FOSAF NEWS - March Fly of the month: The Useful Damsel by Myburgh Van Zijl

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I can hardly claim this pattern as my own. Like most flies really, this is an amalgamation and, to my mind at least, somewhat of a simplification, of a bunch of similar inventions you’ve likely already seen. The fly has a lot less to do with being a “Damsel”, that is, a damselfly nymph (which it only loosely resembles anyway), and more with being a very versatile, unweighted nymph/streamer pattern, or just “damn useful”.

 

It started off as a Stillwater pattern for trout (which it performs fine for - both fished solo or in a team with other weighted patterns), but it really comes into its own when you need something that sinks slowly enough to visibly track and looks vaguely like an invertebrate - so basically any sight fishing situation in still or slow moving freshwater.

I tie them in sizes 8 - 12, and black, brown, and olive are staple colours. As with any SBS, you should consider this as more of a recommendation rather than a prescriptive guide, and I encourage you to experiment. Some thin rubber legs, UV dubbing, or a CDC collar could definitely add something.

MATERIALS:

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HOOK: Streamer hook in sizes 8 - 12

(Any longer shank streamer hook will suffice, but the gauge of the Dohiku S suits the application for this pattern, and I simply adore the hook shape.)

THREAD: Griffiths Sheer 14/0

(This is largely up to you. Tie on the thinnest thread you’re comfortable with and try align the colour choice with what you want the final fly to look like.)

TAIL AND BODY: Marabou

(The better-quality stuff is definitely easier to work with and will make for a better fly, but isn’t crucial to the success of this pattern)

EYES: 40lb mono, burnt with a candle

(I like mono eyes, but chenille will work fine. Use thicker mono for bigger eyes, or bead chain if you want to adjust the sink rate.)

RIB: 7X mono and thin copper wire

(Neither are these are strictly necessary - you could use doubled-up thread as well - but I like the added durability of the mono and the look added by the wire.)

HEAD: Natural dubbing

(Any dubbing similar in colour and texture to the marabou will suffice.)

STEPS:

1. Create a thread base on the hookshank and tie in the 7X mono and copper wire. Transfer your thread to the start of the hook bend.

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2. Strip a 1cm “pinch” of marabou from one side of the feather. The longer, straighter, and less broken the fibres are, the better.

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3. Tie in the marabou at their tips at the start of the hook bend, leaving them as long as you desire your tail to be. I find shorter to be better.

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4. Wrap the excess marabou up the shank to the point where you’d like the back of the head to start and tie off. Use a soft bristle brush (an old toothbrush is ideal) to gently coax out any trapped or matted fibres.

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5. Separately wrap the 6X mono and wire up the shank, tying off at the same point as the mono. Brush again if necessary.

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6+7. Cut a 2cm piece of 40lb mono and clamp it in the middle with forceps or needle nose pliers. Burn the edges to shape the eyes. Research how to do this first if you haven’t before.

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8. Tie in mono eyes in the middle of the remaining visible hook shank, that is between where you tied off all the materials and the hook eye.

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9. Build a dubbing head around the mono eyes and tie off at the eye.

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