A good damsel nymph pattern?

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Brion Salter, Jun 2, 2004.

  1. Brion Salter

    Brion Salter New Member

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    I am looking for a good damsel nymph pattern to tie for use on the Eastern Washington desert lakes. I want to fish this fly near the surface. I have tied and fished several patterns over the years, but have not yet fallen in love with any one pattern. Does anyone have a treasure that they would be willing to share?
     
  2. boxcar

    boxcar Scott Willison

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    I know how you feel. There are a lot of great patterns out there, but trout can get picky about their damsels: color, size, where they swim in the water column. I like Andy Burk's Damsel Nymph. It's got an ultra chenille extended body that wiggles nicely like a natural. I tend to weight mine and fish them just over the weeds. I did well last weekend in the Lenice chain with this unnamed pattern:

    Hook: TMR 200R #10-12
    Tail: Sparse olive marabou (about shank length)
    Body: Thinly dubbed olive rabbit
    Wingcase/legs: Short olive marabou (same color as tail)
    Eyes: Small melted mono or black nylon

    I fished this on a floating line casting to risers or cruisers with a varied, erratic strip. I actually could not get this fly to sink for the longest time because I had recently spilled floatant all over my hands. I stopped worrying about that so much after this "floating nymph" landed on the surface and a fast wake darted out from the tules to explode on this poor bug. Yum. I did get all fancy tying earlier in the week and experimented with a wiggly damsel nymph using olive midge tubing threaded with kevlar, krystal flash, and olive Z-lon. This concoction seemed to be a hit with the ever populating Lenice bluegill, but got the thumbs down from several trout.

    Scott
     
  3. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

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    I understand that the "Six Pack" fly does quite well on the dry side lakes. And no I don't know how to tie it. But a search on Google will produce a pattern.

    Jim
     
  4. Jerry Arlington

    Jerry Arlington Member

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    Bug eyed damsel.

    Small dry fly hook or curved nymph hook. 10-12 or 14.

    Attach two beads from craft store by inserting heavy leader material and burning one end.
    Slide the two beads on, cut then hold and burn the other end so there is just enough room to fit an eye on each side on hook. Wrap hook with thread then attach eyes with figure eight wraps until secure and straight.

    Attach marabou for tail, same length as hook. Tie in gold ribbing wire. Twist and wrap marabou to half way to eye. Reverse wrap ribbing. Tie in wing case material, finish wrapping thorax and ribbing to eyes. Tie off and trim. Bring wing case behind eyes wrap with thread, bring wing case material over and between eyes and wrap in front bring back over behind eyes and whip finish. Trim wing case material at angle. Dress with hard as nails or head cement on thread and a little on wing material. I used French straw Olive type material but could use pheasant tail or other feathers of right color. I tie in different colors of marabou and different colors of eyes, black, red (favorite), green and yellow.

    Bug eyed damsel.
     
  5. luv2fly2

    luv2fly2 Active Member

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    the damsel recipe of boxcars is a good one with the marabou being a dirty olive color.
    the recipe for the six pack is similar to a carey special. tail is optional but i use partridge or pheasant. body is peacock or pheasant tail. rib is optional, but i use fine wire reversed so the peacock lasts longer. hackle is yellow or olive pheasant rump. the hackle is sometimes hard to find. anyone coming to the dry side should have at least 6 sixpacks.
     
  6. Andy

    Andy Workin in a sweet mullet

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    I agree, the sixpack is a must have

    Thanks Ive for showing that one to me, its now a defintie go-to pattern for me.




    Andy
     
  7. Kalm

    Kalm Member

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    Don't over look chartreuse as a color. Some aquatic vege's are a lighter shade of green, and very bright in color (especially if the sun is out). I've had days where chartreuse out-produces olive.
     
  8. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    I've been fishing a simple marabou damsel the past couple years that recently produced several nice fish a couple weeks ago at Lone Lake.

    Using a size 12 1X or 2X long nymph hook, tie in some marabou fibersfor the tail and pinch 'em off short, about 1/4" to 3/8" long. Tie in more fibers by their tips and wind forward over a few wraps of lead and tie off. Overwrap with a copper or gold wire rib. Tie in mono eyes and a couple turns of partridge for legs before wrapping the eyes and head with more marabou and tying off.

