If you are an angler that frequently fishes still waters and lakes, learning how to tie an effective damselfly larva pattern is a must.

Damselflies frequent many still waters, lakes, and rivers around the world. They are an important food source to trout, and therefore, an important pattern for the fly fisherman.

Growing up fishing for trout in the still waters of South Africa, the damselfly has caught me many fish. Originally, I fished it using a relatively fast retrieve. But only after realizing how damselflies move and act underwater did the true potential of this fly come to life.

This step-by-step guide will teach you what a damselfly is, how to fish it, and, most importantly, how to tie an effective imitation.

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Quick Look

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Tying Time: 5 minutes
  • Materials: Hook, thread, marabou, ribbing wire, flashback material, mallard feather, 25lb monofilament, dubbing wax, dubbing, and head cement.
  • Hook Size: 8 – 16

What Is A Damselfly Larva?

A damselfly adult closely resembles a dragonfly, except that the damsel is much more delicate. In general, they’re much smaller and have very thin abdomens. The larval stage of the damselfly is no different.

Learn To Tie a Damselfly Larva Step19

There are three distinct characteristics of a damselfly larva that should be kept in mind when tying an imitation:

  • Damselfly larvae have very slender abdomens. This means that the tail and abdomen sections of the fly need to be kept as thin as possible;
  • The eyes are pronounced but not massive;
  • They have a flat profiled head.

How To Fish A Damselfly Larva

To understand how to fish a damselfly imitation, one needs to understand how the larva operates underwater. Mostly, the nymph prefers hanging around structure such as weed beds, aquatic grass and reeds. Therefore, fishing these flies close to structure can prove to be very effective.

Fly Fishing Flathead River Montana

A damselfly larva moves very slowly. Different than a dragonfly larva’s movement, a damselfly wiggles from side to side. They also drift sluggishly through the water.

With the understanding of the two abovementioned facts, it’s easy to determine the most effective way to fish a damselfly larva. In both rivers and still waters, fish it close to an aquatic structure. It also works well when dead drifted with a team of buzzers.

Materials You’ll Need To Tie A Damselfly Larva

The following materials are needed to tie a damselfly larva:

Hook

A damselfly has a long and slender body. For this reason, make use of a 2X long straight shank hook. Match the size of the hook to the size of damselfly larvae in the area you are planning to fish.

fly tying hooks

Recommended Fly Tying Hooks:
XFISHMAN Assorted Fly Tying Hooks #10-16

Thread

You can make use of any medium-thin thread. I would not recommend making use of thick thread, like 210D, etc. The ideal thread size is 70 Denier. Colors that you can make use of include:

  • White;
  • Tan;
  • Olive; and
  • Grey.

Recommended 70 Denier Fly Tying Thread:
Ultra Thread 70 Denier UTC

Weight (optional)

You can add lead wire to the fly to increase its relative density. I would not recommend adding tungsten beads as the fly, in general, needs to be fished quite slowly.

fly tying wire

Recommended Lead Wire:
Hareline Dubbin Lead Wire Spool .015

Marabou

Marabou is used to create the tail and abdomen of the damselfly. Most damselfly larva imitations are tied in some shade of green. In the still waters that I fish, I’ve tried shades of brown, but it doesn’t seem to work as well.

fly tying Feathers

You can vary the colors in shades of green, including:

  • Chartreuse,
  • Olive; and
  • Caddis green.

Recommended Marabou Feathers:
Creative Angler Marabou Assorted Colors

Ribbing

The ribbing wire creates segmentation of the abdomen and secures the delicate marabou fibers. The following colors can be used:

  • Gold;
  • Copper;
  • Silver;
  • Green; and
  • Translucent (Mono).

Recommended Copper Ribbing Wire:
Phecda 10pcs Assorted Colors 0.3MM Copper Wire

Flashback material

Flashback material is used as a trigger point to cover the thorax.

fly tying flash

Any semi-translucent material cut to the correct width may be used. These include:

Recommended Flash Material:
Phecda Sport 10 Pack Colorful Fly Tying Flash

Mallard feather

A single mallard feather is used to create the legs. Mallard is available in the natural color, but also comes in dyed colors like olive and brown. If you don’t have any mallard lying around, you can make use of:

  • Pheasant;
  • Partridge; and
  • Hen neck feathers.

