Musings on damsel patterns

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Roper, Jun 7, 2004.

  1. Roper

    Roper Idiot Savant

    I started tying for the damsel swap but I seem to be bogged down. I'm looking for a realistic pattern and most seem suggestive at best, far from real size and shape of the naturals. Most patterns seem short and stout, whereas the real thing is somewhat long and tapered. I liken it to a carrot with big eyes.
    So here's the question, how important is it to get realistic with a pattern? Or is the ballpark close enough? I even tied a few on swimming hooks and they look funny to say the least. Having seen real nymphs wriggle around, I thought it would work well. Let's just say I'm not convinced.
    Oh wise and wonderful members, shed your light on poor old Roper that he may find peace in tying damsels for the swap...


    Life goes on, enjoy it...
  2. soreshoulder

    soreshoulder New Member

    my patterns are very far from realistic but seem to mimic movement and slender form. i prefer the idea or essence of the bug over a picture perfect copy that doesnt have the "buggy" traits. have fun and happy tying.
  3. IveofIone

    IveofIone Active Member

    Roper, A good damsel pattern is as hard to find as an honest politician so I know what you are talking about. As you could probably guess I am tying Six Packs for the swap. Those receiving them will probably think they look very un-damsel like, have almost no hackle to speak of as I strip off half of the hackle before winding it on and that the heads are too big and overwrapped as if tied by a raw beginner. And the tail is sparse and the body too slender. I plead guilty to all of the above but have never found a more effective tie although-like you-I have probably tried every pattern I could find for the past 15 years. So I joined the swap to see what magic other people are using. Fish seem to take them season long so having some go-to patterns is really essential.
    Saturday morning on Fly Tying- The Anglers Art I saw Leroy Hyatt tie a bead body damsel that he claims fishes very well. I tied up a half dozen or so just in case. The guys in BC claim that a Georgi's Damsel is the hot ticket. I tied up a handful of them and tried them out to no avail. Must be a Kamloops thing. Some guys I talked to on Ell Lake a while back said that just a wisp of marabou tied on as a tail on a size 12 hook and then palmered forward was all they ever used. Many of the large bulky patterns I have seen used incorporating deer hair and the like resemble a damsel not at all but must get taken because they are in the neighborhood and the fish are shopping. As far as mono eyes are concerned I never use them but just wrap more thread at the head than normal, I think the fish are looking for a sillouette in the water rather than inspecting each nymph and counting eyeballs. But I like the eyes on flies anyway as they seem cool and display a little more effort on the tiers part.
    I hope you find some peace before June 30 and come up with a killer pattern. But if not just remember that if whatever any of us ties turns out to be useless crap the other 11 members will just toss it aside and go with what looks good to them. Hell, I can be peaceful with that! Happy Hackling, Ive
  4. Brad Niemeyer

    Brad Niemeyer Old School Member


    I just tied up a few damsels that satisfy my "design eye". A nice balance between realism and impressionism.

    3x long hook
    bead chain eyes
    slender body
    raffine wincase
    chickabou tail
    soft hacle legs
    holo sparkle dubbing
    Small vinyl rib

    I'l try to get a pic posted for reference


  5. Tim Cottage

    Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

    Shoot, I think you are aready there but here are a few more of the same genre.
    In order they are:

    A.K's Damsel
    Andy Burk's Damsel
    Henk Verhaar's Damsel.
  6. Roper

    Roper Idiot Savant

    Interesting, A.K.'s is the opposite of mine, point up. I hadn't thought of tying like that...Hmmm.
    Looks like all I'm missing is some legs...on the fly of course!

    Ive, honest politicians? Now there's an oxymoron!


    Life goes on, enjoy it...
  7. fishinmusician

    fishinmusician New Member

    I think the presentation is usually more important for damsels than the pattern. Impressionistic works well for me, but neutral boyancy is important too so you can just get the slow wiggle without your bug sinking since damsels seem to head straight for shore. Lafontaine has a neat pattern that is dubbed fur over packing foam and my friend Larry tied one that is just olive deer body hair on a 9672 hook with a bit of a tiny spun head and maybe some legs. I've had good luck with these simple patterns or even trimed down careys or six packs.
  8. Tim Cottage

    Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

    >Interesting, A.K.'s is the opposite of mine, point up.
    >I hadn't thought of tying like that...Hmmm.

    That's why A.K. gets the big bucks.

  9. Tightline

    Tightline Brian Perry

    If it will make you feel better, why don't you send me a half dozen of those. Thats is a mighty fine looking fly in its own right... I'll let you know how it does.

  10. Hey Roper that's my exact fly on a different hook.

    My favorite damsel fly pattern.

    My favorite color is dark olive with red eyes.
  11. Philster

    Philster Active Member

    >I even tied a few on swimming hooks and they
    >look funny to say the least.

    Some things that look great in the fly box corkscrew through the water. Size and retrieve are probably all that really matters. Color is good too. 3/4 inch sparse marabou tail, olive seal substitute dub body that isnt' too fat, 6 winds of "lead" at the head. No eyes needed. Heck sub chenille for the dubbed body and you'll do fine.
  12. pcknshvl

    pcknshvl Member

    There was a recent article on, with yet more patterns. The author's favorite one seems the simplest tie, too.

    I've had OK luck with the Kaufmann tie.


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