The Ultimate Thompson-Nicola Hatch Guide

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The Ultimate Thompson-Nicola Hatch Guide
- Dragonflies -
By Karl Bruhn

Order: Odonata, suborder Anisoptera
Aeschnidae and Gomphidae

Indentifying Features
Sometimes called the green darner or devil's darning needle, Aeschnidae nymphs have an hour-glass-shaped body between two and five-cm long. Green and brown are typical colors, but coloration is dependent on habitat. Its jet-propelled motion is achieved by taking in water through the rear gill chamber and quickly expelling it in a stream; it is capable of quick successive bursts of motion ranging between eight and 15 cm each. It dwells in dense weedy areas where it is a fierce predator capable of hunting down and capturing even small fish. Gomphidae nymphs are smaller, with a more oval, squat body, but have the same jet-propelled system of movement. They are not as active as the darners and prefer to remain buried in mud bottom or deep in weeds. They are ambush feeders. Light olive green, tan and brown are typical colors.

What to Look For
Like the damselflies, dragonflies crawl out of the water to complete their transformation to adults. Unlike damselflies, the shoreward migration is achieved by crawling along the bottom. Watch for them clinging to shoreside reeds or debris. Any sudden appearance of large numbers of adult dragons should send anglers searching the shoreline.

Life Cycle
Nymphs can take as long as three or four years to mature, evolving through a series of molts, or instars. When mature, the nymph crawls slowly shoreward along the bottom, seeking something to crawl out on. Once out of the water it waits to dry, its skin splits and the adult emerges. Adults remain among the reeds for some time, waiting for the final transformation to occur. Females return to the water after mating and deposit their eggs while flying low over the water. Emergence continues through the hot- weather months.

When to Fish
Dragonfly nymphs are a good searching pattern and can be fished as close to bottom as possible through the year. They are the patterns to turn to when there are no indications of any other activity. Aeschnidae patterns are better for general-purpose searching, but the squat Gomphidae imitations are valuable, especially over mud bottoms. Peak hatch activity starts in early July.

Dragonfly Nymph Contributed
by Jack Shaw
Courtesy of Flyfishing British Columbia
Masters Series Book 1

How to Fish
Dragonfly patterns are suited to the "meditation style" of wet-line fishing. Some anglers use dry lines and long leaders with weighted flies to reach bottom, but sinking lines work well for those who know them and this is the better way to fish dragonfly nymphs. Staying as close to bottom as practical is important as these nymphs rarely stray far from their weedy or muddy homes. A floating deerhair pattern fished over a sinking line which has been allowed to bury itself in the weeds can produce large fish.

Fishing Tip
Despite their jet-drives, dragonfly nymphs rarely scoot along; the most effective retrieves are the ones which imitate the nymphs' slow creeping stalk among the weeds. Fly color, as always, should be matched to the waters being fished. Nymphs are a lighter color immediately following a molt; trout will often feed selectively on molting nymphs.

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The Ultimate Thompson-Nicola Hatch Guide