Recommended Mallard Feather:
Hareline Mallard Flank Feathers

Dubbing Wax

Dubbing wax makes the forming of fine dubbing noodles much easier. If you don’t have dubbing wax, it’s not a train smash. In that case, using slightly wet fingers to form the noodle will help.

Fly Tying Dubbing Wax

Recommended Dubbing Wax:
Loon Outdoors Swax High Tack Dubbing Wax

Dubbing

An olive or green dubbing is used to create a thorax. I am making use of Hemingway’s Hare’s Dubbing Plus UV. It incorporates UV fibers and hare guard fibers. Perfect for a thorax.

Recommended Dubbing Material:
Hareline Ice Dub – Dispenser W/ 12 Popular Colors

Monofilament

A thick mono is melted with a lighter to create the eyes. Make use of any mono 25lb or heavier.

Recommended Monofiliment:
Ande Monofilament Line

UV resin or head cement

The thread head of the fly needs to be finished with either UV resin or any other head cement. This will ensure the durability of the fly.

fly tying resin and glue

Recommended UV Glue / Resin:
Loon Outdoors UV Clear Finish

Tools Needed to Tie A Damselfly Larva

You’ll need the following tools to die a damselfly larva:

 
Play Video

Let's Get Started!

How To Tie a Damselfly Larva

Follow the step-by-step procedure below to learn how to tie a Damselfly Larva. The exact materials that I am using in this procedure are:

Damselfly Larva Recipe

  • Hook: Mouche 8443 size 10
  • Thread: White Gordon Griffiths Sheer 14/0;
  • Tail: Long olive marabou fibers;
  • Ribbing: Gold UTC Ultra Wire;
  • Abdomen: Long olive marabout fibers;
  • Wing case: Flashback material;
  • Legs: Mallard feather;
  • Thorax: Olive Hemingway’s Hare’s Dubbing Plus UV;
  • Eyes: Burnt 25lb Maxima Ultra Green;
  • Superglue; and
  • Loon Outdoors Low Tack Swax dubbing wax.

Step 1: Place The Hook in The Vise

Place the hook between the jaws of the vise with your right hand’s thumb and forefinger. The hook point should protrude, the location of the barb (if present) should be visible, and the hook shank must be level. 

Lock the hook in place by flipping the cam lever. Give it a firm wiggle to check that it is firmly secured inside of the jaws of the vise.

How to tie a Damselfly Larva Step1

Step 2: Lock in The Thread

Hold the end of the thread in your left hand and wind the thread over the hook shank. After making about 5 wraps run the thread over itself. Let the bobbin hang freely and cut off the excess thread.

How to tie a Damselfly Larva Step2

Step 3: Lay a Thread Foundation

Move the thread forward with touching turns. Stop just behind the eye of the hook. Then, once again with touching turns, wrap the thread rearward and stop where the hook starts to bend. The thread should intersect the hook’s barb when the bobbin is left to hang free.

How to tie a Damselfly Larva Step3

Step 4: Tie in The Marabou Tail

Cut between 5 and 10 long marabou fibers from the feather. The length of the tail should be in the region of 1.5 times the length of the shank. Place the tying in point onto the shank and pinch it in place. Secure the tail with one or two pinch wraps and cut off the excess.

How to tie a Damselfly Larva Step4

Step 5: Tie in The Ribbing Material

Run the thread forward to approximately 1/3 the hook shank length behind the eye. Break off a section of ribbing wire and tie in where you left the thread. 

Wrap the thread rearward securing the ribbing and keeping the wire positioned on the side of the hook shank. Stop when you reach the base of the tail.

