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Fly Tying: Simple Foam Damsel Fly

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I am an avid fisherman and hunter from the great state of Texas.

Foam Damsel Fly (with Barbed Legs)

Foam Damsel Fly (with Barbed Legs)

A Simple but Effective Pattern

Like the Foam Rubber Grasshopper, the Foam Damsel Fly is another simple but effective fishing fly pattern. It uses minimal material, can be tied quickly, and is ready to fish as soon as the nail polish is dry!

It is fished dry and most effective in the spring and summer evenings when dragonflies and damselflies are flying (more like hovering) near the water's surface, every so often landing on the water and floating motionless.

To keep things simple, rubber legs (Sili Legs) are used in lieu of feathers to simulate the Damsel Fly's wings. For the underbody, one or two strands of Peacock Herl are used in lieu of dubbing and/or feather hackles.

Do give this fishing fly a try when you get a chance!

Note on Waterlogged Fly

The fishing fly will get slightly waterlogged as you fish it. Applying Dry Fly Floatant will allow you to fish it dry again; however, it is strongly suggested to keep fishing it waterlogged.

When waterlogged, the fishing fly typically sinks just under the water's surface enticing fish to strike more often at times!

Fly Materials

The following is the material list for the Foam Damsel Fly:

  1. Size 12–16 Streamer Hook
  2. Peacock Herl (1 or 2 Strands)
  3. Colored Foam (2mm thick)
  4. White Sili Legs or Barbed Sili Legs
  5. Dacron Tying Thread 6/0 (Olive or Black)
  6. Super Glue or Zap-A-Gap
  7. Tough As Nails Fingernail Polish or other Clear Fingernail Polish
  8. Foam Cutter or Scissors

Step 1: Body

First, prepare the fishing fly's body by shaping the foam as follows:

  • Cut the foam using a Damsel Fly Foam Cutter in size small.
  • If you do not have a foam cutter, then use scissors to cut a shape using the pattern in the pictures in the sidebar.
  • Copy the picture in the sidebar, and then re-size it so it measures 1½" in length when printed.
  • Cut out the shape, transfer it to the foam, and then cut out the body.

Step 2: Thread Base and Herl Underbody

In Step 2, build the thread base, attach the Peacock Herl, and then build the Herl Underbody as follows:

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  • Begin wrapping a thread base as you would normally do when tying a fishing fly.
  • And then, attach the Peacock Herl starting just behind the hook eye.
  • Once it is secured, continue to wrap the thread along the hook shank, stopping adjacent to the hook point.
  • Next, wrap the Peacock Herl to build the underbody, and secure it with the tying thread adjacent to the hook point.
  • See the sidebar photos for reference. Also, two Peacock Herl strands can be used to build a bulkier underbody.
Foam body set on top of the hook with several thread wraps.

Foam body set on top of the hook with several thread wraps.

Another view of the foam body being secured to the hook shank.

Another view of the foam body being secured to the hook shank.

Re-position the tying thread so it rests about a hook eye length behind the hook eye.

Re-position the tying thread so it rests about a hook eye length behind the hook eye.

Step 3: Attaching the Body

In Step 3, the foam body will be attached to the hook, and the Damsel Fly's tail formed as follows:

  • Place the foam body on top of the hook and attach the foam where the herl was last secured to the hook using a couple of wraps.
  • Next, check to ensure the foam is resting on top of the hook. Adjust if needed.
  • And then, wrap the thread two more times while slowly tightening the wrap.
  • Be careful not to over-tighten the thread, or else the foam body may twist on you. If it does, re-position it and then apply additional wraps to hold it in place.
  • Then, apply Super Glue (or Zap-A-Gap) on the thread wraps and where the Foam and Herl touch. Doing so will help secure the foam to the hook and prevent the body from twisting when fished.
  • Wait a few minutes to ensure the glue dries sufficiently. Once dry, re-position the thread so it rests a hook eye length behind the hook eye.
  • Finally, proceed to the next step; see the sidebar photo for reference.
Head formed... remember not to over tighten.

Head formed... remember not to over tighten.

Step 4: Forming the Head

This step is where the Damsel Fly's head is formed. Do so as follows:

  • Hold down the foam so it lays flat on top of the hook.
  • Then, form the head by starting a loose wrap where you stopped wrapping the thread in the previous step. It should be a hook eye length behind the hook eye.
  • Next, wrap the thread several more turns, slowly tightening as you do. See the sidebar photo for reference.
  • Note: If eyes are desired, a Sharpie or similar permanent ink pen can be used to "dot" eyes on the Damsel Fly's head. However, this is optional and does not detract from its fish catching ability.
Legs are in place; almost time to go fishing!

