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Monday, December 15, 2014

The Yuba Skwalanator - The Experiment

Note: The colors are definitely more golden than this photo captures

Introducing "The Yuba Skwalanator". I've been on a quest since last winter after being humiliated by refusal after refusal of every Skawala dry fly I had in my box, to come up with a better pattern to match the Skwalas on our local Lower Yuba River. I had decent luck last February and March with the standard patterns I carry when fishing the nervous types of water, but when the fish would move down into eddy type water or the flats below riffles where they could really take a good look at the flies, no takers. They turned up their noses and said "Fakers go home!" They would take live Skwalas inches from my dry fly put no dice.

So in an effort to refine this pattern I have collected just about every pattern on the market out there and talked to my fishing buddies, taken many mental notes and this is the pattern I've come up with this tie.

Recipe for the "Yuba Skwalanator" (Arnold is still Governor by the way).

Hook: Tiemco 2312, Size 12 (This is the first major change. The Lower Yuba Skwalas are smaller than most patterns in the market)

Thread: 6/0 or 8/0 Black ( I like to use the 8/0 because of the many materials used in this pattern.

Egg Sack: 1/8" black foam cut to 3/32" wide. (Double over and tie about 1/8" past the hook bend.

Palmered Hackle:

Body: Blended antron dubbing 2/3 golden, 1/3 olive. ( This is the second major change from all the patterns on the market. The Skwala on the Yuba river are more Golden Olive with emphasis on the golden)

Under wing: Hareline No-Fray Wing Material Black (Fine mesh wing material like micro window screen)

Over wing Flash: 5 to six strands of Krystal Flash

Wing: Dark Brown Deer Hair - (Sparse Wing)

Dubbing at Thorax: Blended antron dubbing 2/3 golden, 1/3 olive

Rubber Legs: 2 pairs of Hareline Fine Round Rubber Legs Black

Hackle: Black Dry Fly Hackle size 14

That's a lot of materials to fit on that size 12 hook. Minimize your wraps and dubb with very small amounts of dubbing. Sparse!

Can't wait to give it a go. If I was a trout, I'd eat it. If they work I'll sell them on the river for $20 a pop. Kidding!

As a note: I've tied some of these with the Deer Hair wing using the cut butts over the wing. I've heard that that has made a difference. I took photos of this with a standard wing because it was prettier. I guess the trout might like the weird hair do.

Thanks to Norm Sauer, Tom Page, Keith Scott and Frank Rinella for their insights on the Lower Yuba River Skwala hatch. Also thankd to ralph Wood who came up with a Skwala Pattern that inspired this sort of "Stimulator Tie". Thus watch out for the Yuba Skwalanator.


  1. Great looking fly. I think folks fish way to big a Skwala also. I fish a little olive stone on the Truckee...

  2. I like it! I am also in the search for a good skwala pattern. I must have gone through 6 different patterns. I've had some luck on my moose hair tube dry but more than not, the fish gives me the middle finger. I believe the most important attributes are size, low profile and long legs. I think you've got it with this pattern. Cheers-

  3. First up I am pretty new to fly fishing and tying and am yet to catch a Yuba trout on top...just don't seen to have the skills/knowledge to get it done. Anyway One thing I have found with my Skwala nymphs that I tie if I tie the thorax part of the fly more golden than the abdomen i seem to have better result when I am fishing?? After looking at Andy Guibord's great photo's (
    I don't see why the same wouldn't hold true for the dry's?? Anyway like the fly, don't know if my abilities extend to tying them like that yet but I will give it a try.



    PS Thanks for all the advice on your blog. A rookie like me really appreciates your willingness to share!!

  4. Thanks for the comments, I think this year we'll get it right. If not, I've got some other ideas. The prototype, "Skwalanator" is designed as more of a nervous water fly. I've got another in my vice right now for the eddies and flats. I'm going to call it the "Skwala Knothead", It's designed as a flush floater with a bullet head. It's coming up. Also a new Yuba Skwala Nymph. Stay tuned!

  5. i had the good fortune of meeting Clay on the Yuba yesterday and he was gracious enough to give me one of his new Skwalanator flies. The first thing you notice is the slim profile. They look much "cleaner" that the commercial ties.

    I can't wait to try it out!!

    Bob F

  6. Hi Clay, the ones I tie have a colored piece of foam for the egg sac on the butt and I always trim the hackles to lay flat on the water. When they sit low on the slicks it really helps and sometimes a little twitch does the trick. Nice wing idea, I used to use landscape artificial mulch material, but it was a little to soft so will try your idea....thanks. Love low water in Feb Willie

  7. Hey Willie, I use a piece of 1/8" foam trimmed down to about 3/32 for the egg sack. They have the wing material at Nevada City Anglers, it's called "No Fray Foam". It's very cool! I trim the hackles on the top so the wing sits down and doesn't catch the wind when you're casting and also trim the bottom, but being vain, I though the photos I took looked better with it non-trimmed. My bad!

    The hardest thing is to get the color right. I've had the best luck using 6/0 olive thread and yellow antron dubbing. The olive thread bleeds just enough "olive" cast to the yellow to turn it to the yellow/olive "Yuba Skwala" color, which is more yellow than olive.

    I've got another prototype variation that I'm working on called "The Knothead" that will sit in and partially under the film, for that quiet eddy type water where the fish get so fussy. I'll get that on the blog later this week.

    Thanks for the comments, I can't wait to try them out!



Have any Questions or Comments? Let me know, Clay.