How to tie a Damselfly Larva Step5

Step 6: Tie in The Marabou For The Abdomen

Cut 5 long marabou fibers from the feather. Cut their tips so that they align and tie the tips in at the base of the tail. Advance the thread to 1/3 the hook shank length behind the eye.

damselfly larva fly tying tutorial Step6

Step 7: Form The Abdomen

Gently wrap the marabou feathers around the shank in the same direction as the thread. Ensure that the thread base is covered. Secure the marabou once you reach the location where you left the thread. Cut off the excess.

damselfly larva fly tying tutorial Step7

Step 8: Rib The Abdomen

Wrap the ribbing in the opposite direction than that of the marabou abdomen. This will secure the delicate marabou feathers. The ribbing should create evenly spaced segmentation on the body. Secure once you reach the thread and cut off any excess.

damselfly larva fly tying tutorial Step8

Step 9: Tie in The Flashback Material

Tie in a 1/8-inch wide and 1-inch long section of flashback material on top of the hook shank. This will form the wing case of the fly.

You can secure it in with a few simple wraps to start and then secure it down tighter in later steps.

damselfly larva fly tying tutorial Step9

Step 10: Dub The First Part of The Thorax

Apply a thin coating of dubbing wax to the thread. Form a thin and tight dubbing noodle and create a thorax for half the remaining length of the hook.

damselfly larva fly tying tutorial Step10

Step 11: Prepare The Mallard Feather

Remove the tuft at the base of the feather. Cut a V-shape in the tip of the feather with a sharp-point scissor. Half the remaining fibers on both sides of the feather by pulling them off the stem.

Damselfly Larva Fly Pattern Step11

Step 12: Tie in The Mallard Feather

Place the feather on top of the hook shank with the fibers pointing rearward in their natural direction. Make 3 loose wraps around the feather and pull the feather outward to adjust the leg length. 

The legs should be able to barely touch the hook point if folded back. Secure the feather and cut off the excess.

Damselfly Larva Fly Pattern Step12

Step 13: Secure The Flashback Material

Pull the flashback material over the thorax and secure it. This will splay the leg fibers out as well. 

Do not cut off the excess flashback material as this will be used to cover the head section of the fly.

Damselfly Larva Fly Pattern Step13

Step 14: Make The Mono Eyes

Cut a length of mono approximately ¾-inch long and place the mid-point in a hackle plier. Burn both ends with a lighter to form the eyes. 

Use a permanent marker and UV resin to make the eyes darker and bigger.

Damselfly Larva Fly Pattern Step14

Step 15: Tie in The Mono Eyes

The hackle plier created a flat section in the middle of the mono eyes. Place this on top of the hook shank in the middle of the remaining hook space. 

Secure with figure-of-eight wraps and a drop of super glue.

Damselfly Larva Fly Pattern Step15

Step 16: Dub The Head Section

Take the thread back to where the remaining flashback material was left. Apply a thin coating of dubbing wax on the thread and form a dubbing noodle. 

Dub the head section by wrapping around the eyes, creating a flat and wide head.

Learn To Tie a Damselfly Larva Step16

Step 17: Secure The Flashback Material

Pull the remaining flashback material over the head of the fly and secure just behind the eye of the hook with a couple of wraps. 

Pull the flashback rearward and create a small head behind the hook’s eye. Cut off the excess flashback material.

Learn To Tie a Damselfly Larva Step17

Step 18: Whip Finish The Fly

Form a thread head on the fly and tie the fly off with two whip finishes. Cut off the thread.

If you don’t know how to do a whip finish, don’t worry! We have a very useful, step-by-step guide with a video tutorial to show you exactly how to whip finish a fly.

Learn To Tie a Damselfly Larva Step18

Step 19: Apply Head Cement

Apply your favorite head cement or UV resin to the thread head. Make sure that the top, bottom, and sides have been coated. 

Also, run a section of ribbing wire through the eye of the hook to make sure that no resin has blocked it.

Learn To Tie a Damselfly Larva Step19

The Damselfly Nymph

How To Tie a Damsel Fly Larva

Now You Know

How To Tie a Damselfly Nymph

Once you’ve fished this damselfly imitation it will probably be the only one you’ll ever use. It has all the characteristics and trigger points that make a successful pattern.

Please share this post with your fishing friends and leave any questions and comments down below. I would love to hear your thoughts on this pattern and am happy to answer any questions.

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How To Tie A Damselfly Larva A Step-By-Step GuideHow To Tie A Damselfly Larva Fly