Posts Tagged ‘dragon fly nymph


Fly Tying & Fishing: Short, stubby, ‘skimmer’ Dragon

"Skimmer" Libellulinae (Libellulidae) Dragon Nymph

I won’t overload you with Bug terminology. I would only be borrowing from more accomplished researchers. You can find plenty of excellent work by Rick Hafele, Arlen Thomason,……. You do the research on the several varieties and shapes of dragon fly nymphs in the (Anisoptera > Aeshnidae (darners) > Libellulidae (sprawlers)) world. 

Many fly fishing dragon patterns will be longer, size 6-8 patters (more the darner variety). But there is a place for the smaller size 10-12, shorter and rounder patterns that slowly move about the bottom in the vegetation and muck and only rarely jet forward. A slow and low presentation is appropriate for stillwaters and quite backwaters of streams (some varieties of Dragons do inhabit slow moving stretches of rivers). 

The above pattern was tied on a size 10, 2xl nymph hook. I dubbed and spun marabou fibers stripped from the stem. Once the density is developed for each color then the marabou is trimmed to shape the bulbous rear, tapering toward the front. At the front of the abdomen, I dubbed in some deer hair and then wound the hen hackle. The head is comprised of red dumbbell eyes (melted red Amnesia mono for eyes) the wingcase is a small piece of fuzzy foam tied in at the front the eyes. The head is dubbed to form a nice round head. Then the fuzzy foam wing case is pulled over the top of the head and tied off to form a slight gap between head/thorax and the abdomen.

The presentation of the dragon fly nymph along the edges and drops of a lake should be more thoughtful than kicking along in a tube trolling a Woolly Bugger or Dragon nymph imitation. This is the primary reason you should study how insects move in their world. Study the predatory ways and movements of insects and then attempt to visualize this and match this with retrieves and assorted fly line densities. Most often dragons will crawl up vegetation, rocks and debris to emerge above the water. Some are poor climbers (squatty little gomphids) and crawl into shore.

This isn’t like trying to match the Stonefly hatches where you fish nymphs and then post emergence, fish dries. Dragon fly dries are seldom used. You want to focus on where dragon fly nymphs reside and then go there and present hunting nymphs and nymphs working toward structure to emerge.  


Fly Tying: Large Sedge Pattern

I will be the first to admit I don’t have all the species of the Caddis memorized nor can I readily identify them. I study up on the waters I am intending to fish and attempt to match color and size of the pupa and adults. Previously, I have tied up some large pupa for the Caddis Sedge patterns. I tied them with the buggy eyes so that they could also, possibly, suggest the long bodied dragon fly nymph for a stillwater presentation, but added the swept under wings/legs or the emerging caddis. I did not add any antennae.

The hook is a size 8, straight eye hook, the thread was 6/0 black. The eyes are black, plastic dumbbell shaped and tied in on top of the shank due to their lack of weight. The ribbing is gold/silver tinsel with the gold side out. The body (abdomen) is brown rug yarn wrapped and then ribbed with the tinsel. The underwing/legs is tied in beneath the abdomen and is a section of turkey feather with dark deer hair swept back. The thorax is a blend of brown and dark olive dubbing wrapped forward and around the plastic eyes.

Arctopsyche grandis Caddis Pupa (McKenzie R. Caddis)


Stillwater Box SwittersB


Fly Tying: Dragon Fly Nymphs (Stillwater)

I have had great success with a dragon fly nymph while fishing lakes. I have previously mentioned the Fuzzy Dragon, Kaufmann’s Dragon Fly Nymph and the Doll’s Hair Nymph. I have had, equal or superior success on a lake with a dragon fly nymph as with a Woolly Bugger.

So, I noted recently that I am down on my inventory of the little bug eyed gems. So, tonight I am going to tie up a dozen Dragon nymphs and more this weekend. The pattern below is fairly easy to tie with a few sticking points if you crowd the eye of the hook. I picked a blend or earth tones for the patterns, excepting the contrasting ribbing materials. Click on each pic several times to enlarge for details (it’s ok, I can handle the scrutiny and criticism).

