Saturday, July 4, 2009

Damselflies: Where the action is

I was worried about the damselfly hatch this year. Usually, it's going gangbusters about when I finish teaching my summer classes in early June. But cold, wet weather this spring retarded the start of the hatch, and it's only been the last two weeks that I've been seeing adult damsels and their nymphs.

Over this Fourth of July weekend, the hatch, which more accurately should be called a crawl-out, was going strong around Laramie. I caught the biggest Bear River cutthroat of the year yesterday on a beadhead damselfly nymph in a small lake.

The reason I like the damsel crawl-out is that you get to fish relatively large flies (I usually tie them on size 10 nymph hooks), and the trout just slam them. There isn't much subtlety in their takes - it's like throwing buggers for browns in the fall. Hammer time.

As a bonus, damsel nymphs are easy and quick to tie. Basically, I wrap marabou around a hook, and it works.

When the water is clear, as it was at the lake I fished yesterday, you need to go light on the tippet. I used a 4X. So breakoffs are fairly common with the slashing strikes that damsels elicit.

A trick with fishing damsel nymphs is to find the retrieve that the fish are looking for - generally, slower, 6-inch strips work best for me. But there are times when a quicker strip or even dead drifting a damsel nymph under an indicator work better. You have to experiment to find out.

But once you do, hold on tight. You're in for some action.