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Bill's Dangerous Damsel

Maybe because of the weather we’ve had this spring (who knows?) the damsel hatches have been sporadic and generally late. So, I thought it might be useful to present another alternative when tying damsel nymph imitations—one that I know catches fish. As I have mentioned many times in this column, simplicity is good—the simpler the pattern, the more likely it will be tied. This pattern is the ultimate in simplicity, requiring only two types of material—a strand of crystal flash and some damsel-olive marabou. If that isn’t simple, I’ll eat a plate of damsel and dragon fly nymphs—raw! I recommend that you select your marabou carefully for this fly. Don’t buy the “shorts” or blood-feathers as they are called. Look for the long, fluffy feathers as that is what we will use.



Curved shank hook such as Tiemco 2302 or Daiichi 1260, size 10


Olive 6/0 or 8/0, or 70 denier flat nylon Ultra Thread


5 wraps of .010” lead


Damsel olive marabo


Damsel olive marabou wrapped with a single strand of pearl crystal flash

Wing case:

Damsel olive marabou


Damsel olive marabou


Damsel olive marabou


Tying instructions

  1. Smash the hook barb. Wrap 5 turns of .010” lead at the thorax area.

  2. Tie in a bunch of long-strand marabou as a tail; the tail should extend back around 1.5 times the shank length. The tie-in point is just above the back end of the barb. Don’t trim the butts.

  3. Tie in a piece of pearl crystal flash at the same point as the tail was tied in.

  4. Take the marabou and crystal flash and twist them together counter-clockwise to form a fuzzy rope. It helps to moisten the tips of the fingers you will be using to twist the material.

  5. While still holding the twisted marabou rope, take your hackle pliers and grab the rope near your fingers. I have found that the electrical clip type of hackle pliers work best for this task. Wind the rope forward with the

hackle pliers until you reach a point about 1/3 of the shank length behind the hook eye. Tie off the rope there but don’t cut the butts (see now why we need the long marabou and not the “shorts?”). When you tie off the rope, try to do it so that the butts are directly on top of the hook.

  1. Pull the butts rearward and tie them back in that position; they will be used as a wing case.

  2. Tie in another bunch of marabou by the tips just in front of where the wing case marabou was tied back. Tie in another piece of crystal flash at the same point, and twist the marabou and crystal flash as you did for the abdomen. Wrap a nice, fluffy thorax and tie off the thorax rope about one eye’s length behind the eye .

  3. Pull the wing case marabou forward over the thorax, and then push back on it to form a puffed-up looking wing case and tie it off just behind the eye.

  4. Cut another bunch of marabou and even up the tips by grabbing them with your opposite hand and pulling on the tips. Using scissors to even up marabou results in an unnatural look, so just “pop” the ends off.

  5. Push the tips over the eye of the hook, surrounding the eye as you do so. The tips should extend about half way down the hook shank. Tie the bunch off just behind the eye and whip finish.

Now get dangerous and fish Bill’s Dangerous Damsel with an intermediate line, using slow, short strips to imitate poor-swimming damsel nymphs.

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Copyright 2005 by Granite Bay Flycasters unless otherwise noted.