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Fly Tying
Tying and Fishing Fire Breathing Dragons

Dragon fly nymphs are a large prey item few trout pass by.
It was as though a great battle had taken place.  Vacant homes of cased caddis were strewn about the bottom of my 30-gallon aquarium.  Severed scuds lay scattered amongst the carnage.  Nothing moved.  A great storm had passed over the aquarium killing all within its path.  There, perched on one of its victim’s cases stood the eye of the storm, a mature climbing nymph or darner from the species Aeshnidae, fully 2 1/2 inches long.


Two months earlier I had placed the immature nymph within my aquarium to study.  It was about 1 inch long and darted among the weeds appearing almost shy.  How naive.  The population in my aquarium began to dwindle.  Scuds, damsels and cased caddis were a scarce commodity as the growing nymph became bold in its quest for food.  Stalking openly the dragon’s large eyes scanned for signs of movement.  Any motion caused the dragon nymph to cock its’ head like the RCA dog.  Cased caddis was a favored prey.  Picking up the nomadic grazing of the caddis the dragon would stalk its target with the stealth of a commando.  Creeping within inches of the intended victim the dragon paused.  Using water expelled through its rectum the dragon then burst upon its’ prey.  In a matter of seconds the dragon devoured the larva, piece by piece, often still alive.  Not all caddis larvae fell to this bull rush approach.  Occasionally the larva picked up the attack and darted back into the security of its’ cased home.  The dragon nymph now showed guise and cunning.  Patiently, the nymph waited outside the caddis case.  Eventually curiosity or some other foolish instinct got the better of the larvae and out popped its’ head.  In a flash the dragons hinged jaw fired out, grasped the larvae and ripped it from its case.  This feeding pattern continued unabated.  Scuds, damsels even another dragon nymph from the spider-like Sympetrum species was no match for this hunter.  Within two months the dragon nymph had eaten everything and doubled its’ size, only a couple of leeches remained.


This overt and aggressive behavior plays out in lakes, ponds and slow moving stretches of rivers every day.  Dragon fly nymphs are a large, calorie rich food source that few trout or bass pass up.  When fishing lakes, dragon nymphs are a preferred trump card when fishing is slow or inconsistent.  It is easy to figure out why dragons are important owing to their distinct look and size.  Anything that big and bold had to stumble into places it shouldn’t.  What isn’t always common knowledge is how, when or what to use to fish dragon fly nymphs successfully.

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