Legs are in place; almost time to go fishing!

Step 5: Attaching the Legs

In Step 5, legs will be attached where the Damsel Fly's head was secured to the hook:

  • Take one Sili Leg strand, fold it in half, and cut it at the fold. This will result in a pair of Sili Legs.
  • Taking one of the Sili Legs, tie it to one side of the body. Adjust the leg so the front and back legs are close to even.
  • Do the same with the other leg, tying it on the other side of the body.
  • Adjust the legs' position on the foam body so both legs tend to the top of the body. See sidebar photo for reference.
  • Once the legs are in place and no more adjustments are needed, secure the legs in place with three additional wraps, and then use a whip finish knot where the head and legs are tied.
  • Cut off the thread, and proceed to Step 6.
Simple Foam Damsel Fly!

Simple Foam Damsel Fly!

Step 6: Trim the Legs and Final Finish

In the final step, the Damsel Fly's legs are trimmed and final finishes are applied:

  • Take hold of the legs and pull upward.
  • Then, trim the legs so they are even with one another. Both the front and back legs should be equal in length.
  • Next, apply Super Glue (or Zap-A-Gap) to the thread wraps. Allow the glue to dry
  • Once the glue is dry, apply a coat of nail polish to the top of the foam body. Allow the nail polish to dry.
  • Once dry, the Foam Damsel Fly is ready to fish!
Foam Damsel Flies

Foam Damsel Flies

More Fly Tying Suggestions

When fishing the Foam Damsel Fly, here are a few suggestions from the COAF Field Team!

  • After casting the Damsel Fly, let the fishing fly sit undisturbed. As a general rule, don't retrieve it until you see the rings that formed when the fishing fly landed on the water dissipate.
  • When retrieving the fishing fly, use short pulls on the fly line to simulate a damselfly (or dragonfly) resting on the surface that every so often "twitters" about as insects do. Pause for a 5–10 count delay, and then retrieve again.
  • If Bass is actively chasing baitfish, then try using long pulls on the fly line and forego the pause. Oftentimes, you will see the Bass trailing behind the fishing fly! In a pinch the Damsel Fly simulates a small minnow making its escape.
  • When Bluegill has started to spawn and is protecting their beds, be prepared for sudden strikes so you can set the hook in time.
  • Eventually, the Damsel Fly becomes waterlogged and will begin to sink instead of float. When this happens, you can apply Dry Fly Floatant. Better yet, continue to fish it waterlogged. The fishing fly sinks, stopping an inch or two below the water's surface, making for a more enticing option for the fish!
  • Do try the Foam Damsel Fly anytime you see Damsel Flies and Dragonflies flying about and fish feeding on them. However, in our area, Bass and Bluegill tend to strike the fishing fly in the late afternoon and early evening during the warmer months!

Check out the videos below from the Team! The first one resulted in 18 Bass and 10 Bluegill being caught and released! The second video shows two Bass taking the Foam Damsel Fly! Good Luck and Good Fishing!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


hbng84 (author) on May 01, 2014:

Added another video; see it in the "May 1, 2014" section above. Foam Damsel Fly has been producing in our area!

hbng84 (author) on April 30, 2014:

PS: Added a video in the "April 30,2014" section above, showing fish being caught with a Foam Damsel Fly! Fun stuff!

hbng84 (author) on April 30, 2014:

Thanks flyfishmaine! The pattern has been working well here for us!

Richard Scott from Presque Isle, Maine on April 30, 2014:

Excellent written instructions. I just finished tying my first foam damsel. It doesn't look quite like yours but practice makes perfect. Thanks.

hbng84 (author) on April 30, 2014:

Thanks Ann1Az2!

Ann1Az2 from Orange, Texas on April 30, 2014:

What a cool use for foam! When you post these articles on making flies, it almost makes me want to go fresh water fishing again even though I live on the Gulf! lol Great article.

hbng84 (author) on April 29, 2014:

Do check out the latest Fly Tying article. This one is a simple fishing fly that uses 2mm foam, peacock herl, sili legs, and a hook! Worked well yesterday... caught and released 18 Bass and 10 Bluegill with it. Included a video clip in the article!

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