What are the best ways to fish scuds and sowbugs?

Question: What are the best ways to fish scuds and sowbugs? Depth, location of splitshot, any motion applied or just deaddrift, etc. I would appreciate any hints. _ James

The Journal Answers: Scuds and Sowbugs are the staples of any White River fly box, alongside midges for one good reason. These food sources are always in the river and they always seem to work. But don’t worry about your question, you aren’t the first to ask in the past month.

So let’s start at the beginning. Turn any water-covered stone in the system and its a fair bet you’ll turn up one or the other. As you will see from the images below Sowbugs are deep bodied, kind of like little shrimp, though they aren’t a true freshwater shrimp. Colors can range from orange to tans, browns greys and olives

Sowbugs on the other hand are shaped more like those slaters, or roly-polys you find in the garden. A feature of these bugs is the darker centre and almost translucent edges. Most of the sowbugs Ive found tend to lean to subtle shades of gray, and olive.Pictures from Troutnut.com

Basically you can approach fishing either scuds or sowbugs as you would any other nymph pattern. Dead drift, with or without an indicator, works pretty well. This is a great approach on big fish too who find it hard to resist these tempting morsels.

But you do need to fish these flies down where they live, among the stones. Neither are regarded as Olympic class swimmers, though scuds can dart short distances, so they don’t roam far from the protection of home.  So if you aren’t catching fish on these patterns try going deeper before changing flies.

I generally run these flies in low water conditions, (just on habit) though you can fish these patterns on higher water levels. I tend to rely on the built-in weight in Davy’s Sowbugs or McClellans’ Hunchback Scuds and V-Rib Woven Sowbugs or Kaufmann’s Scuds, in slower water.

But in the faster shoals, I’ll start adding weight depending on water speed and depth. Generally I’ll set the shot 6″ to 8″ above the fly, trying to get the shot bouncing over the tops of the gravel or bedrock and the fly swimming slightly above the bottom.As I mentioned earlier I fish these dead-drift, either searching likely water or sightfishing to individual trout holding in a feeding lie. However, and in fly fishing there is always a however, I recall watching a Gary Borger video a couple of years back in which he advocated swinging scuds through the faster riffles of Yellowstone Valley spring creeks, mised with jerky little strips or twitches of the rod tip. To some this might have been heretical but the titbit stayed with me.

Last fall the Journal was messing around at Wildcat, sightfishing to a health brown and in exasperation at missed take let the scud swing downstream through the tailout of the pool. Of course the scud was hammered. Remembering Borger I tried again and it was the same result.

One day does’t make a rule, but it was enough of a indicator that I’m going to keep it in my bag of tricks.

I hope this helps you out.   

3 Comments

3 thoughts on “What are the best ways to fish scuds and sowbugs?

  1. James Nemec

    Thankyou for your insights. Very helpful. See you in April.

    Jim Nemec

  2. No problem James, hope it helped.

    Definately something to carry in your box for when midges aren’t working.

  3. Nice little piece – scuds have always been a regular fixture in my fly box and it’s one of the more productive patterns that i use. Depending on the water conditions, I will either dead drift ‘em (fast water) or dance ‘em a little (slower water).

    Ironic, but some of the bigger fish I’ve caught have been on size 22 scuds. I can usually get some attention when running them through fast, deep rifts with plenty of split shot – caught more than my share of nice trout that way.

    Anyway, nice piece, and tight lines to you, my friend.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 12,656 other followers

%d bloggers like this: