Fly Of The Week

Previous Flies
Fly Tying Terms

Convict Damsel Nymph
Illustrated Recipe by Moose Peterson

The Damsel Marabou Nymph is a popular fly in the Eastern Sierra used mainly in our many lakes. The first ones I tied were in the traditional pattern and while I got some action using them I thought I could do better. I thought maybe it was my presentation until one day I watched a real damsel nymph propel itself by my float tube. It looked "buggier" than my pattern and it pulsated up and down more than my retrieval was producing. The increased buggieness was easy, more marabou. The trick was my fly needed more weight to imitate that up and down pulsating motion with my retrievals but the body needs to remain slender which ruled out weighting the fly. I had been using plastic black eyes up until it dawned me to go with the Dazl-eyes for the extra weight. We're now having lots of fun catching Browns from our tubes with this variation of the Damsel Nymph! This fly tied on a size #10.

Materials List: Convict Damsel Nymph

    Hook: TMC 200R 10-18.

    Thread: Olive 6/0.

    Tail: Grizzly Marabou Olive.

    Body: Grizzly Marabou Olive.

    Rib: Gold Tinsel.

    Wing case: Peacock Herl.

    Eyes: 3/32 Dazl-eyes Black (w/eye polish).

1. The Convict Damsel Nymph starts with the traditional tie on of the thread. I tie on particularly tight because right where I tie on is where I attach the Dazl-eyes. The proportion of the eyes to the size of the fly I think is important so on sizes 10-12 which is the only sizes I tie, I use the 3/32 eyes. Attached the eyes with a figure eight tie and once attached, I put a drop of head cement on the figure eight. I give the eyes a little extra depth by using black finger nail polish and placing a drop on end of the eyes. I put on 3 coats. You can do this before you actually tie the eyes on but with their small size, I find it just as easy to paint them once they are attached to the hook.

2. Selecting the right marabou feather I think is important. I look for one that's not really "bushy" but has a narrow profile. The tip of the feather is going to be the tail and if the feather I have selected is not bushy enough for the tail, I will add an extra feather just to the tail.

3. Right at the attach point of the marabou, I tie in the gold tinsel. I prefer the flat tinsel. Once attached, wrap the thread up the shank approximately 2/3 of the length behind the hook eye.

4. Now comes the only tricky part of tying this fly. I twist the marabou, twisting it as tight as I can to get all the barbs into a single strand. You've got to be careful you don't twist too tight and break the shaft of the feather. With it being twisted, I start to wrap the feather around the hook. As I wrap, I keep on twisting making sure I gather in as many barb of the feather as I can. Once the wrap is to the thread, tie off the feather.

5. Wrap the tinsel up to the tie off point of the marabou. Take care as you wrap the tinsel to gather in still any loose barbs of marabou. Ideally we want as slender a body profile as we can produce. Tie off and trim.

6. Hard to see in all of that marabou, but tie in the Peacock Herl. I use 5-6 strands of herl to create a bulky wing case and our trout just seem to love Herl.

7. It's back to the marabou. Proceed to wrap up the rest of the hook shank with the marabou. The one difference is we don't need to twist the marabou, bushy is a good thing as we're now wanting to imitate legs. Tie off the marabou right behind the Dazl-eyes.

8. Bring the Peacock Herl forward and tie it down right behind the Dazly eyes. Smooth the marabou down the best you can on the top of the hook shank to make a bed for the herl. Wrap it down with just a couple of wraps and advance the thread to the front of the Dazl-eyes.

9. Bring the Herl over the Dazl-eyes and tie it off. Wrap the thread to form a head creating a classic head and tie off. ~ Moose

Photographic note:

Photos captured by D1H, 60f2.8AF micro with SB-29s flash on Lexar digital film.

About Moose:

Moose is a professional wildlife photographer, and obviously a fine fly tyer, who lives in Mammoth Lakes, CA. He has an extensive website to furnish wildlife photographers with information to make the most of their photographic pursuits. You will find it at:

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice