I was going to lead with Sexy Damsels, but opted for Diminutive. Both are probably too provocative for the perverts out there. I mean when I use Nymphs, I get all manner of visits from those less concerned with entomology and fly fishing and more with waif like female forms. Well, the Damselfly is worthy of fly porn representation because in its own right, it is enticing to Trout. Double Click on Image for better look at patterns.
The diminutive Damselfly is a staple enticer pattern for lakes/stillwaters. Fish it on an Intermediate or Floating line on a more horizontal plane. I recall reading long ago, somewhere, that a Damsel pattern should be fished either parallel to the shoreline or toward the shoreline. I have caught Trout all over lakes, in the upper strata, regardless of direction of retrieve, BUT I have had the most success closer to the shoreline/reeds/structure with short strips/figure 8 retrieves…slow and easy.
Tan, Brown, Olive, Lt. Green colors all produce. Wind drifting/pulling the fly behind on the shoals or retrieving by hand along the shoreline, the Damselfly patterns are an essential option for lakes. Research the life cycle of Damselflies and how they move when in the water. Adjust your visualization/retrieve accordingly.
Two Styles of Intermediate Clear lines. The Cortland Camo is my recommendation. ‘Clear’ lines have come a long ways in the last 15 years.
Rather than reinventing the wheel, I am pointing the way to apiece by Denny Rickards. It is actually his site promoting the sale of various fly lines. In the promotion of the varied lines is a lot of good information that will benefit the stillwater fly fisher that has not quite sorted out the presentation part yet and still only carries a floating line. You would be well served to primarily use a ‘clear’ Intermediate as your primary line and from there consider the floater and perhaps a faster sinking line (less used). I do not promote any sales on this blog. I just believe Rickards does present excellent information about presentation, which is often as important or more important than fly selection. Rickards also had several informative books out on the market that worth a read if you are learning the basics of stillwater fly fishing.
It is about time to try that wind drifted fly beneath a slip bobber or a suspended midge pupa on your favorite lake. I have posted similar videos before re this technique. Came upon this one via Singlebarbed at Idaho Fly Company. Scroll down to the short clip and watch the simple instructions. Remember the advice to keep the loop shorter than the peg. Use as small of an indicator/bobber as you can. Use this to wind drift a pattern across a stretch or into an area. Also, if you need that pattern to stay put and at a certain depth downwind of you…this will accomplish that presentation.
This may not be the most fun way to fly fish, but the technique should be added to your presentation arsenal.
At the end of last year’s stillwater season my old (18 years? I think) Buck’s Bags, South Fork pontoon boat wore out (valves and fabric on the pontoons). I could have fixed this stuff, and I still may, but that old pontoon boat was heavy. When I was younger I could move it around with ease. Now, years later with shoulder/neck/hand surgeries, and a fully fused right wrist the old South Fork was too heavy.
That was hard to admit. It suggests the obvious. I don’t like to dwell in the house of “Damn, I’m getting old” for more than a few seconds. So, I researched the new pontoons out there and sprung for the new version of the South Fork. It came in the mail, boxed and I put it together last Fall….then anticipated all Winter taking out the newer, lighter version.
The New South Fork loaded on the rig....anticipation high.
So, the lesson here is probably obvious, but in all my anticipation of fishing, I looked past some subtle differences that only come out in the actual use of the new toy. The pontoon boat is lighter and much easier for me to lift up onto and off the truck. If I went with the oars it came with rather than the heavier, longer ones I use, it would be even lighter.
But, a few things became apparent as I deployed the craft: I had attached the gear bags or cargo pouches on the pontoon that are not standard issue. I bought these years ago because the standard issue pouches were too small for all I like to carry out on the water: water bottle, too many fly boxes, extra clothing, food, whatever I feel the need to stash in my non-minimalist mode. Those cargo pouches when affixed toward the front of the pontoon were in the way of the oars. So, I moved them to the rear. And, in doing so, I moved them into a position that, after awhile, is annoyingly too far back causing one to twist, turn and reach in an uncomfortable position while the rod/reel are left in an always dangerous position on (or ideally behind) the apron. Very uncomfortable and not functional in rough waters and while trussed up in all the heavy clothing of a ‘shit, its freezing out here’ day.
So, the prospect of using the lower profile cargo pouches presents itself and the limitations that go with that. I will have to weigh the awkwardness/large capacity vs. the closer to the front, minimalist (little room for all the gear I carry) equation. The change needs to be made though.
