Posts Tagged ‘scuds


Fly Fishing: Scuds…hold the lemon

A must have producer for streams and stillwaters, the Scud (‘shrimp”) patterns an enticing morsel. Check the areas you fish for indications of this tasty morsel and tie accordingly in shades of green, grey, the obligatory orange, even blue. Simple to tie, this pattern has been around along time and lends itself to tying the Czech Nymph patterns (Scuds into Caddis Larva/Pupa patterns).

scud green has an excellent informational re scuds. On the appropriate rivers and streams, fish the pattern like any clinger/crawler nymph that inhabits the bottom and has been set adrift from the cobble bottom. Check out fishing Czech Nymph patterns and adopt much to the dredging techniques for all but the slowest of streams. Slower, weedier waters are usually a much more vertical, precise presentation.

For those of you that have Shrimp & Lemon on the mind…here are many mouth watering recipes.


Scuds: hors d’oeuvres or main course

Green Scuds SBScud Images



The Damsel….On The Edge….And, The Lost Net

On a recent trip to a lake, the wind was relentless for hours on end. Anchoring up was the only option as kicking or rowing was too demanding and unproductive against the winds. So, I found a narrow strip of quiet water along a reed line near shore. And, here I caught fish and a net.

I anchored in this quiet strip along the reed line. In close to the reeds the water was maybe 3′ and as it moved out toward the black arrows it quickly dropped to 6 feet. Most of the fish were taken as the fly settled down the drop off rather up near the reeds. I wasn’t seeing any working fish near the surface.

I was using a Size 14 Georgi’s Damsel in a unique ginger color. I met Georgi Harley on a B.C. lake years ago and she introduced me to the ‘instar’ color option.

I worked the Damsel pattern parallel to the shore line. Not the optimum presentation path, but the best I could do under the circumstances. It was a successful plan. At one point, I caught something else though….a landing net.

I dredged this mucky mess up to my ‘toon’ and hoisted the smelly mess onto the apron. It was a perfect structure beneath the water for all manner of aquatic critters to find their little spot.

The picture really doesn’t do justice (sorry for the blurry focus) to the amount of activity that was taking place in the nooks and crevices of this lost landing net. Damsels, lots of grey-olive scuds and larva wiggling about. It was very revealing as to color and size of insects.

Once to shore, I took the landing net and hung it over a fence post. Someone, if not the original owner, will maybe cleanup it up and make use of it. Of particular interest was a discussion I had had with a man hunkered down in his truck waiting out the wind. He wondered aloud if there were scuds in the lake. I had no idea at the time. Now I do. Some stillwater fly fishers immediately put scuds at the top of their fly list. I have some mental block there and forget scuds. I really need to fix that oversight.


Fly Tying & Fishing the Scud: To Do List

“This small crustacean is probably the most important of all organisms on which trout feed; particularly when hatches of fly larvae, pupae and terrestrials are not present.” Jack Shaw, Fly Fish the Trout Lakes, 1976.

There it is, one of those almost absolutes of fly fishing that’s plopped down before you. There is often the obligatory section in any pattern book or lake and river how to book about the Scud. But, given its prestige, it is often the fifth or sixth offering in a sequence of possible offerings…well, behind Mayfly, Caddis, Chironomids, Leeches, Stoneflies, Dragon flies, Damsels….way in the rear is the Scud with Ants, Beetles and Waterboatmen. Hmm? Not disputing the worth, just interesting.

For all the praise for Scuds, I do not fish them nearly enough. I have Scuds I tied in the late 70’s for the Crooked River…orange Scuds. I have maybe three dozen scuds, mostly grey green, some orange, some tan, and a few blue. Blue?

Yes, blue. Several years ago, I had been staying near Salmon Lake in B.C. I usually, wind permitting, fished the West end of the lake (C) where I would find plenty of size 14-16 grey-green Scuds. Up in the weeds, I would do well with Scuds as well as over in a back cove (C) (I came to call it Dead Moose Cove because of the remains there near shore). But, one evening I had to stay close to camp, so I put in at (A), a ramp and worked my way up toward (B). All along that shoreline were Bright Blue Scuds, almost electric in color. Did I have any blue Scuds? Of course not!

In the visits to follow, I had blue Scuds and they were reasonably successful in that A to B zone. 

A bit too tasseled on the end. But, a good Scud color.

 Scuds can be quite dense, akin to a Shrimp Feed at a Biloxi BBQ. They can be scattered at various depths in a lake and caught in the drift of streams. In a stream, normal nymphing techniques or Czech Nymphing are suitable. Actually, a Czech Nymph is quite suitable in smaller sizes for a Scud pattern (similar tying technique).

In lakes, the presentation is not the normal retrieve. A more jittery, nervous, fluttering movement is desired. I think, it is typical to many Mayfly and Chironomids that make that journey to the top in stages of up and down and up again movements. Not all critters make steady progress toward the surface and this same presentation would work for the Scuds.

