Skwala patterns?

o mykiss

Active Member
Wish I could be more helpful, but did want to let you know that I was on the Yak at Umtanum two weekends ago and ran into some guy who said he took some fish on Skwala patterns - one nymph and one dry. I thought he referred to the nymph pattern as the Big Ugly, and remember him describing the dry as kind of a black stimulator tied parachute style (presumably without the palmered hackle). Seeing as I had about the same success fishing a lightning bug or beadhead prince with little droppers like pheasant tails, I wasn't convinced that skwalas offered a decided advantage.

Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
I fished the lower canyon Sunday. Picked the wrong day. It was the peak of the last freshet event, and was just mud. And I froze my toes off. The only thing I caught was an adult Skwala. Like a alien abduction, I stuck him in a plastic box and brought him back to the lab (tying table)where he was measured, probed, and photographed.

He's a #10 3X long size. Back and yellowish brown. He was lighter in color before his demise. (Wouldn't hold still for a picture, but I think he was a hatchery). The flies recommended at Red's appear to have a elk hair wing that's too wide and light in color and a body color that's green when I'm seeing dark brown and yellow brown.

I've been tying these:
tread: 3/0 yellow
tail: sparse black deer hair
body: yellow foam strip wrapped, darkened down the ventral center line with a black or brown sharpie, with other random pen darkening.
wing: hair from a piece a guy gave me that looks like a road kill. It's a nice mix of tan, a few black hairs, and is not so hollow that it flares excessively. I think it's elk mane, maybe elk throat. It makes the perfect buggy stone wing. Don't know what I'm going to do when it's all gone. Also I mix in a few strands of black krystal flash.
Head: bullet head of the same hair. But I think I should go darker, even all the way to black.
legs: black round rubber. If I had the banded "centipede legs" I'd use them.
Thanks, exactly the information I was looking for, and I like your style (and your bug).

If you go to the Worley Bugger web site, they have two excellent pictures of a live skwala, top and bottom, where the bug seems blackish olive with distinct yellow markings on the ventral surface, and the wings greyish dun. It unfortunately doesn't give any hint of scale, so thanks for the measurements. It seems to me that the two features worth keying on in an immtation are those yellow highlights on the underside and the distinctly long cerci (tails).

I do like the bullet head, a great and reasonably simple feature that I consistently neglect when designing stonefly patterns. I know that rubber legs are derigeur these days, and they help the fly float right, but damn they twist my leader; any thoughts?

I have been tying a chernobyl type pattern that I offer back in thanks (sorry I can't provide pictures):

Hook: #10 3xL dry
Thread: 6/0 yellow
Underbody: Olive or dark green closed cell foam
Overbody: black foam
Legs: black or banded round rubber
Wing: Coastal deer (a nod to tradition)

Step 1: Wrap the hook well from eye to bend with tying thread.

Step 2: tie 1/8" to 1/4" wide strip of foam to top of hook (tie in at bend, hold foam up and wrap thread forward on hook shank to next "segment" point, then tie down foam again. repeat to form segmented abdomen.) Trim slightly past bend and eye. Whip-finish and trim thread at eye.

Step 3: Tie overbody on at bend (foam strip should be slightly wider than underbody. half-hitch, trim, and cement thread.

Step 4: Tie overbody down at thorax (actually right behind hook eye). Hold underbody and overbody up and wrap a largish thread head to force foam up at slight angle. whip-finish, trim, and cement thread. Trim overbody slightly longer than under body, fore and aft.

Step 5: tie in rubber legs on either side of "thorax."

Step 6: tie in wing of unstacked deer hair on top of thorax. half-hitch, trim and cement thread. Trim butt-ends of deer hair (kind of like an elk hair caddis).

After offering advice on the tails, I notice this pattern has none. I'm thinking of trying gubber legs or hackle stems, tied in like the legs, at the rear tie down point at the hook bend. If you tie this patern, remember that even though it's foam, it still needs to be dressed.

Thanks again.

Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
I usually don't use rubber legs. Usually I have poor results with rubber leg drys or wets, except for a day in a boat last year where a yuk bug was the fly. I thought it was the hair wing that caused my leader twist, since I usually fish a clarks stone dry during Acroneuria season. Sometimes I can't see what is wrong with the fly, but I solve it by switching to a new copy.

The river is getting nice and clear, but if it doesn't warm up, the Skwalas may all be back underground this friday.

Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
I tried my fly with a black bullet head last night and caught one on the second cast. The river keeps getting lower and clearer, but I wish I had more daylight. Friday is warmer and partly cloudy. Should be good for you.