How To Tie A Damselfly Larva? Steps By Step Guide

Do you know Damselfly Larva is highly effective for still water fishing? Many anglers swear by this fly as it is a great imitation of aquatic insect larvae. It is an essential fly that you must have you are doing still-water fishing. So how do you tie a damselfly larva?

You have to be patient throughout the entire process. Start by securing the thread behind the hook’s eye. Add a short tail using olive marabou, keeping it proportionate to the nymph’s size.

Wrap the fine gold wire around the body for reinforcement and flash. Use pearl tinsel for the thorax cover and dub olive marabou for the thorax. Attach a soft fiber hackle for the legs, secure it, and finish with a whip finish. Enjoy tying your own damselfly larva pattern!

In this step-by-step guide, I will unravel the secrets of tying a damselfly larva, a pattern that has proven irresistible to trout and other fish in still waters and lakes. So let’s dive in!

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Why Damselfly Larva Patterns Matter?

Damselfly larva patterns hold immense significance for anglers who frequent still waters and lakes. These patterns are not just another option in a fly box; they are essential for a successful fishing expedition. Let’s figure out why damselfly larva patterns matter and why anglers should pay attention to them:

The Food Source for Trout and Other Fish:

Damselflies are a vital food source for trout and various other fish species. These aquatic insects spend a significant portion of their lives in the water as larva or nymphs.

As they mature, they become a delectable meal for hungry fish. Trout, in particular, have a voracious appetite for damselfly larva. By presenting an accurate imitation, anglers increase their chances of enticing these fish and triggering strikes.

Effective Imitation through Fly Tying Techniques:

To effectively imitate damselfly larva, anglers must rely on fly-tying techniques. By crafting a fly that closely resembles the appearance and movement of the natural insect, anglers can fool fish into believing it is a genuine food source.

This requires attention to detail, selecting the right materials, and mastering the tying process. An accurately tied damselfly larva pattern increases the angler’s chances of success on the water.

Enhancing Realism and Attractiveness:

By tying their own damselfly larva patterns, anglers can customize the fly to match the specific characteristics of the insects found in their local fishing spots.

This customization allows for enhanced realism and attractiveness, increasing the fly’s appeal to the fish. Furthermore, anglers can experiment with different color variations, sizes, and weights to adapt to changing conditions and the preferences of the fish.

In summary, damselfly larva patterns matter because these insects serve as a vital food source for trout and other fish. Anglers who seek success in still waters and lakes should focus on tying effective imitations that closely mimic the appearance and behavior of damselflies.

Understanding Damselflies: Behavior and Appearance

Dive into the world of damselflies and their characteristics, and discover what makes them unique compared to other aquatic insects. By understanding their behavior underwater, anglers can design flies that effectively imitate damselflies and entice fish.

Damselfly Characteristics:

Damselflies belong to the order Odonata and are closely related to dragonflies. While they may resemble their larger cousins, damselflies have distinct characteristics that set them apart. Damselflies are typically smaller and more delicate, with slender bodies and intricately patterned wings.

They are known for their vibrant colors, ranging from shades of blue and green to black and tan. These eye-catching features make damselflies an attractive target for anglers aiming to match their appearance with their fly patterns.

Unique Features and Behavior:

One of the most distinctive features of damselflies is their slender body shape, which allows them to move gracefully through the water.

Unlike dragonflies, damselflies hold their wings folded back when at rest, giving them a more streamlined profile. This characteristic flight position is crucial to consider when designing damselfly larva patterns.

Understanding Damselflies Behavior and Appearance | Honest Fishers

Additionally, damselflies exhibit a unique behavior called “bobbing,” where they rhythmically move their abdomen up and down while swimming. This bobbing motion is an essential behavioral cue that anglers can incorporate into their fly designs to attract fish.

Underwater Behavior and Fly Design:

Damselfly larvae spend a significant portion of their lives underwater, where they actively forage and seek shelter. They are commonly found near aquatic vegetation, using their slender bodies to navigate through the plants. This behavior influences the design of damselfly larva patterns.

To effectively imitate damselfly behavior, anglers should create flies with slender profiles, incorporating materials that mimic the appearance and movement of these insects. Using materials such as marabou or soft hackle can help simulate the undulating motion of damselfly larvae.

Additionally, incorporating bead or lead wire into the fly’s construction can add weight, allowing the imitation to sink and reach the desired depth where damselflies are commonly found.

Understanding the characteristics and behavior of damselflies is crucial for designing effective fly patterns. Paying attention to these details increases the chances of enticing fish and experiencing successful fishing expeditions in still waters and lakes.

Materials and Tools You’ll Need

To tie a damselfly larva, also known as a damselfly nymph, you’ll need a few essential materials. Each material serves a specific purpose in creating a realistic and effective fly pattern. You must gather the following materials and tools before beginning the tying process:

Tying Thread:

The tying thread is the foundation of any fly pattern. It secures the materials in place and provides strength to the fly. Opt for a strong thread in a suitable color, such as olive or brown, to match the natural colors of the damselfly nymph. You can find tying threads at local fly shops, online retailers, or even craft stores.

Olive Marabou:

Marabou feathers are crucial for creating the tail and body of the damselfly nymph. Select olive-colored marabou to imitate the nymph’s natural appearance.

Marabou feathers have excellent movement in the water, attracting the attention of trout. You can obtain marabou from fly shops, online suppliers, or by harvesting feathers from craft stores.

Fine Gold Wire:

The fine gold wire serves two purposes in the damselfly nymph pattern. Firstly, it adds a subtle flash to mimic the nymph’s natural iridescence. Secondly, it reinforces the body, making it more durable.

Look for fine gold wire in fly-tying sections of tackle shops or online retailers specializing in fly-tying materials.

Pearl Tinsel:

Pearl tinsel is used to create the thorax cover of the damselfly nymph. It adds a reflective element, imitating the nymph’s shimmering appearance underwater.

Choose wide pearl tinsel for better coverage. You can find pearl tinsel in fly-tying supply stores or online shops that offer a variety of tinsel options.

Olive Soft Fiber Hackle:

The olive-soft fiber hackle forms the legs of the damselfly nymph. This material adds movement and lifelike qualities to the fly, attracting strikes from trout.

Opt for dyed olive hackle with soft, flexible fibers. Fly shops or online retailers specializing in fly tying materials are good sources for obtaining olive soft fiber hackle.


Aside from the materials mentioned above, you’ll also need a few essential tools to tie the damselfly nymph. These tools include:

  • Fly Tying Vise: A vise holds the hook securely, allowing you to work on the fly comfortably. Various fly-tying vises are available, ranging from basic to more advanced models. Consider visiting a local fly shop to see different options and get advice from experienced tyers.
  • Bobbin: A bobbin holds and controls the tension of the tying thread. It enables you to apply thread wraps smoothly and efficiently. Look for a bobbin that feels comfortable in your hand and has a durable construction. Fly shops or online retailers are good places to find bobbins.
  • Scissors: Sharp, fine-tipped scissors are essential for the precise cutting of materials. They allow you to trim excess materials neatly and create clean, well-defined fly patterns. Fly-tying scissors are specifically designed for this purpose and are available at fly shops or online retailers.
  • Hackle Pliers: Hackle pliers provide a firm grip on delicate materials like hackle feathers. They make it easier to wrap hackle fibers around the hook and secure them in place. Look for hackle pliers with a comfortable grip and smooth operation. Fly shops or online suppliers are reliable sources for hackle pliers.

Remember to explore local fly shops, online retailers, or even fly-tying expos to find a wide range of materials and tools for tying damselfly nymphs. Experimenting with different materials and colors can add versatility to your fly box and increase your chances of success on the water.

Step-by-Step Guide to Tying a Damselfly Larva

Tying your own damselfly larva, also known as a damselfly nymph, can be a rewarding experience and a valuable addition to your fly box. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of tying a realistic and effective damselfly nymph pattern. So, let’s get started!

Step 1: Secure the Tying Thread

Attach the tying thread to the hook by running it just behind the eye and locking the loose end in place. Trim off any excess thread. Carry the thread down the shank in close turns until it reaches a point roughly opposite the barb.

Step 2: Create the Tail

Take a pinch of olive marabou from the plume and tear it off to the desired length for the tail. Remember, the tail of a damselfly nymph should not be too long, as it imitates the natural nymph’s proportions.

Position the tail at the bend of the hook and carry the thread forward, securing the waste ends along the shank.

Step 3: Add the Fine Gold Wire

Cut a length of fine gold wire and offer it up to the hook. Catch it down on the far side of the shank, then draw the end through and take the thread down to the base of the tail. This wire will reinforce the body and add a subtle flash to the fly.

Step 4: Secure the Marabou Fibers

From the tip of the marabou feather used for the tail, tear off a few fibers and catch them in by the tips at the base of the tail. Draw them through and secure them in place with thread wraps. These fibers will enhance the lifelike appearance of the damselfly nymph.

Step 5: Form the Body

Start by threading the marabou bunch, which you just tied in, and back up the shank until it covers approximately 3/4 of the hook. Take hold of the marabou by its tips and unwind it over the shank to form a nice, slim body. Secure the tips with thread wraps, and trim off any excess material.

Step 6: Wrap the Fine Gold Wire

Now, take hold of the fine gold wire and start winding it up over the body in evenly spaced turns. Continue wrapping until you reach the point where the part of the thread is. Secure the wire with a few turns of thread and then wiggle the end back and forth a few times until it snaps off.

Step-by-Step Guide to Tying a Damselfly Larva | Honest Fishers

Step 7: Add the Thorax Cover

Cut a small length of wide pearl tinsel from the spool. Offer it up to the hook and catch it just in front of the body with a couple of turns of thread. Adjust its position so that it sits nicely on top of the body. Secure it in place with thread wraps.

Step 8: Create the Thorax

Take a small pinch of olive marabou from the base of the plume, selecting the fluffiest fibers. Dub this marabou onto the thread to create the thorax. Wind the dubbed thread toward the eye of the hook, forming a slightly thicker section that imitates the nymph’s thorax.

Step 9: Attach the Olive Soft Fiber Hackle

Prepare the dyed soft olive fiber hackle by stripping away the fibers from the base, leaving a bare section of the stem. Offer it up to the hook, just behind the eye, and catch it in place with a few turns of thread. Ensure that the hackle is positioned correctly.

Step 10: Wrap the Hackle

Take your hackle pliers and grab the tip of the hackle. Begin winding it on with a couple of turns, securing it in place behind the eye. Once the hackle is secured, trim off the waste end of the hackle stem, leaving a clean finish.

Step 11: Secure the Pearl Tinsel

Draw the pearl tinsel over the back of the thorax, catching the loose end with thread wraps. Pull the tinsel forward slightly to create tension, then make another turn and draw it back a couple of turns underneath. This will ensure that the tinsel is firmly in place.

Step 12: Finish the Fly

Hold the hackle fibers back out of the way and create a small head with thread wraps. Finish off with a two or three-turn whip finish, drawing it tight. Trim off the loose end of the thread, and voila! You’ve tied a damselfly larva pattern ready for action.

Remember to practice these steps and adjust the proportions and colors of the materials to match the damselfly nymphs found in your local waters.

Tying your own damselfly larva allows you to customize the pattern and create variations that can entice even the most selective trout. So, have fun, get creative, and enjoy the process of tying your own flies!

Tips and Tricks for Perfecting Your Larva Pattern

To enhance the realism and effectiveness of your damselfly larva pattern, incorporating expert tips and tricks can make a significant difference.

From color selection to proportions and additional embellishments, these insights will help you create an irresistible fly that will entice fish in still waters and lakes.

Color Selection:

Choosing the right colors for your damselfly larva pattern is crucial for attracting fish. Damselflies display a wide range of colors, including blues, greens, and tans. To determine the most effective color scheme, observe the damselflies in your local fishing area.

Take note of their prevalent colors and match them as closely as possible with your fly. Consider using different shades of blue and green, and experiment with adding hints of tan or black to mimic natural variations.

Additionally, incorporating a subtle iridescent quality using materials like flashabou or holographic tinsel can further enhance the realism of your pattern.


Achieving proper proportions in your damselfly larva pattern is essential for making it appear realistic. Damselfly larvae typically have elongated bodies with a slender profile. When tying your fly, ensure that the body length is proportional to the hook size you’re using.

An effective approach is to use a hook that is one to two sizes larger than what you would typically use for other patterns. This larger hook will provide ample space to create a slim and elongated body.

To achieve the desired proportions, use materials like thin chenille, microtubing, or synthetic fibers. Adjust the length and thickness of the body materials accordingly to match the size and shape of damselfly larvae.

Additional Embellishments:

To add extra realism and enticement to your damselfly larva pattern, consider incorporating additional embellishments. One effective technique is to include a small bead or sequin near the head of the fly to simulate the characteristic eyes of damselflies.

This simple addition can attract the attention of fish and make your fly appear more lifelike. Another option is to incorporate a sparse and soft hackle near the rear of the fly.