More annoying and more problematic is the apron (the black mesh that stretches across ones lap). It is taut at the front, but at the rear it is sagging and too low. This is critical for me because when I set the rod down it must be anchored in some fashion. Do not set your rod down with the reel on top of the apron. It will go over the front, especially if you are actively fishing. I anchor the rod by setting the reel down in behind the apron. The rear edge of the apron fits up in between the bottom of the rod and the front of the reel. Now, there is no tension at the rear of the apron and the rod sets there too lose for my tastes. So, I need to figure out how to tighten up the rear of the apron given the configuration of the frame, cargo pouches and straps. Doable? I think so, I’m just not happy with the set up. I could resort to some tether I suppose.
The back, taut edge of the apron is wedged into that slot between the reel foot and the reel housing providing tension and less likelihood the rod/reel will fall off the front of the apron while you re-rig, perhaps kick/row and troll, or reach for something (something out of a cargo pouch or pull up the anchor at the rear).
So, I raise this as a reminder to not assume the newer will work like the older. Adjustments of the gear and the mind need to happen. I imagine it is like today with a new computer or cell phone, initially it is like ‘what the hell?’ and a month later you have adapted and can’t quite remember how the old one worked. What was all the fuss about? Right? Yes. One just gets use to that fishing station out on the lakes and comes to feel quite efficient in it, even after long breaks in between it is comfortable and does not intrude in the experience.
I will adapt and look forward to the next time on the lakes. In the meantime, I have some rearranging to do.
East Lake (Oregon) One of my all time favorite lakes. Carrying a lot of surface ice in this picture, but the memories and anticipation to work this lake again linger through the Winter.
Fly fishing has so many possibilities. One of my favorite is figuring out a lake, pond, reservoir. Your observation skills are required on a lake as much as they are standing knee deep in a stream. Presentation on a lake is as important as on a stream.
I frequently see lake fly fishers in their pontoon, float tube, raft etc. moving along, line extended behind and rhythmically kicking, drifting or rowing with only the slightest consideration given to a retrieve or to their position. We all do this at times while searching/discovering a new body of water. But, I would suggest that if you are out over 50′ of water with no discernible hatch/feeding activity you would be better served to move in toward the shoreline and attempt to study the contours of the lake. This may show you the structure and feeding zones where fish congregate for safety and food.
The drop is that area that transitions from somewhat shallow waters of say 10′ downward to deeper water. This drop off is prime in searching for trout that move up on the shoal to feed and move back off the shoal for safety and food as well. At a minimum work parallel to this drop and present your fly up on the shoal if hatch/feeding activity is apparent or work the fly down into the drop off area and slightly deeper.
Anchoring and fishing toward the drop (toward the shoreline) or up on the shoal can be productive. If you are not anchored, the wind or the torque of your casting can push you back out of the productive waters. This results in a lot of kicking or rowing to hold position and disturbances that may put the fish off the bite.
Sometimes the insect that is emerging, say Damsels or Gray Drakes, are actually moving toward shore to stage for their ‘hatch’. You would want to position yourself on the shore or in close to shore and cast out away from shore then slowly work your Damsel or swimming Mayfly pattern back toward shore to mimic the Damsels moving just below the surface toward the shoreline reeds, weeds and structure.
I have occassionally highlighted the well known Brian Chan. His knowledge is apparent, but I have an added touch to this: several times I have reached out to Brian and without hesitation he has provided precise information about how certain stillwater insects act subsurface and how the trout act early in the year. He did not know me from Earl….but, he graciously helped. A true gentleman.
Here I offer up some stillwater insect info from Brian Chan’s site Rise Form Ventures . There is a very good, basic over view of stillwater insects.
I like this picture. I took it outside wth the sunlight upon a suggestion by Tim Barker (Planet Trout)
I have highlighted this wonderful lake pattern before. It is easy to tie and very productive in brown or olive green. I have tied it as I first encountered it (Jim Cope via NWFFO) , on a Tiemco 200R hook. A down eye hook could be used. It is a slender pattern, with the head/eyes barely thicker than the body.
The tail is pheasant tail fibers tied into and no longer than the length of the abdomen. A body (abdomen) of dubbed hare’s mask, kept very slender. A ribbing of Silver Krystal Flash is wound up through the dubbing toward the plastic dumbbell eyes. The wingcase was tied in first with the tips extending out over the eye. I plan this so that when the tips are pulled back over the top of the eyes/thorax, they extend only half way back to mid shank and no further. Keep the head slender and dub around the plastic eyes. Once the pheasant tail fibers are secured with thread wraps behind the eyes, cut the top pheasant tail fibers to form blunt ends. I have also tied this wing case as a combination of pheasant tail fibers for the legs and paint brush bristles for the wingcase.
Mix the colors between brown, tan, light to dark green. Swim it toward shore or at least parallel in shallower depths.
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be
satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”