Damsels in Distress


Sculpin Enterprises
No, I have the secret: helium-filled flies that lift a few inches off the surface with the tippet of your leader in the surface film.

At manzanita lake in lassen volcanic national park I saw a brown hunting adult damsels. It would launch out of the water and fling itself into the reeds. It was an incredible sight to see

Jim Ficklin

Genuine Montana Fossil
Great video; thanks for sharing! C'mon July! It'll be Montana on my fav Damsel waters & 'Bows instead of Browns, but heaven nonetheless. Man did that spike my adrenalin levels . . .

Damselfly quad-rotor micro-drones...that's the ticket!
Wonder if there's a grant for this?

Jeremy Floyd

fly fishing my way through life
The breach at 1:38 reminded me of a steelhead on the Ronde that took the skated fly vertically and came 2/3 of the way out of the water.. Thanks for posting this, and thanks for the trip down memory lane.


Active Member
A few years back I watched a big brown at Dry Falls launch himself into the air repeatedly after a red dragonfly flying about a foot off the surface. Lacking a dragonfly imitation I tied on a damsel which he took at the very instant it touched the water. It was a very large brown (I estimated well over twenty inches) and after he towed my float tube around for a while, the leader parted. The damsel imitation proved to be the ticket that day and a few rainbows found it to their liking.

On several occasions (notably at Chopaka last year around mid-June) I've seen thousands of adult damsels hovering a short distance above the surface while trout tried to snatch them from the air while totally ignoring any adult patterns presented on the surface. My most successful solution has been to tie on an imitation of the teneral (the teneral is the early adult stage, lacking the intense coloring of the fully-developed adult. They are poor fliers, usually clinging to reeds or other foliage hanging above the water after having emerged from their nymphal shucks while they slowly mature to the fully adult form.

It wasn't a fish-a-cast proposition but but the fish were far more enthusiastic about taking them floating on the surface than fully-adult imitations.

Rob Ast

Active Member
Preston, impressive story. Exactly how big was yor fly box that you had not only emergers and adults, but also the in-between stage?
I've seen trout take hovering damsels on Hebgen Lake just like in the video. You can take them using floss blow line fishing. The wind usually begins at about 10 AM. You need a float tube or boat to be in the right position but when the wind is in out to the lake, you can get the fly to the fish from shore.

"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 off shore, 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.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=floss blow line fly fishing&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

I use a pattern that will sink. Damsel crawl under water to lay their eggs and they drown. Drowned damsels are rarely fished and the trout are not shy about taking them.

Here's what Jason Borger has to say about damsel patterns:

"One question that I/we often get about this fly (inspired by a pattern that my father saw in New Zealand back in the 1980s) is, “Why don’t you use foam for the post, it floats better?” The answer is based on years of observing damselfly hatches and is fairly simple: because sometimes we want the fly to sink. If that sounds odd, keep in mind that “dry flies” (or perhaps more accurately “dry insects”) sometimes aren’t so dry…."

Borger Damsel

I wrote about my approach to damsels on this post.