselfly nymphs. With clear visuals and simple, straightforward instructions, watch it through a couple of times, and you’ll be ready to give it a try yourself! You can use one of our fly tying kits we recommend here.
Basic Instructions For Tying the Damselfly Nymph
Start by attaching your thread just behind the eye, wrapping it around the loose end to secure, and snip it off. Wrap the thread along the hook shank until you are almost level with the barb.
Select some olive maribou and attach it at the bend of your hook. Continue to wrap your thread forward over the maribou ends to secure them down.
Start wrapping some fine gold wire around the middle of the hook shank. Next, add a few more olive marabou fibers above the tail and strap carefully in place. You’ll want to take these fibers and wind them around the shank to create your nymph’s body. Make sure to secure this again with your thread and then you can snip back any waste ends.
Now is the time to wind that gold wire around the body in smooth, even turns until it reaches the thread. Again, secure with the thread and then you can twist the wire until it snaps loose.
You need to add the thorax cover next. Take some pearl tinsel and strap on with your thread.
Use some olive marabou as dubbing to create the thorax of your nymph. Wind it around your thread and then wrap it around near the eye of the hook to make the thorax. Then, add a dyed olive hackle, attach to the hook just in front of the thorax, and trim to your desired look.
The final step is to pull the pearl tinsel over the thorax and secure with your thread, snipping off the ends.
You’re all done – you’ve tied your first damselfly nymph. Now you just need to get out on the water and go fishing with it!
How To Fish the Damselfly Nymph
Damselfly nymphs are formidable flies to use at any time of year, but you’ll have the best results using these flies from early to mid-summer. In May, June, July, and August, damselfly nymphs are a significant part of the trout’s diet, so you’ll be guaranteed success if you fish with a damselfly pattern at this time of year.
The best way to use the damselfly nymph is with a slow retrieve, interrupted by long pauses. We recommend using a slow sinking line or a floating line to fish your damselfly nymph pattern.
The key is knowing how the damselfly nymphs behave in the water. For most of their lives, they live deep down and hide away amongst vegetation. If you prefer fishing at the bottom of the water column, you can trail your fly through areas with dense vegetation to see if any fish are lurking around on the lookout.
Another effective way to use your damselfly nymphs is by imitating how they rise up through the water. When these aquatic insects are ready to mature and become adult damselflies, they swim up to about 3 feet below the water surface and then travel horizontally until they reach some underwater vegetation such as bull rushes.
You can replicate this behavior by casting out to spots near the riverbank with plenty of weed beds and aquatic plants, allowing your fly to sink about a meter deep, and then start a slow retrieve. Try to break the movement up with pauses every 2 – 3 feet, as damselfly nymphs need to rest every so often when they swim.
Be confident and experiment with different retrieves to see what the trout respond to best in your specific location. I’ve found that some techniques are deadly in one area and will snag you an impressive catch, yet don’t work so well elsewhere.
The Wrap Up
So there you have our complete guide to the damselfly nymph. An essential fly for any fly angler, make sure you stock up on these before any summer fishing trips. You’ll be amazed by how many trout, among other species, you’ll catch with your damselflies.
Give this article a share on Facebook or Twitter if you found it helpful! Feel free to get in touch with any comments, questions, or suggestions for future articles you’d like to see. Want to discover more about different fly patterns? Don’t miss the other fly pattern reviews in this series!