Calopteryx splendens - Banded Demoiselle

Phylum: Arthropoda - Class: Insecta - Order: Odonata - Family: Calopterygidae

Calopteryx splendens, Banded Demoiselle, male
Above: Calopteryx splendens, Banded Demoiselle, male

The Banded Demoiselle is a river insect, and it breeds mainly in slow-flowing, muddy reaches of rivers and streams. Occasionally this large and lovely damselfly breeds in shallow silt-rich ponds; we have them in our garden pond along with Common Blue and Large Red damselflies and three dragonfly species.

In the summer sunshine there can be few more splendid sights than these delightful insects with their iridescent bodies and elegant wings. The female is similar to Calopteryx virgo, but the male has quite distinctive smoky wing patches.

Calopteryx splendens, Banded demoisellem, female
Calopteryx splendens, Banded Demoiselle, female

Flyfishing tactics

In most fast-flowing rivers there is limited opportunity to use a damselnymph imitation, as the natural nymphs are slow moving creatures.

Nymph of a Calopetryx damselfly

Places where a damsel nymph can be effective include the River Monnow, in Wales, and the River Boyne, in Ireland, Each of these great flyfishing rivers have many slow-flowing stretches where the water drifts along lazily between reed-fringed banks. In the reedy areas, where trapped silt builds up and is not swept away easily during spates, Calopteryx splendens, the Banded Demoiselle, lives in surprisingly large colonies.

To imitate these sizeable morsels, try a large green nymph (tied on a size 6 or 8 long-shank hook) drawn slowly along near the riverbed and as close as you can to the reeds. Trout get to eat many more of the immature nymphs than they ever do of the adult damselfliesm, and so an imitation of the winged adult is unnecessary

In southern Britain the Banded Demoiselle, also known as the Banded Agrion, is a very common damselfly, but it is found mainly in southern and central England, in Wales, and in southern and central Ireland. Further north it becomes increasingly scarce and localised.

There are about forty species of dragonflies and damselflies in the British Isles, although some are now quite rare and hardly ever seen.


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