The hackle will add movement and give the impression of legs or gills, making the fly more enticing to fish. Experiment with different materials, such as marabou or ostrich herl, to create a natural-looking and animated effect.

Common Pitfalls and Mistakes:

While tying damselfly larva patterns, it’s important to be aware of common pitfalls and mistakes to avoid.

  • One common error is overloading the fly with excessive materials, resulting in a bulky and unnatural appearance. Damselfly larvae are sleek and slender, so maintaining a streamlined profile is crucial.
  • Another mistake is neglecting to add weight to the fly. Since damselfly larvae reside underwater, ensuring that your imitation sinks to the appropriate depth are essential. Consider incorporating lead wire or bead chain eyes to provide the necessary weight for proper presentation.
  • Avoid neglecting the finer details, such as proper segmentation and smooth thread wraps. Paying attention to these small but critical elements will elevate the realism of your fly and increase its effectiveness.

By following these expert tips and tricks, you can perfect your damselfly larva pattern and increase your chances of success on the water. Carefully selecting colors, maintaining proper proportions, incorporating additional embellishments, and avoiding common mistakes will enhance the realism and effectiveness of your fly.

Practical Application: Fishing Techniques

Using a damselfly larva pattern effectively requires employing suitable fishing techniques that maximize your chances of success.

By understanding retrieval methods, presentation strategies, and key considerations, you can enhance your fishing experience and increase your catch rate when targeting fish with damselfly larvae.

Retrieval Methods:

When fishing with a damselfly larva pattern, it’s important to mimic the natural movement of the larvae underwater. Damselfly larvae exhibit a characteristic swimming action, where they undulate their bodies and move in short bursts.

To replicate this movement, utilize a slow and intermittent retrieve. Start by casting your fly out and allowing it to sink to the desired depth. Then, retrieve the fly in short, subtle strips, imitating the short bursts of movement that damselfly larvae make.

Pausing intermittently during the retrieve can also simulate the natural behavior of these insects. This retrieval method entices fish by imitating the vulnerable and enticing movement of damselfly larvae.

Presentation Strategies:

To effectively present your damselfly larva pattern, consider the following strategies:

Target Weedy Areas: Damselfly larvae are commonly found in aquatic vegetation and weed beds. These areas provide them with cover and a reliable food source. Focus your fishing efforts on these weedy areas, as they are likely to attract fish seeking damselfly larvae.

Vary the Depth: Experimenting with different depths is crucial when fishing with damselfly larva patterns. Damselfly larvae can be found at various depths in the water column, so it’s important to determine the depth at which fish are actively feeding.

Utilize sinking lines or adjust your retrieve speed to fish at different depths and find the most productive zone.

Practical Application_ Fishing Techniques | Honest Fishers

Use Subsurface Techniques: Damselfly larvae primarily inhabit the subsurface region of still waters and lakes. Therefore, employing subsurface techniques like nymphing or using sinking lines can be highly effective.

By presenting your fly below the water’s surface, you increase the chances of intercepting feeding fish.

Key Considerations for Success:

To maximize your success when fishing with damselfly larva patterns, keep the following considerations in mind:

Time of Year: Damselfly activity varies throughout the year, so understanding their life cycle and emergence patterns is crucial.

Typically, damselfly larvae are most active during the spring and summer months, when they are actively feeding and preparing for their emergence as adults. Focus your fishing efforts during these periods for optimal results.

Water Temperature: Damselflies prefer warmer water temperatures, so targeting areas where the water is slightly warmer can increase your chances of encountering feeding fish.

Shallow bays, sun-exposed areas, or areas near inflows can provide the ideal conditions for damselfly activity.

Observation and Adaptation: Always observe the water and take note of any signs of damselfly larvae or adult damselflies. Look for surface activity, such as fish rises or swirls near the vegetation, indicating active feeding.

Adapt your approach and adjust your fly selection based on these observations to increase your chances of success.

By employing suitable retrieval methods, implementing effective presentation strategies, and considering key factors such as timing, water temperature, and observation, you can enhance your success when fishing with damselfly larva patterns.


Mastering the art of tying a damselfly larva pattern opens up a world of opportunities for anglers.

Understanding the significance of these patterns, the behavior and appearance of damselflies, perfecting the fly design, and applying effective fishing techniques are all key elements to achieving success on the water.

We hope this guide has provided valuable insights and inspiration for your fly-tying and fishing endeavors. For more fishing tips, techniques, and updates, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.