    More important than the pattern though, there are a couple issues I think that are worth considering when fishing damsels.

    First, take the time to see what color the naturals are and then come as close as possible with the pattern materials. I've never seen a natural come in some of the brilliant olive or other hues of marabou that most shops sell. The real guys are usually duller, lighter or more tan. The latest batch I tied were a mix of pale light green and tan marabou fibers.

    Second, when the naturals are out in full force and wriggling about everywhere in the water, I've found that the fish could care less about my obviously bogus imitation. When they're not keying on naturals is when damsel patterns seem to work best for me. When they are, it's time to switch to something else.
     
  9. ray helaers

    ray helaers Active Member

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    When damsel nymphs swim, they wiggle like hell, but their forward progress is quite slow. This makes them attractive to trout, but hard to imitate. Effective flies need to have a lot of action at a very slow retrieve. Marabou tends to pulsate, rather than wiggle, at slow retrieves. Bunny fur works better.

    The naturals are very slender and leggy, with prominent eyes and very large heads relative to their bodies. You can buy ready-made eyes, but they are usually too big, and a waste of money. Perfect damsel nymph eyes are easy to make with 50-pound mono, a pair of hackle pliers, and a match.

    I agree with Fortuna about color; most damsel nymphs are light green or olive, but they can range from yellowish-tan to dark green. I always make sure I have at least a few damsel nymphs in tan or even straw-yellow (and somebody else is right about the chartreuse).

    I have also shared Fortuna's experience during the peak of emergence, when uncountable numbers of nymphs swim from the weed beds to near the surface, then toward shore. Lots of slashing rises and nymphs crawling up your neck are good indicators of a damsel hatch. But with so many naturals to choose from, the fish can turn fussy, and even the most effective damsel nymph imitations don't always overcome the challenge.

    If you can't resist, very slowly retrieve the fly toward shore, with lots of pauses, fishing a long leader on a floating or intermediate line. But like fortuna, I have had the best luck fishing damsel nymphs as searching patterns, during the period around emergence, but not during peak migrations, fished slowly on a sinking or intermediate line over weed tops, among reeds, or along the edges of weed beds.

    Anyway, this is my favorite nymph pattern, very realistic but with excellent action, even at slow retrieves. It works all the time, and I've never fished a fly that worked better during thick migrations, but I've also had extremely good and consistent luck with it fished deep over weed tops when the fishing is a little tough.

    HACKLE DAMSEL NYMPH
    MATERIALS
    Hook: TMC 2302 Size 14 OR 16
    Thread: 8/0 Unithread, tan or olive
    Eyes: 50-pound monofilament, burned
    Tail: Bunny fur, olive to tan
    Abdomen: Rabbit or muskrat dubbing, color to match tail
    Hackle: Hen cape, color to match
    Thorax: Same as abdomen
    Head: Same as abdomen

    TYING STEPS
    Step 1.
    Trim a ΒΌ inch length of 50-pound mono and grip it perpendicular in a pair of hackle pliers. Using a match, burn each end into a round ball, all the way to the pliers.

    Step 2.
    Well back from the hook eye, tie the mono eyes onto the top of the hook shank, using figure-eight wraps.

    Step 3.
    Trim a clump of bunny fur, one-and-a-half to two times the length of the hook shank, and tie in at the tail. Tie the butt ends down tight and slim, all the way up to the eyes, to keep a neat, trim underbody.

    Step 4.
    Dub a very slim abdomen, about half way to the eyes, then tie in a hen hackle by the tip, curved back.

    Step 5.
    Dub a thorax, only slightly thicker than the abdomen, up to the eyes, them palmer the hackle over the thorax.

    Step 6.
    Using figure-eight wraps, dub a large head around the eyes. The head should be at least twice as thick as the thorax. Whip finish, trim, and cement to complete the hackle damsel nymph.
     
  10. Brion Salter

    Brion Salter New Member

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    Thanks to all of you. I should stay pretty busy tying for the next couple of days. I plan on heading to the lake next week.

    Yes, I'll send a report.:thumb
     
  11. luv2fly2

    luv2fly2 Active Member

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    another good pattern is a wooley bugger in a size 12 or 14 or 16