Anglers, if you want to try your hand at fishing damsel nymph patterns, now is the time to get to Crowley! We have thousands of damsels coming off and the fish are really cashing in on the damsel fish food factory that Crowley has to offer!  Dust off the float tubes or any fishing platform you own and head out to the lake! You will see literally hundreds of fish aggressively attacking the damsel nymphs from early morning to last light!

The fish are agressiveley attacking the damsels right up against the weed lines.   In the photo you can see that the weed beds have become large matted platforms for the damsels to climb out on and become adults.   Even though the water depth outside the weed lines are 14 feet, you will still want to fish the upper water column, no more than three feet deep.  The fish are cruising the weed lines and having a field day, dinning on these little tasty treats.

Now is the time to bring all of your favorite damsel nymph patterns. Fish them with a floating line with a 15 foot leader (I prefer straight 3x or 2x) if you can get away with it and super slow retrieves, sometimes even not retrieving at all but allowing the damsel pattern to just hang in the high water column and move with the side current. I cast sideways into the wind and allow for the leader to slowly sweep until it is completely down wind and start a very, very slow retrieve back towards the weedline!

The most important part of this style of fishing is that you must us a slip strike and be very supple with your hands because the takes are so aggressive, the fish will break 3x and 2x right off in your hands if you lift the rod to quickly and get too tight! I like longer rods, 10ft rods that have a very soft tip to help with these aggressive strikes the fish will give you on the damsel patterns.

The damsels are a very olive/brown color and are of course, slender like a pencil lead. Try to fish patterns that are extremely slim, the smallest pinch of long marabou will work wonders in imitating the swimming motion that the damsels produce in the water. I have some nice producing damsel patterns, but I have asked my good friend and Master Stillwater angler, Doug Ouellette for some of his world famous damsels patterns and will be trying them out this coming trip to Crowley. I have learned a lot of great techniques and unique little nuances from Doug in the past that he has mastered and have used them to make me a much more rounded and productive stillwater fisherman. I highly suggest if you would like to talk to Doug or be guided by him in the stillwaters of Northern California, you will not find a better guide with a better understanding and pair of hands than Doug Ouellette.

If you are not comfortable or not having success with a floating line, a hover line and a true intermediate line that sinks at 1.5″ per second can work also but will not allow you to use the hang method of just letting the patterns just sit in the hight water column.

Another way to fish the damsel is to hang your patterns about three feet under an indicator, I prefer a clear indicator and then fish you midges or chironomids a foot off the bottom down the length of the leader system. This is a perfect technique at Crowley that produces big numbers of fish and many very large 20+” specimens.

I will be targeting some more of these big beautiful trout at Crowley this weekend, after my guide trips and looking forward to using some of Stillwater Guru Doug Ouellette’s famous damsel patterns. I hope I can have half the success he has fishing damsels at all of the stillwaters he fishes, including the stellar days he has at Davis Lake.


Look forward to seeing you out on the water soon!


I do love me some “Stillwater” fly fishing…..Ernie