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Monday, February 20, 2012

The Skwala Nation

The Skwala Americana stonefly is from the Perlodidae family and the first big stonefly trout see as spring approaches.  They range in size from 21mm-28mm and the female is noticeably bigger than the male.  Colors of the Skwala are different from watershed to watershed, but most will have a drab brown-olive to black body and head, with soot yellow markings on the abdomen, and a smokey dark wing.  The emergence can start in mid January in our valley rivers, and March or April in the mountains.  The nymphs clumsily swim over to the bank and crawl out to split it's exoskeleton under rocks that have livable spaces.  Much of the mating occurs here and this stoner is not like most others.  The female crawls onto the side water of a river and floats down placidly ovipositing, to many anglers they look like little twigs floating by as the Skwala does not beat it's wings while egg laying.  This is when the trout move into the side water looking for where the current pushes these bugs and concentrates them in the feeding lanes.  Late afternoon is the time to fish until just before dark, the warmer the temp the better.  I can't say this enough, observe before you cast and find the naturals on the water, then look for active fish (Skwala Eaters) keying in on them and rising.  These fish can get picky as pressure from armies of anglers pound the water (Lower Yuba), and at times a fly first presentation or a lighter tippet may be needed to fool them.

I thought I would share a few patterns that have been doing well for me, but as always I'm constantly trying different materials and ideas to see what they will and will not take - Tweaking to find the perfect Skwala.




This is my all foam Skwala I modelled after my club sandwich hopper, it floats well but what I like about a all foam pattern is that the trout seem to chew on this a bit longer allowing you to get away with a late hook set.  As with all Skwala patterns a black sharpie felt pen works wonders to get that yellow foam nice and sooty.


This is the underside of the Skwala sandwich, it gives a good profile, segmentation, and the rubber legs give the fly some movement.


This Skwala pattern is taken from Doug Swisher's Madam X fly or Bruce E. James's Black Legged Waterwalker and is used when trout start refusing patterns.  Most Skwala patterns are dark so adding a bit of white or yellow foam helps to see it on the water.  Keep the "sight" foam cut low so it does not protrude out and spook the trout.


Since most of the adults we see on the water are females laying eggs, it helps to add a oversized peice of foam protruding off the back replicating an egg sack, these are the things an experienced skwala eater will look for when trying to decipher the real thing to an artificial fly.  The more one observes of the natural and brings it back to the tying vise, the more succesful one is when presenting the Skwala adult dry.  Good Luck!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mendocino-Tahoe Conservancy Memorial Benefit

A birthday celebration in memory of conservation pioneer John Olmsted will be held March 2nd at St. Joseph’s Cultural Center in Grass Valley.


Organized by, and a benefit for the Mendocino-Tahoe Conservancy who is continuing John’s mission of protecting wildlands and creating trails. Performers will include a host of wonderful local entertainers including funky dance band, Power of Twelve. Other entertainment will include poetry readings by Molly Fisk and Maxima Kahn, a juggling comedy show with Locomotion Circus, harp and songs by Tynowyn & Rossignol, and a slide show featuring a hiking adventure along the Olmsted Cross California Trail and performance of songs by Riparia, written on the trail and inspired by its natural beauty. Purchase tickets and learn more about the Mendocino-Tahoe Conservancy at http://www.mendotahoe.org/events.html.


Please join us and enjoy a fun filled evening that supports many trails to your favorite trout filled rivers and lakes in Northern California!



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