The Wiggle Damsel is a pattern I came up with about fifteen years ago at the request of my good friend, Marty Cecil. Marty is the manager of Colorado’s Elktrout Lodge. Elktrout has several spring-fed ponds that are home to awesome damsel hatches and Marty needed a pattern with a little more wiggle to it. I played with several different ideas and finally settled on this version, as it is very easy to tie and seems to hold up pretty well too. The jointed body allows the abdomen to swing from side to side on the retrieve and elevates when the heavy bead chain eyes pull the front of the fly down. I have also tied this fly with mono eyes, and they work well too, especially over weedbeds where the standard bead eyes are just a bit too heavy and cause the fly to dive into the weeds.
I like to fish this fly on a long leader and sight cast it to fish cruising the banks looking for the emerging damsels. Their reactions have proven this pattern has the right stuff. I mean, when they light up and rush the fly, you know you’ve done something right!
Hook: TMC 101 #14 or 16 for the abdomen/extended portion, TMC 3761 #14 or 16 for the front end. The sizes should match front and back, whichever size you choose.
Thread: Olive UNI 6/0 or 70 denier
Body: Olive Marabou
Extension attachment/loop: 3X Monofilament
Eyes: Small or extra-small brass bead chain, OR small mono nymph eyes.
Attach the thread to the TMC 101 and wrap a thread base from the eye to the bend.
Select six or eight bushy strands of marabou and strip them from the quill.
Pinch the tips off the marabou to even them up into a short little brush. Measure these tips against the hook shank so they are equal to one half a shank length.
Tie the marabou strands in at the bend of the hook with two tight wraps of thread, one right on top of the other.
Lift the remaining butt ends of the marabou up and out of the way while you move the thread back to the front of the hook with spiraling turns.
Stop the thread right at the eye of the hook.
Begin wrapping the marabou strands around the hook traveling forward like you would when tying a pheasant tail nymph.
Continue wrapping the marabou in smooth even turns to the eye of the hook and tie them off with a couple more tight wraps of thread.
Whip finish and clip the thread.
Use a pair of wire cutters to trim the bend off of the hook. Don’t leave any bend, just trim the wire flush against the back end of the marabou body, under the tail. Place this portion of the fly off to the side for the time being.
Put the TMC 3761 in the vise and wrap a thread base from the eye back to the bend of the hook.
Loop a piece of 3X Fluorocarbon tippet material through the eye of the extended body portion of the fly. A couple inches of tippet is plenty here.
Tie the ends of the mono loop to the shank of the front hook and wrap over the mono from the bend to about three eye lengths back from the hook eye. Trim the excess mono from the front of the fly at this point.
Detail of the mono loop at the rear of the fly. This loop should be pretty short, as a longer loop will promote the tail section to foul (wrap around the bend of the front hook) when casting.
Move the thread forward to about an eye length or two back from the hook eye and tie in a pair of bead chain eyes with figure eight or X-wraps. Secure the eyes in place and go on to the next step.
Move the tying thread back to the bend of the hook. Peel another small clump of marabou fibers from the stem and pinch the tips off like you did for the tail. Measure these tips against the shank so they are equal to about half a shank length as shown.
Tie the measured tips in at the bend of the hook exactly as you did on the rear hook. Put two tight turns over the marabou, one right on top of the other. The tips should extend back to the front of the rear hook. This tail on the front hook will cover the joint between the body sections.
Lift the butt ends of the marabou out of the way and bring the thread forward to the hook eye.
Wrap the marabou from the bend of the hook forward to the back of the bead chain eyes.
Move the marabou to the front of the eyes by crossing under them.
Tie the marabou off with a couple tight turns of thread right at the hook eye.
Cross the thread between the eyes on the top of the hook and bring it around the hook just behind the eyes.
The thread should be just behind the eyes right now, as shown here.
Pull the remaining stub ends of the marabou back over the top of the eyes, forming the wingcase.
Tie the marabou wingcase down right behind the eyes with a few more tight turns of thread.
Pull the long ends of the marabou wingcase forward again and trim them off just in front of the hook eye. This will leave a short stub of marabou to wiggle about.
Whip finish the thread over the marabou tie down behind the bead eyes and clip the thread. It helps to wet the marabou a bit to hold it out of the way while you whip.
Finished fly, side view.