Hovering Damselfly: designed to look like a damselfly flying just above the water surface

troutracker

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An attractor pattern based on the common-blue damselfly and designed to suspend itself just above the water surface like seen in a hovering common-blue damselfly -- instead of floating in the film, like a spent fly design, as many dry-fly damselfly patterns are designed to do. The fly details blurred by being suspended above the water surface, along with the long-thin bright blue body, give the impression of a hovering damselfly that triggers a strong-bite response from fish. The fore and aft dry-fly style is designed to be a high-riding pattern that can float a beaded nymph on a dropper. The pattern is effective fished as a dry fly on moving and still waters as well as fished wet with a slow retrieve like a wooly bugger. Catskill style design is designed to be fished on a single fly rig with long light tippets.

Link to tying video on Youtube.com:

Recipe
Hook: Regular length dry fly hook, around size 8
Thread: Ultra 140 denier in Peacock Blue
Body: 1.5mm to 2 mm thick foam in Damsel Blue color cut into 2 mm wide strips
Palmered Hackle: Extra-long dry-fly quality genetic saddle patch in grizzly color select feather to be about 1.5 to 2 times the hook gap width.
Variants: Tied both in a fore and aft dry-fly style and a Catskill dry-fly style
Common Color variants: most have a dark bands spaced across the abdomen and vary from medium-brown to reddish brown to red, black, ginger and yellow olive.




Tying and Fishing Notes

1. The palmered grizzly hackle keeps the fly suspended above the water surface and is designed to suggest the blur of transparent wings of a hovering damsel fly. The spiral of palmered grizzly hackle laid down on the blue foam body suggests the dark and light banding of the natural’s extended body. The palmered variant is designed to be more buoyant that the Catskill style so it can support a dropper fly tied on the hook bend.

2. The palmered hackle when treated with floatant and combined in this design with the foam body, makes this a high-floating bright-blue attractor pattern that is capable of supporting a beaded nymph dropper, preferably tied in at the hook bend, as part of a dry-dropper two-fly rig.

3. Also effective is a variant tied with the foam secured with thread just behind the hook eye along with several turns of grizzly hackle also just behind the hook eye in the Catskill dry-fly style and the free floating foam body extending out from there. Optional: add a few thin bands of color spaced at 3mm interval along the extended portion of the foam strip using a brown or black sharpie marker.

4. A high-riding pattern designed to float beaded nymph droppers. Effective fished as a dry fly on moving and still waters as well as fished wet with a slow retrieve like a wooly bugger

4. Using 2-3mm cylinders of sky blue or electric blue closed cell foam is also an option for this fly but are more costly.

5. The palmered feather cushioned from the fish bite by the foam body seems to be more durable and less prone to breakage than expected.

6. Long-reach whip finish tool makes it easier to tie a whip finish at the hook bend.




hovering damselfly side by side jpeg.jpg
 

silver creek

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The blue damsel pattern that I use is Gary Borger's Blue Damsel. Tying Instructions below:


The pattern below uses foam while Gary's uses blue poly dubbing. Gary's version with the dubbing can also be fished as a drowned damsel because it will sink.



The way to make the pattern "hover" is the Blow line

"Blow line fishing" is a technique described by both Gary LaFontaine and Gary Borger.

Gary Borger wrote about it in his book, Presentation pg 286. In Gary Borger's technique you use untwisted polypropylene yarn that is flatten and ironed to straighten the fibers. Then you form a "kite" out of it by whipping finishing a loop into it and attaching it to the end of your fly line and then attaching 2 feet of 2x or 3x mono to the "kite". The heavy tippet material is to prevent break offs. The strikes are vicious.

When there is enough wind blowing from offshore, you raise your fly rod and the use the wind to make the fly hover and dap the water surface just like a hovering damsel fly.

