FLY OF THE MONTH – JUNE 2024

THE BLUE DAMSEL DRY FLY

HOOK: Size 10 short shank.
THREAD: Blue 8/0.
BODY/THORAX COVER/HEAD: 3mm or 3.2mm blue foam cylinder.
WING: A few strands of silver ‘Organza’ fibres or similar.
THORAX: Fine blue dubbing.
HACKLE: Cock grizzle dyed blue.

During June and July on a nice day, you will probably see a few blue damsels flying around. The blue flies are the males with the females a drab olive in colour. When mating, the pair often fly just above the water surface and the trout will sometimes chase after them, and occasionally catch them by jumping out of the water. Unfortunately, the general lack of weed beds in our two lakes means that damsels are quite scarce here but imitations can be very effective. If there are fish moving at this time of year, I like to fish a single fly on a strong fluorocarbon leader amongst the weed beds, casting into likely holes from a drifting boat. Keeping on the move along the bank is another useful tactic. The constant high water levels in the east lake last season resulted in a lot of weed growth which eventually became very heavy. There were quite a few fish lurking there and the dry blue damsel extracted a few for me. A single fly is a must, you can’t afford to have another hook trailing behind a fighting fish, it will invariably get snagged and you would probably loose both the fish and your flies.

Damsel flies have a large aquatic nymph which swims to shore when it is ready to hatch into the adult fly. It will usually swim just below the surface, looking like a small fish. It is now when it becomes an easy target for the trout which can take them enthusiastically with a lot of commotion at the surface. The nymph can vary in colour from light green to dark brown, but a mid-olive is probably the most popular colour to try. When they reach dry land, the nymph will crawl out and after a short while the adult fly will emerge.

Above: The blue damsel strikes again! A well conditioned fish from the east lake weedbeds caught last season.

On days when there is not much showing at the surface, the leaded version of the damsel nymph is a good ‘search’ fly to have on your leader, let it sink well down before beginning a steady ‘figure-of-eight’ retrieve. A good alternative is an olive damsel nymph tied with a gold bead at the head, this is a great fly whether damsels are hatching or not.

During the latter half of June and into July, you may come across fish feeding on pin fry. These will be perch or dace fry which are only about 15 – 20 mm in length. They are semi-transparent with prominent eyes, a silver belly and red around the gills. During calm conditions fry can be seen dimpling the surface in large shoals and the trout will not be far away. Try a Sinfoil’s Fry, Peter Ross, Butcher or a Silver Invicta, all of which look like small fish. A small floating fry using deer hair or white foam fry are also worth a cast. Most flies mentioned in previous months will continue to work, especially those to imitate midge pupae which are now larger and in a wider variety of colours.
From the end of May for a couple of months there will be some Mayfly hatching at the surface. These large upwing flies are easily imitated but I have generally found that the trout seem to be quite scared of such a large floating fly. The fish will often ignore them or just splash at them. Having said that I have spoken to other members at Hallington and some have had good fishing with dry mayflies. It is still worth trying a floating imitation if you see fish taking them but a nymph imitation such as Walker’s Mayfly Nymph will probably produce more hook-ups.

Phil Bilbrough