Damselfly Nymph: Everything You Need To Know To Catch More Fish

by Darby @ Fly Fish And Camp | Last Updated: June 23, 2020

Damselfly nymphs are of the Odonata family, which includes Dragonflies and Damselflies.  Damselfly Nymphs is the first stage of their life hood.  It is here where they are aquatic predators of other aquatic insects, and also prey to Trout at the same time.  As a result, many fly anglers use Damselfly Nymphs flies to collect a large bounty of fish while fly fishing.

Using the Damselfly Nymph for fly fishing

A lot of fly anglers will tell you that the Damselfly Nymph is a fly that will catch you a lot of trout.  Damselfly Nymphs (or larvae) spend most of their hours in the water, hence being aquatic insects.  Trout will eat nearly any living creature in the water, (even mice), so it’s no surprise that Damselfly Nymphs are a popular source of food for the trout.

Damselfly Nymphs are in or around the water for most of the year.  They won’t venture out of the water until they have turned into full fledged adults.

However, because they spend so much time in the water, they are apt to get eaten by trout.  As a result, A local fishing blog wrote that “Damselflies have learnt that the best way to prevent getting eaten by trout is to head for the weeds.”  Damselfly Nymphs aren’t limited to the weeds though.  They catch a lot of their prey on other rocks and areas with aquatic plants.  Their main source of food comes from lying in wait of other insects, and then eating them as they go by.

This is important, because where the food goes, the fish will follow.

When the water heats up, the nymphs will turn into adults.  This is important, because this is when most of the Damselflies get eaten.  In the process of leaving the water, they have to swim to the top.  Trout will then snag the Damselflies on their way up to the top of the water.

So using that information, how do you actually catch trout with a Damselfly Nymph?

Find yourself a patch of water with weedy or plant filled bottoms.  If there are rocks in the area, so much the better.  The fish will follow the food, so there is a high likelihood that there will be trout in these areas, ready to snack on some Damselflies.

When you are using the Damselfly Nymph on your line, after the cast – allow it sink a ways down.  Damselflies catch prey on the bottom of the lake, but when they turn into adults, swim to the top.  If you can simulate the Damselfly Nymph living on the bottom of the water, and then moving up to the top – you have a great chance of fooling a trout into biting.

It simulates a Damselfly that is trying to escape to the top.  Bam.  Fish on.

This a picture of a Damselfly Nymph.

Damselfly Nymph


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Information surrounding the Damselfly Nymph and Adult

Damselflies have elongated bodies with long tails.  They have very large eyes in proportion to their bodies, and have 6 legs.  For most of their life however, they are nymphs in the water.  When the water is at it’s warmest, you will find the most adult Damselflies in the water.

Female Damselfly Nymphs also fly near the top of the water to drop eggs, and trout will occasionally jump out of the water and eat them during these times.  I personally have never seen this happen, but it would be very cool to!

When the female Damselfly drops those eggs into the water, this is when the process of becoming a full fledged Damselfly starts, as a nymph.  For the next several years, these nymphs won’t leave the water, surviving only on insects that are smaller than themselves.

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How to tie a Damselfly Nymph

A lot of fly fisherman enjoy tying their flies, as it’s a lot cheaper with the expense of your time.  Many find it enjoyable, but I personally stick to buying flies, as I rarely have the time.

This video goes over how to tie a Damselfly Nymph very well.

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Damselfly Nymphs Conclusion

Damselfly Nymphs are a great choice to use when looking for Summer trout bait. (Or whenever, really).  These aquatic insects spend a lot of their time on the bottom of the water, in patches of weeds, or other plants.  It you are fishing a rocky area, so much the better.

Trout like any fish, will follow the food.

The best way to catch a trout on the Damselfly Nymph is to simulate how the Damselflies leave the water, by scurrying up to the top and out.  This is where the trout will snatch them up, as they try to escape.

The process of becoming a full fledged adult, Damselfly starts when a female Damselfly, flies over the top of the water and drops her eggs.  Depending on the Damselfly, they might spend the next 5 years of their life in the water, eating other insects and avoiding getting eaten by trout.

These nymph flies are some of the most popular trout fishing flies, because they produce great results on the water.  I would recommend picking a couple up, especially when the water turns warmer.