So, one more thing to try to remember to use this Summer… “probably the most important of all organisms on which trout feed…” A Simple Scud (pics a bit fuzzy, but you will get the idea) &  More info about Scuds.



Fly Fishing: Joshua Bergan on the Unhatchers

Remember there are trout edible life forms below the surface that should be carried in your arsenal. Joshua Bergan has a brief, but worthy mention of a few. Yes, the SJW is a ‘fly’ you, dare I say it, must carry.


Fly Tying: Scuds Ambivilancy

Years ago, as I explored Central Oregon streams, I followed the advice of those in the know (blind leading the blind) and used an orange scud. As many do in the beginning stages of fly fishing, I followed the advice without knowing why, only that is offered a supposed higher odds catching a trout….good enough. As I read more, I realized that stillwaters reportedly harbored large concentrations of scuds.

As the years have progressed, I have seldom relied on scuds on rivers or lakes. I read about them. They seem to be a sure fire provocateur of the bite. So, why do I not fish them? I have tied up gray, dark olive, tan and, of course, orange ones. Yet, there they sit in my fly box….untouched. I vow to actually use scuds (this is in addition to my already issued vow of discerning a spinner fall, having spinner patterns and using them).

An intermediate clear line or floating line with long leader (10-15′) seems to be the ticket.  Scuds have two venues (streams & stillwaters) and each requires a different presentation. Scuds in the stream are best fished like any nymph, tumbled along as in drift mode. In stillwaters a more manipulated retrieve is used. Scuds will move about in several inch bursts with a pause in between. So, a strip retrieve & pause or finger roll retrieve would work. Focus on the location of weed beds (over the top, around the edges or through them if you’re patient) or lily pads.

My scattered, hodge podge of patterns displays my lack of clarity for the go to scud pattern.


Fly Tying Intell…Know the prey…



Thornton’s Freshwater Shrimp
Hook: Scud/Caddis Pupa 12-16, Thread: To match body, Legs: Light Dun Hackle, Body: Translucent Nymph Skin, colored with marker, Author: Base on Steve Thornton’s pattern, Notes: Tie in hackle and skin at bend. With each wrap, pull hack downwards, taking care not to distort wrap and to keep legs in midline. Should give this realistic looking angling of the legs forward and backwardsthorntonsfreshwatershrimp

Scuds (Streams & Stillwaters)

I have opted for the straighter shanked hook (or very slight bend) for lake scuds. I have not yet attempted to perfect how to rib the shellback with the bead in the middle. With the straighter shank the shellback appears to be more durable and likely to stay in place, rather than skewing to the side as it seems to do on a curved pupa/scud hook. Still an experiment for me….no sweat. I will get back to it some day. I tied a dozen of these and never got around to smaller sizes. I will see how they work. The dubbing mix was a leech pattern mixture I bought from some Kamloops’ tyers at a flytying expo. It was sold as a good leech dubbing…the photo shows the mixture of colored filaments quite well.  



Scuds & flytying (early experiments)

Well, a pretty unimpressive start in tying something remotely similar to the Ian James’ scud pattern. I tied one on a curved shank hook and the other on a straight shank hook. No ribbing over shellback as ribbing with bead in center of shank problematic. Also, these were size 12 & 14 hooks, so as I downsize not sure how this pattern will shape out. These look pretty good in person, so I need to as with all smaller flies, pay attention to the proportionment of materials while downsizing.


Tying Itinerary (Stillwaters & Streams)

Match the Match


The above flies are my not so good effort at Match the Hatch, or Match the Match. I bought flies. I never buy flies, but saw some nice, new patterns at The Caddis Fly Shop in Eugene, Oregon. In my effort to copy them, I think they look ok, but a bit chunky compared to the originals. The rubber legs too thick and the biots oversized and crooked. The little pupa on the right: I used too thick of copper ribbing and I applied too many thread wraps behind the bead, smothering the thorax. These were tied on 16’s and my materials were a touch oversized for that size hook. I am challenged when I tie on 16’s or 18’s. It is partly vision (maybe I need a magnifier dealy) and paying less attention to the size/quantity of the materials.  But, I liked these patterns because they were fresh looking. As I have said before, efficient as they may be, I am tired of Pheasant Tail Nymphs, Copper Johns, GRHE’s, Prince Nymphs. I find myself looking for something new OR creating my own impressionistic patterns.

The tying agenda is now as follows: Scuds/Czech Nymphs, Midge emergers (have gobs of pupa, but stumped with that late evening, last light hatch), Callibaetis (all stages), Roxy’s, Caddis pupa (lots of fun here to create or tie the Tied Down Caddis for nostalgia’s sake), Wets and a few basic mayfly duns ( I plan on using the medium ginger hackle on some flies to experiment with the UV glowing phenom. referenced in earlier post here)     

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