You can read Gary LaFontaine's article below:

http://www.flyanglersonline.com/features/lakes/part81.php

I wrote about my approach to damsels on this post.

http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/f...325683-favorite-damsel-body-2.html#post574806
 

flav

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I'm hitting a lake this weekend that my buddy fished last week and said had thousands of damsels darting about inches above the surface. The trout were jumping for them all day, but he had nothing to imitate them. I might have to tie up a couple different variations just in case they're still around. Personally I'm hoping the wind blows and the callibaetis hatch or ants are on the water, but I'll do the damsel thing if I have to.
Thanks for the post, It's given me something to think about besides wondering how smoky it's going to be.
 

troutracker

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Reply to Silver Creek’s comment above on my Hovering Damselfly pattern. First of all, I usually do not fish the hovering damselfly on a dapping/blow-line rig like Silver Creek advocates. While those techniques are fun and effective, I like to fish the hovering damselfly as a dry fly by casting it to a likely looking spot near aquatic vegetation and let it set for a while, then twitch, skate or recast nearby as the situation dictates. Take a look at this Youtube video of hovering dragon flies, a closely related species, to see that naturals tend to hover over a limited vertical space near the water surface (youtu.be/sjY0iNbbiEw). To me, naturals typically do not kite around like an artificial fly would when fished on on a blow-line. That said, in my experience, the kiting action of the blow-line method works well but that it is not the situation that the hovering damselfly is designed to address. Because of the way the naturals act, I designed the hovering damselfly pattern such that it would be fished suspended on hackles, “hovering” if you will, just above the water surface.

The usefulness of the hovering damselfly is that, when conditions warrant it, you can just tie it into your mounted leader system, add floatant, and fish it just like you would a dry fly-- without what to me is the hassle of switching to a blow-line system while on the water. Also, the hovering damselfly can fished in this way without the wind that is needed to activate the blow-line method.

Dapping/blow-line techniques came over to the USA from Europe where it has been in wide use for many decades, perhaps centuries. There are USA-based articles that predate the Borger or LaFontaine articles on blow-line techniques that Silver Creek cites— while at the same time not mentioning the long European history of its use. I refer the interested reader to the discussion of dapping and blow-line techniques in Robert H. Boyle's 2007 Book on Dapping (published by Stackpole Books) where he discusses the centuries long history of the methods in detail as well as its rise in popularity within the USA a few decades ago.

The other thread in Silver Creek’s discussion is how some folks prefer realistic-looking, imitative flies while others like the other end of the spectrum-- impressionistic flies. My cheap thrill in fly tying comes from catching trout with minimalist designs that have been reduced to as few details as possible and still produce an effective fly. The hovering damselfly is an impressionistic design, towards one of the endpoints of that style in being a schematic fly, that endeavors to present to the fish the illusion of the long-thin bright blue-line of a damselfly body hovering just above the water surface-- to me, this is the dominant visual clue that a damsel fly is present.

Further, I feel the palmered or Catskill hackle design element is necessary because it supports the body of the fly above the film, so that projected image of the fly is somewhat diffused through the moving liquid lens-like action of the air-water interface, such that the fish cannot not get a clear view of the hackle but does see the blurred image of long-thin bright-blue line representing the natural damselfly’s body. The hovering damselfly pattern does not require the kiting action of the blow-line technique to accomplish this presentation.

I fish the hovering damsel as a dry fly in a way that proves to be suggestive enough of a hovering damselfly adult to trigger a strike from trout. That works for me. Whether my choice is the optimal way to fish a damselfly pattern over blow line methods is not the point-- its just how I typically deploy the fly. After all, in my mind, the allure of fly fishing is that it allows us to do whatever we see as fun within the bounds of responsible behavior.
 

troutracker

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I have fished the fly over the past four years or so on ponds, lakes, streams and rivers in Colorado and Montana. Clearly, the best time to use it is when blue damselflies are present --sort of a belated match the hatch as damselflies are relatively long-lived. The hovering damselfly has proven to be an effective searching pattern especially later in the summer as hatches in general start to fade but fish are still actively feeding. On rivers, I find the fly works when the fish have moved up into the shallow riffles and runs--even when I do not see damselflies in the area. On stillwater, I cast it to where I have seen fish feeding and to likely looking patches of water -- often near aquatic plant clumps at the edge. . After casting, I let the fly sit still for a while and then may twitch it or skate it back towards me a bit. I may then recast nearby to emulate a darting damselfly. On flowing water, I dead drift it, sometimes with a dropper beaded nymph attached to the hook bend. I also tie a sparsely hackled version that I fish underwater with a slow intermittent retrieve like a bugger style fly that it resembles. All of these methods have produced trout for me.
 
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