Scuds and Sows
Almost all freshwater systems in the world will contain freshwater shrimp of some kind. Sow bugs may be localized in some cases. Water systems with a good PH are generally the most favored for high concentrations of scuds. Those with a high acidic content, less so. Either way, both are important food sources for many species of fish, not just the salmonids.
For the fly fisherman they form a very important part so far as the artificial is concerned, and also will enable many fish to be caught. Fly fishers generally refer to the fishing of such flies under the generic term of nymph fishing though this, of course, is not true in this case as scuds and sows are not nymphs. There are many fly patterns that exist that represent both scuds and sows but many more so in the case of the scud.
The naturals do vary in coloration and also size, overall shades in the light tan to tones of olive and olive gray will cover most needs if you want to represent a natural. No scuds contain the elements of bead heads and other fancy colors that are sometimes used, but as we know they will catch fish at times.
The White River system here in Arkansas has a massive population of both species and in consequence form a staple diet for the trout in the system. It makes sense to fish such artificial to catch those fish.
I am going to give you, for this month, a fly pattern that will work for both scuds and sows. Fish will not choose one over the other. If both species are found in the same body of water then the fish will eat them accordingly as they are found. This pattern essentially represents both. Overall the majority of scuds and sows will be of a olive/gray coloration and the basis for this fly represents that factor.
So far as hooks are concerned, it is popular to use curved bend hooks for scuds. The only real advantage is that a curved hook is less likely to hook up on the river bed. So far as the fish's eye is concerned l have yet to be convinced that it makes any difference, and l doubt that l ever will. Out of choice l use a regular straight shank of a given size and weight. Hook sizes between sizes 12 to 16 for scuds and 14 to 18 for sows.
Tying the Sowscud
Over the years l have messed about with many variations of scud patterns and have come to a number of conclusions so far as the artificial is concerned. I do not now consider that any material is necessary for the back of the fly such as plastic film or any of the other products sold for that purpose. Neither do l adorn the fly with a wound hackle or forward hackle fibers to the eye of the hook. The naturals of scud and sow bug are simple forms of life and are easy prey for fish to feed on. Overall a good representation of the size and color will work fine.
You have, of course, options within the general tying, which may include the addition of weight or bead heads. Ribbing mediums may be of thread, wire, crystal hair, etc. and the choice of dubbing, color and texture, being the two factors to consider. I have available my own specific sowscud dubbing blend that 95% of the time covers the general color tone found. It is a dubbing blend that contains the elements of a olive gray with sparkle and a soft texture.
Tying the DW Sowscud
Thread shade should be either of a olive or gray tone. Hook is of your choice size and profile and wire weight. If you intend to weight the hook then do so before you commence the tying of the fly.
For the tail I use some of the fiber found on the feather from a jungle cock neck but if you do not have those available then a dark shade of grizzle or dun hackle fiber will work. After the tail has been tied in, tie in at the tail end of the fly the material you have chosen for the rib of the fly.
Next stage is to form the body definition with the dubbing of your choice to a position behind the hook eye. The legs of the fly are represented using ostrich herl. You will need the shade of natural which is a dark dun color tone. Tie this in at the head end of the fly and wind it back toward the tail, when you have reached that point the ribbing is brought back in the opposite spiral to the head of the fly. At that point the material is secured and the head of the fly is finished.
You may choose now to cut the ostrich herl only above the fly body close to the body, you may also tease out some of the dubbing to the underside of your completed fly. It is a very simple fly to tie but as you will find out a very effective one to fish with.
If you would like to obtain my SOWSCUD dubbing it is available from me at a cost of $3.50 per pack inclusive of mailing cost. Click here for mailing address.