Fly of the Month – Pat’s Sow Scud

by Pat Neuner, Wapsi Product Development Manager
scud Sow Bug

I’ve had success with this pattern all across the country wherever scuds and sow bugs are a primary food source for trout.  Here are the steps to tying the fly:

step oneInsert a heavy wire nymph hook into the vise and wrap the hook shank with .020 wire as shown.  I use size 14 -18 most of the time.  Don’t hesitate to experiment with hook shapes.  I really like the look of the fly with a long shanked curved nymph hook such as our Lighting Strike NH7 (Nymph/hopper hook).  For this fly I am using a 2x heavy wire Lightning Strike NW1 (Nymph/Wet fly hook).






You can use any fine thread but my preference is UTC Mono in size .004 in smoke color. The mono thread helps to make a nice segmented body.
3Next we want to prepare the shellback.  Cut a thin strip of Thin Skin. Pull off the paper backing prior to tying in the strip.  I like to use the “Fly Specks” print pattern in tan/black color for tan flies and the clear/black for dun/gray flies. 








Tie in the Thin Skin strip as shown.





Now tie in three pieces of Ostrich Herl as shown.







Twist the three pieces of Ostrich Herl.  This will essentially make a “yarn” that can be wrapped forward.   






Wrap the Ostrich Herl forward toward the back of the hook eye.






When you reach the rear of the hook eye tie off the Ostrich Herl.  It isn’t too critical that the wraps be perfect – you just want to cover the hook shank with the herl. 





Here is a photo of the body of the fly prior to the shellback being pulled over.







Pull the Thin Skin over the back of the fly to form a shellback as shown.  For this photo the vise jaws have been rotated to give you a clearer view of the top of the fly.






Trim off the excess Thin Skin near the eye and secure the strip with several thread wraps.  We are now ready to rib the fly.You’ll notice that I didn’t tie in a piece of wire as ribbing material.  Since this is a fly I tie in large numbers I take a shortcut by using my fly tying thread as a rib.  It doesn’t make for as durable a fly, but I usually lose the fly before I have to worry about it falling apart after caught fish.




Now we will rib the fly.    Take your thread and pull it along the side the body to the back of the hook.  From this point begin to rib the fly toward the eye.






Rib the fly by spacing the thread wraps evenly.  This will make for distinctly pronounced segmentation.Once you’ve made a few thread wraps at the head of the fly finish it with a whip finish knot.  For this photo I’ve rotated the fly in the vise once again to show you the top view of the fly.






This is a side view of the fly.  You’ll notice its’ profile resembles both a scud and a sowbug.  Most of the time I leave the fly exactly as pictured.  If the fish are keying in on one food form vs. another then I may alter the appearance of the fly somewhat to make it look a bit more realistic.




19Since the underbody of the fly is made with .020 round lead wire it can be flattened horizontally to imitate a sowbug more precisely or vertically to look more like a scud.  You can then brush the fibers of the Ostrich Herl to resemble legs on the side or underneath of the fly.

To flatten the lead, use a small pair of smooth jaw pliers or the inside of your fly tying scissors behind the blades.  The two opening photographs in the article show the fly flattened to both profiles.

Although I didn’t mention it in the article, by varying the profile of this fly slightly and adding a dubbed thorax the fly makes for an excellent caddis larvae or pupae imitation.  The best part of tying flies with Ostrich Herl is that they are fast and easy to tie.  Give the Sow-Scud a try sometime on your local waters.  Hopefully it’ll work for you as well as it does on the trout here in the White River system.