Hook: TMC 5263, Size 6

Tail: 2 plumes of grizzly Hoffman Chickaboo, tied bushy and short

Eyes: Plastic Dumbbell eyes tied in with figure 8 wraps to stabilize eyes on top of shank

Weight: Optional. I tie some with lead/titanium and some without. It should get  down to the bottom

Thread: 6/0 black

Body Material: Dark Brown Fuzzy Mohair yarn, wrapped up the shank and around the eyes

Wing Case: In one I tried Turkey feather and in the others bunched dark brown CDC

Ribbing: I experimented with red, tan and copper wire

Hackle: Dark green barred hackle wrapped in around thorax behind eyes

Dragon Fly Nymph Materials (SwittersB)

Red Ribbed Dragon Fly Nymph (SwittersB)

Copper Ribbed Dragon Fly Nymph (SwittersB)

Tan Ribbed Dragon Fly Nymph (SwittersB)

Nothing too fancy here. I enjoy the big eyes and stout body. I search for areas on the lake with the structure of weed lines (edges of weed beds), lily pads and grass lines. Cast the fly in with the appropriate line (sink rate=depth being most frequently fished). I most often use the Intermediate line. The dragon fly nymph is a predator. It stalks, darts, grabs, consumes. I don’t just kick about trolling. Visualize the fly down there and manipulate the fly as if it is a predator. Scuff up the bottom, dart about (short bursts, don’t go crazy) and let it lay. The hits are often sharp and certain. Study the habits and motions of the insects you emulate.


Fly Tying: Dragon Fly Nymph

Dragon Fly Nymph ~ SwittersB

Dragon Fly Nymphs & Fly Fishing

This dragon fly nymph pattern is tied on a size 6 hook. The plastic eyes (pick your color) were tied in on top of the shank with figure 8 thread wraps. The abdomen of the fly is created by selecting olive green and rusty brown marabou plumes. Each plume is tied in by the tip. The plume is wrapped or palmered up the shank in tight turns. The colors are alternated. The abdomen was created with 3 olive and 3 brown plumes. Once the palmering is completed the abdomen is shaped with sharp scissors or a razor blade. Here I used scissors. The intent is to shape a football like body. It looked pretty good to the naked eye. My nemesis, the macro lens, shows a more ragged shaping. I think my palmering was not closely spaced enough.

Next, I tied a dark brown, hen hackle collar. A wingcase was created from 5-10 strands of Rootbeer Krystal Flash. The strands are tied in with the tag ends toward the rear extending back a quarter inch. The wingcase is positioned back, out of the way, and a thorax is dubbed with dark olive rabbit fur (with guard hairs) around the eyes up to the hook eye. The wingcase is then pulled over the top of the thorax and then tied down. Trim off the excess and create a thread head.

Another method, that I have experimented with, is inserting marabou into a dubbing loop and spinning a loose noodle of marabou (don’t do it too tightly). These dubbing noodles are tightly wrapped also. The body is again shaped. I have not experimented with it enough on smaller flies.

TroutNut Bug Info re the Dragon Fly


Dragon Nymph (Don Robert’s Doll’s Hair)

Dragon Nymph~G. Muncy

Dragon Nymph~G. Muncy


‘Lake Bait’ Stillwater Pattern (Where to put the red barbs?)

Lake Bait (Red Barbs tied in on sides for visibility)

Lake Bait (Red Barbs tied in on sides for visibility)

Lake Bait Soft Hackle (FlyfishUSA)  
Lake Bait Soft Hackle (FlyfishUSA)   
I was recently fishing an Oregon lake and met a lady flyfisher that loaned my son, Tony, a fly because he had been generous with his ‘secret info’ The fly was spectacularly productive. The fly we had and eventually lost, had the elements of a Carey Special with a fluff tail of chickaboo or clump of aftershaft plumes. The wrapped pheasant rump feathers is the same and only the addition of a clump of red barbs on top of the thorax. The red barbs glowed when the fly was wet. I wondered if the red fibers might be better positioned on the sides as opposed to only the top. I am going to also experiment with hot orange barbs and hot green barbs too. Check out the FlyfishUSA site and you will notice this fly is like an afterthought with no origin info for the fly, just the pic. The fly is showcased with Carey Special variations. This fly, I must reiterate, was exceptional. It was better than any Carey I have fished. I believe the Chickabou tail and particularly the red or orange hackle barbs give additional life and exciter qualities to the pattern. The fly was very productive while Dragon flies were heavily present.       
Lake Bait (Wet side view of red barbs top/bottom visibility)

Lake Bait (Wet side view of red barbs top/lateral visibility)

Lake Bait (Wet rear view of red barbs visibility top/bottom)

Lake Bait (Wet rear view of red barbs visibility top/lateral)

The above link is a post re green or red lateral barbs. A few photos to compare.

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