Fly Of The Week
Twisted Damsel
Twisted Damsel
Larry Tullis
Photos by the Author

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Fly Tying Terms

Twisted Damsel

The Twisted Damsel is one of the patterns I developed for exploring the great trout stillwaters of the Rockies. If you want a bigger-than-normal trout, you may want to try a trout lake rather than a river. Lake fish commonly grow larger and faster than their stream cousins and damselfly nymphs are one of their favorite foods. This pattern can imitate damselfly nymphs but will also be taken for midge larvae, baby dragonflies and even scuds.

The combination of two colors of marabou twisted together with the thread make a better simulation than a solid color and is much more durable. This method can be used for other delicate materials like peacock herl. Use the natural tapers of the longest marabou fibers to your advantage by tying them in tip first. This creates a soft, flowing, tapered, natural chenille. Many color variations are possible. Try a black pearl glass bead head, plastic bead eye, a Swiss Straw wingcase, Mylar ribbing, wire ribbing, a peacock herl head, olive Angora goat for legs or a full soft hackle.


Hook:  1X or 2X-long hymph hook, sizes 14 to 8.

Bead-head:  Optional: 1/8 inch gold metal or black glass bead.

Thread:  Olive 3/0.

Tail:  Light olive marabou with Krystal Flash.

Body:  Light olive and brown marabou.

Wingcase:  Optional: light olive marabou.

Legs:  Dyed olive, barred partridge fibers.

Collar:  Olive marabou.

Tying Steps:

1. Thread metal or glass bead over hook point and to hook eye. Some hooks won't allow beads to be threaded on, especially if the barb is large. Bending the barb down often helps. Place hook in vise. Start thread just behind the bead and put a base of thread on hook shank.

2. Tie in a sparse tail of very soft olive marabout about 1/2 to 3/4 inch long. Tie in two strands of Krystal Flash on top of the tail.

3. Select light olive and brown marabou that has very long strands. Remove 1/4 inch of each color and combine together so tips are even. Tie in marabou by the tips to the very end of the body. Leave thread there, don't wind forward.

4. Bring the marabou around the back of the hook and combine it with the thread. Twist the marabou colors and the thread into one naturally-tapered strand of chenille. Fluff it out a bit.

5. Wrap the strand forward evenly, covering the wraps underneath. When you get near the bead head, unwrap the marabou butt ends from the thread and secure the marabou with the thread. Trim excess marabou. If you want a wingcase, add that now by tying a short, soft fluff of marabou.

6. Tie in the dyed olive barred partridge fibers. Put a half dozen fibers on each side and leave them long.

7. Tie in a small clump of darker olive marabou by the tips and twist it just like you did the body or tie in a peacock herl collar. Secure the ends and trim the excess.

8. Tie the fly off behind the bead head using the usual half-hitches or whip finish and head cement. If desired, you can use small dots of black T-shirt paint on the bead head to simulate the eyes of the damselfly nymph.

Fishing the Twisted Damsel:

The float tube angler cast 35 feet out into the lake. The damselfly nymph and type I sinking fly line sunk slowly along the deep side of a weed edge. After counting to 20 the angler began a slow, twitching retrieve with occasional pauses to mimic the naturals. The line gave a sudden pulse of life that shattered the serenity and kicked in the adrenaline. The hooked trout tore out into open water and jumped several times, again disturbing the tranquil scene. After several more head-shakes and short runs the six-pound rainbow succumbed and was carefully raised for a quick photo before release. ~ Larry Tullis

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

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