How To Fish Stillwaters

July 26th, 2004

Stillwaters, lakes, ponds and reservoirs are the most underutilized fisheries in the North America. Why? Because the average fly fisher doesn't know how to fish them, or where to start. Stay tuned, you too can master stillwaters! ~ LadyFisher

Damselflies, Part 2

By Philip Rowley

Those damsels surviving the rigors of emergence fly off to feed and mate. Accomplished fliers, damsels carry on through the summer feeding upon insects such as Chironomids and mosquitoes. Damsels mate in a unique fashion. The male damsel grasps the female just behind her head with a pair of claspers located at the end of his abdomen. The female bends her abdomen forward between the male's legs to complete this intricate mating process. The adults fly around in tandem for some time. Some females deposit their eggs by dropping them over the water, others crawl beneath the water and place their eggs directly into the vegetation. Often still attached to the male. During the mating rituals adults end up stuck on the water's surface. Spent or drowned adults lie flush on the water's surface with their wings swept back forming a "V," providing an attractive meal for trout under the right conditions.

The Lestidae and Coenagrionidae families are the most widespread across western North America. For imitation purposes they are nearly identical. The Lestid nymphs are the more slender of the two and their tails are longer. The only other notable difference is the position of their labium. The Lestid nymph's labium reaches further back between the legs in the retracted position. Lestid nymphs seem to be the better swimmers of the two and are capable of quick darts of speed when needed.

Damselflies come in a rainbow of colors. As with most aquatic organisms, local habitat is the deciding factor. The most common colors of damsel nymphs include shades of brown, olive and green. Nymphs in clear water lakes lean towards a pale watery olive or green while those from algae or tannin lakes are dark olive or brown. Prowl the shoreline to see what the predominant color is. Tenerals are a mustard brown or pale green color. As the adult matures, its coloration changes, but not all adult damsels are the familiar blue and black. Some species are shades of green, brown, red or even yellow.

A pair of mating damsels. The male grasps the female behind her head with a pair of claspers.

Damselfly nymphs favored habitat is amongst shallow weed beds in 15 feet of water or less. Lakes or ponds with a healthy growth of long-stemmed vegetation such as Potamageton and Tulles harbor dense populations of damsel nymphs. Peering down into the water it is common to see damsel nymphs sculling from one spot to another. ~ PR

More on Damselflies from Phil Rowley's excellent book, Fly Patterns for Stillwaters next time.

Credits: Excerpt from Fly Patterns for Stillwaters By Philip Rowley, published by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission.

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