Fly of the Month
We will call it “Fly of the Month”, even though it may sound like a contest, it is not. Unless you count yourself a winner for the knowledge you will gain! You might even catch yourself a “trophy” fish, with a pattern, technique, or some other bit of wisdom gained from others and then implement into your tying.
(Order: Odonata; Suborder: Zygoptera)
Habitat of Nymph: Ponds, marshes, and slow moving streams.
Habitat of Adult: Fast flying insect.
So we will begin this series with the “Damselfly”, the damselfly is a part of fish diet throughout the U.S. and in every continent with the exception of Antarctica. It is a food source through its entire life cycle, from nymph to adult, found in still and flowing waters.
The Lifecycle of the Damselfly
Some observations about their life cycle (Newman);
•Immediately after mating, the female will crawl down the vegetation, and 'into' the water to lay her eggs on the submerged portion of the vegetation. Once the eggs are laid she will crawl back up the vegetation and repeat the process. *an adult version of the damselfly submerged would be a good option to mimic this*
•When the eggs hatch they do not go through the larva and pupa transformations. The newly hatched damsel is just a smaller version of the later immature stages. Thus they are simply called 'nymphs' until they actually hatch into adults. *the damselfly nymph in various sizes*
•The nymph will proceed through 10 to 12 "instars" or molts before becoming fully developed and ready to emerge as an adult. With each molt the nymph becomes somewhat darker in color. Finally the nymph will swim towards the shore and crawl up the shoreline vegetation. *the damselfly nymph in various sizes and colors*
•Meanwhile the nymph of the next generation will migrate to the deeper water in the fall. It will hibernate over winter and return to the shallow water the following spring to begin the process anew. *the damselfly nymph in various sizes and colors, fished deeper in the fall*
•Hatches and migrations mostly occur during mid-day. *my kind of fishing*
Their appearance/color can vary especially in adults from, blue, green, red, and even a brown. Nymph can vary from brown to a yellow-green. *ty them all!*
Here are some photos for the various stages in the life cycle. *Notice the gills on the end of the tail, they really look like feathers.*
The damselfly nymph gets up to about 25 mm long (one inch) when ready to hatch into an adult. Other sources have them growing as big as 40mm (1.6 inches) not including the gills. Younger generations will also be in any lake and these will vary in size depending on the age.
When getting ready to hatch, the damselfly nymph is usually darker in color than the younger versions. It is often a dirty olive green to a brown color. Smaller nymphs of earlier generations are normally much lighter in color and vary around tones of water green to yellow-green and occasionally even a bright blue-green. Locally the adult male is usually a bright blue while the female is more of a slate color. (Newman)
The nymph is usually stationary clinging to bottom vegetation and debris. When it does move, it crawls or swims much like a fish by sweeping the tail back and forth. Progress is not very fast and sometimes the damselfly nymph will stop and remain motionless in the water or on the bottom for a period of time. (Newman)
Damselfly nymphs are hatched in shallow water and tend to stay in the shallows among weed beds where food is plentiful. They may be found in running water but seem to prefer the marshes, ponds and lakes. They usually stay in shallow clean water but may be found to depths of 35 feet. (Newman)
Damselflies have a spring and fall migration linked with hibernation. The damsels come out of hibernation and migrate to the shallows for feeding, as the water temperatures rise in spring. In the fall as the water cools, the process is reversed. The timing of these migrations varies with water temperature, elevation, and location.
The adult damselfly can also be fished with success in either a floating or sub-surface.
So what was the point in all this, as a beginning fly fisher and tyer, I have not purchased a book, seen a fly pattern, or a tie-along that actually made reference to the intended food source, with a picture in which it is meant to mimic, or it’s lifecycle discussed; only by name is it ever mentioned and that is usually in the name of the pattern (of course I have not seen them all and never will). I understand some tied flies do not mimic a food source but are merely attractors, so it would stand to reason those would not include such information.
I thought it would be educational (if you will allow me to use such harsh words) to choose a fly/insect/food source each month to have a look at it and see how others mimic it through tying and fishing techniques.
It is also for those, including myself, who want to tie but have a hard time choosing a fly, that part is done and you’re welcome!
There are plenty of patterns for damselfly nymphs and adults on the World Wide Web, I challenge you to seek one out to tie this month or come up with your very own! Then post it in this thread, it’s all about fun, building your materials inventory, getting you out of your normal ties, and ultimately getting to know your fellow fly fishermen and tyers.
The damselfly nymph and adult fly pattern and its variations have caught many species of fish, warm and cold, trout to carp.
If you like you could include some basic information with your pattern:
Where you fish it:
What species you catch:
What times of year:
How do you fish it:
Then of course you can always share the materials list you used, it’s up to you.
I hope you have enjoyed the read,
Ron Newman - British Columbia Travel Information. BC Adventure Network
The Lifecycle of the Damselfly https://www.youtube.com/