Dragonfly and Damselfly Fun
by John Evans
(San Antonio, TX)
Simple Blue Damselfly
Readers of this blog may recall that I wrote an article some months back about tying a simple blue damselfly. I was motivated to try this pattern after seeing how often fish smacked adult damsel and dragonflies on the water during spring and summer. Texas has about 70 species of damselflies and nearly 160 species of dragonflies, so it just makes sense that they comprise a significant portion of a fish’s diet.
I had to work to come up with a version I could tie, however. I possess only rudimentary fly tying skills, and most of the adult patterns I found were too complicated for old fumble-fingers here. Anyway, I was eventually able to adapt some tricks and techniques that I found on-line, which enabled me to tie an adult damsel/dragonfly that might pass inspection. But, it was winter . . . Not the right time to try this warm-weather pattern!
Spring has now sprung in Central Texas, so I headed out to a local creek that’s covered with vegetation and dragonflies to see if my new pattern worked.
What a wonderful morning! There’s something special about seeing even a small fish smack a dry fly, and I was able to land several dozen in just a couple of hours. I used the Suntech Keiryu Special 27, which is the forerunner to the Traveler 27 that is such a marvelous pole for tight quarters. It turned out to be the right choice.
Can there be many things that are more fun than using a fine Japanese tenkara rod, with a dry fly you’ve tied yourself, when the fish are cooperating?
I did learn a couple of interesting things. First, I figured that an adult damselfly/dragonfly imitation would be a dry fly pattern only, and that as soon as it became waterlogged, you needed to treat it with floatant and start over. That turned out not to be the case. Just as I’ve discovered with the venerable Elk Hair Caddis, sometimes the pattern works just fine when it gets waterlogged and sinks. In fact, I’d say that nearly half of the fish I caught struck after I jerked the fly underwater. Interesting, huh?
Also, I learned that the fish varied widely in how they approached the fly. Sometimes, I fished a dead drift, and it was 20 or more seconds before the fish struck. Any extra movement of the fly turned off these fish. At other times, as mentioned above, a quick jerk underwater triggered a strike. Occasionally, a gentle twitch was all that was needed. And, a few times, a wildly-erratic jiggle on the surface did the trick. Fish are not that predictable.
If you’ve never tried an adult dragonfly or damselfly, give it a shot. You can google “Simple Blue Damselfly Tenkarabum” to find my earlier article and easy recipe. Happy fishing!
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin
"Study to be quiet." - Izaak Walton 1653
"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." Col. Robert Venables 1662
As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.
The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.
Beware of the Dogma