Common Names: Damselfly, bluet, forktail, dancer
Scientific Names: suborder Zygotptera, family Coenagrionidae

Damselflies are closely related to dragonflies and have a similar life-cycle. However, damselflies are more numerous, and both nymphs and adults are eaten by fish.

Nymphs are usually found near the weedy margins of stillwaters or very slow portions of rivers. Through worm-like wiggling, they can swim slowly, but usually they cling to weed stems and ambush their prey. At this stage of their life they are sometimes taken by trout, and a damselfly nymph imitation is effective in the weeks leading up to the hatch.

When mature, damselfly nymphs migrate in large numbers to above-water objects, travelling mostly in the top inch or two of water. This can provoke feeding frenzies by trout. Since the adults hatch out of the water, nymph patterns are more useful than dry flies. Migration season--July on many stillwaters--can be the most productive time to fish a damselfly nymph.

Adult damselflies live a month or more after hatching. They can be seen flying over the water on warm, sunny afternoons, looking for an easy meal at the expense of a luckless midge or mosquito. They sometimes hover just above the water, and an unfortunate gust of wind can leave them stuck in the film. They may also land on the water if the air is still. Females release their eggs in the water, too. So there are opportunities for trout to sip adult damselflies, and an adult pattern is a useful imitation in the right conditions. Overall, though, the nymphs are the most productive stage to imitate.

For about six weeks after the hatch there are few damselfly nymphs of any size, and trout mostly leave them alone. However, by fall the new brood of damselflies has hatched into nymphs. While they are not as big as they will be the next spring, they are still large enough to interest trout. A small version of a standard nymph, tied in a tan color, can be very effective in September and early October.


How to Match a Damselfly

Hatches are matched from Westfly's database of "standard" fly patterns.


NYMPH COLOR: Browns, greens, yellow-greens

ADULT SIZE: 25-45 mm (1 to 1-1/2 in)

ADULT COLOR: Body--blue, green, brown, often with dark bands on abdomen

OTHER CHARACTERISTICS: Nymph--slender and long; large head with prominent eyes. Adult--when at rest, folds wings straight back along body.