Pumpkin Head Damsel Fly Pattern

Pumpkin Head Fly Pattern Tying Recipe

The Pumpkin Head was created by John Kent originally for fishing in Tunkwa Lake in BC, a highly productive but frequently low visibility lake. Originated as a damsel imitation this fly is a killer all around attractor pattern for searching a new lake or fishing when there is no specific hatch.


Hook: Size 10-12 Tiemco 2312 or 200R

Thread: 8/0 Olive

Tail: Medium Olive Marabou

Body: Hareline’s Krystal Dub Olive

Hackle: Burnt Orange Grizzly Hackle

Bead: #8 Orange Silver-lined Ceramic

Rib (Optional): 0.010″ Red or Orange Wire

Option #1: tie this fly using orange zebra legs for that extra buggy look

Option #2: add weight to the under body for use in moving water


Fishing Methods:           

Fish the pumpkinhead in the same way as a traditional woolly bugger or a damsel nymph pattern. It can be cast and retrieved on the end of an intermediate sink tip over drop-offs or on shoals. It can be equally as effective fished under an indicator, especially if there is a light riffle on the water. When fishing under an indicator a slow or quick hand twist retrieve will work. I’ve personally found it to be equally successful trolled as you would a leech pattern.



I was skeptical when my brother brought out this pattern on my very first fly fishing trip. I was a newbie to fly fishing and always assumed that flies needed to emulate an insect. This thing was green with a shiny orange head, certainly not like anything in nature. We were trolling in mid-May in a gin clear lake in the interior of BC. My first rainbow ever on a fly rod was taken with a Pumpkin Head fly pattern. It was an 18” silver bullet which ran on me at least a dozen times (I was fishing an old style click-pawl reel with almost no drag). Needless to say I was hooked and the Pumpkin Head has been a staple in my fly box ever since.

Tie this fly on a heavy hook as takes can be very aggressive!

I know a place where coho salmon love taking olive leeches. I may just need to try the Pumpkin Head and see what happens!


Species Targeted: Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Bull Trout, Bass

Creator:  John Kent (Variation on Denny Rickards Stillwater Nymph)

Submitted By:  Rob Woods


Rob Woods

Rob Woods is the older of the two brothers and is a little more novice of the two as a fly fisher. He’s been lucky enough in a few trips fly fishing to land rainbows over 9 lbs and pink salmon over 7 lbs and is continuing to learn to tie flies. Rob’s is also the father of 2 beautiful daughters who he is hoping catch the fishing bug. Outside of fishing Rob also enjoys, cooking and grilling, camping, and the outdoors. Rob is also an experienced internet marketer specializing in SEO in Vancouver. He’s the one responsible for most of this site so if anything is wrong, you can blame him.


  1. First off, congratulations on cnathicg some trout!!!!!! Way to go.As to your question about why they would only take a nymph once and not again,The best answer I can give you is, That’s Fishing .Usually that does not happen and no, the trout don’t send off messages to keep other trout away. Most likely they were not really in a feeding mood but were curious. You dropped in a new tidbit for them to check out and one would grab it. Normally you would just keep using the same fly and not have any problems. But, I have seen that happen before where one takes it and the others ignore it.As for why this happened, Jim M had a possible reason, a different approach or possibly the fly was sitting in the water differently after the first fish. There are a lot of variables. Usually, if the fish are in a feeding state, they will keep taking the same fly, totally destroying the fly regarding how it looked when it first hit the water. By the time you finish fishing with it, some of the flies can look rather ragged, but still catch fish.Chalk it up as a learning experience but one that you won’t see very often.Again, congratulations on cnathicg some fish. Bet that 18 incher fought good and hard.Larry

  2. This is one of the patterns I personally hav had alot of success with.

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