Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bright Eyed Damsel

Damselfly nymphs are one of the staples of the stillwater fish diet throughout the spring and summer. The Bright Eyed Damsel is a deceptively simple looking fly compared to how effective it is. This fly has accounted for everything from bluegills to trophy trout. Tie one on and see how you like it, or better yet how the fish like it!

The Bright Eyed Damsel is a resulting incarnation that came from my first outings with the Non Specific and later the Twisted Damsel. On bright, sunny midday outings I found the need to go deep even when the damselfly nymphs could be seen high in the water column. As with the Twisted Damsel I experimented with the fly adding all sorts of appendages with a plethora of materials trying to devise a perfect deep water damsel pattern to be fished on a floating line. All the experimentation kept bringing me back to this point. A simple, no frills fly that catches fish very consistently and has repeatedly out fished more elaborate deep damsel nymph patterns.
Olive Brown

During the spring and early summer damselfly nymphs migrate from deep to shallow water. Once in the shallows they seek out vegetation, rocks or anything else that protrudes above the water’s surface. Cattails, lily pads, bank willows and a multitude of others are perfect locations for them to exit the water, climb aboard and emerge into adults. Once out of the water the damselfly nymph sheds its outer husk and transforms into an adult. The final stage of transformation is of little interest to feeding fish however the migration stage is of great interest.
Light Olive

Damselfly nymphs live for up to two years in lakes and some very slow-flowing streams as aquatic carnivores. They go virtually unnoticed by fish throughout this stage of their lives. They stay within the aquatic vegetation feeding on other insect larvae and nymphs. Their natural camouflage is to take on a shade of olive, green, yellow, brown or tan that helps them to blend completely with the vegetation. It’s not until nature urges them to transform into adults that they become vulnerable to feeding fish.
Dark Olive

Damselfly nymphs are slow swimmers making them easy pickings for feeding fish as they swim in open water. The fish will pick them off at any stage in their migration. Leaving deep water they make their way toward the water’s surface. Once they near the surface they are big, tasty, slow swimming morsels silhouetted against the sky. This makes them easy to see and easy to consume.

The Bright Eyed Damsel is a simple fly to fish. On bright sunny days in extremely clear water the damsel nymphs may be migrating but the fish can be reluctant to make the move close to the surface in water of 6 feet or more in depth. When this is the case use a Bright Eyed Damsel. Use a long leader of approximately one and one half times the depth you are trying to reach. Allow the fly to sink using the countdown method.
Yellow Olive

Once the fly has reached depth use a retrieve that consists of long, extremely slow pulls. Slow cannot be overemphasized! Because of the weight of the fly long pauses can be troublesome, especially over vegetation, so keep the fly moving but ever so slowly.

As for color selection I've found that a counter intuitive approach works far more often than not. If the vegetation and subsequently damselfly nymphs are dark colored use a light colored fly. If the vegetation is a lighter shade use a very dark fly. I am not sure if the color contrast makes the fly easier to see or the unusual color triggers the take because the fly stands out among the naturals. Either way it works! Because this is not always the case I will often start with a Dancing Damsel as a “dropper” in a color that more closely matches the naturals.
Pale Olive

Available in - Dark Olive, Light Olive, Yellow Olive, Olive Brown, Pale Olive, Ginger, Tan

Size 10, 14


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