Best Damn Scud Pattern. Period.

If I had a dime for every puzzled look I've received when answering 'Scud' to the question of "What are you using?" I'd have....well, not enough to push me into a new tax bracket, but it might be enough to buy me a double cheeseburger at Mickey D's.

Not sure why, but it seems like there are a lot of folks out there that, for one reason or another, have never heard of a scud, or have just never given them much thought. Which is a shame, considering that this pattern, in my opinion, deserves it's place among the heavyweights, such as the Pheasant Tail and RS2.

A guy I once fished with scoffed at the idea of using a scud. He was more of a dry-fly purist, and had a tendency to look down upon wet flies in general, but using something as gnarly and dirty as a scud? Uncivilized. Damn straight. I take pride in the fact that I'm one DNA base away from being a primate.

As it is, conventional wisdom and traditions are wonderful - but keeping an open mind is even greater. Plus, it will keep you from smelling like 'old man and sour butt' (which are Eva's words, not mine).

And yes, I really should get my ass kicked for using the word scoffed.

Anyway, for me, this scud pattern is the undisputed champ when it comes to big fish - I've caught more big'uns using this pattern, than any other fly that I carry - which isn't really saying much, since I only use a handful of nymphs to begin with. I guess it's the minimalist in me. Or maybe because I'm an idiot.

So what is a scud? It's a small, fresh-water crustacean that is prevalent year-round, in most tail-water systems, spring creeks and some large bodies of water, and they are an important component to a fish's dietary intake. Plus, when they go forth and multiply, they do it by obscene amounts, making even the staunchest of Mormons envious of their pro-creation skills.

Note: a scud is also a type of missile, and you should never, ever get the two confused, otherwise, bad things could happen. Really. Bad. Things.

For the most part, these ugly little bugs hang out amongst the aquatic vegetation. They are aggressive eaters and can swim quite well, using their 14 little legs to get to where they're going. While swimming or crawling, they tend to flatten out some, but their most common state while floating is in a curled configuration, much like the shrimp in your cocktail, or me, in the fetal position, after eating a Don Juan's combination burrito.

There are a lot of scud patterns out there, in different shapes, sizes and colors. One of the most popular being the orange UV Scud that Pat Dorsey ties - supposedly, this is the color of a scud that has bought the farm and is easy pickings for feeding trout.

Regardless, the colors I tend to use are an olive, olive/silver mix or a tan/yellow combination, and they've worked quite well for me on a lot of tail-waters out here in the West - in particular, the Platte, Taylor and the Blue.

As far as water conditions go, I've used it in all of the different types of water that a river can throw at you and I've had success in all of them - from drop pools to riffles, flats to deep seams.

Below is the BDSP version that I've been using exclusively for the past few years - and it's my personal ace-in-the-hole. It's the very same fly that I've used to catch most of those big fish in the pictures and videos.

And I give it to you freely. Consider this an early Christmas present. Or Pagan Offering. Or whatever the hell you celebrate in today's politically-correct landscape. Just be sure to remember where you got it from.

Best Damn Scud Pattern. Period.

Hook: #16 Tiemco 2488
Thread: 8/0 Red UNI-Thread
Tip/Tail: Pheasant Center Tail (4-5 from the tip)
Body: Creamy Yellow Dubbing (or Olive w/ Silver)
Back: 1/4 inch Tan Scud Back (or Olive)
Rib: Copper Ultra Wire (Hot Orange also works) / Silver Ultra Wire (with the Olive)

Step 1

Begin by attaching your thread to the hook and making a couple of wraps - yeah, this is the easy stuff.

Step 2

Place your wire along the hook and begin wrapping your thread towards the back.

Note: at this point, some of you may be tempted to add a few twists of lead, and that's fine. Personally, I prefer using split-shot on the line for more control.

Stop the wrap about 1/4 way around the bend of the hook and give the thread a few extra turns.

Step 3

Now wrap the thread back towards the front of the hook, stopping just behind the eye.

Step 4

Pluck, pull or gnaw 4-5 fibers from the tip of your Pheasant Tail and place them (tapered ends forward) along the shank of the hook. How much, you ask? Hell, I don't know. Look at the picture and guesstimate - be a rebel. Er...a sensible rebel.

Now that you've bucked tradition, wrap the thread towards the back of the hook and stop just shy of the few extra turns that you performed in Step 2. You did make a few extra turns, right?

Step 5

Ok, once again, wrap your thread back up the hook to about the midway point, and get ready for some serious fun. Now would be a good time to take a drink of that beer sitting next to you.

Using a lot of dexterity (and patience) attach the scud backing to the hook. I'll wait. And while I do, let me jaw your ear for a minute:

Go out and purchase some scud backing. Don't be a cheap weasel and use ziplock baggies or some other crap you find lying around the house. Backing is soft, pliable and you can stretch the hell out of it - it also holds it's shape well after repeated use. That's all I have to say about that.

After you've managed to get a few turns of thread around the backing to secure it to the hook, gently pull back on the skin and continue wrapping until you make it back to the place on the hook where you made the few extra turns that I suggested in Step 2 and mocked you about in Step 4.

Step 6

Here's an easy part - place some of the dubbing onto your thread, and begin wrapping towards the front of the hook.

When you're finished, it should look something like this.

Step 7

Remember the scud backing that we put on a few steps back? Go ahead and grab it and pull it forward, over the top of the dubbing and slightly down across the eye. While keeping constant pressure on the backing, quickly get a few turns of thread around that bastard to lock it down.

Now finish your beer and get another cold one ready.

Step 8

Now, take your wire and gently wrap it around the body of the fly, applying just enough pressure to create some detail. Once you've made it to the front, you can apply a few turns of thread to secure it, and then cut/helicopter twist the wire off.

Two things that you may notice at this time: one, is that the wire may slide all over he scud backing. If this happens, know that I am laughing with you, and not at you. Consider using a little less pressure on your wrap and that should stop the slippage.

Second, you may also notice that the scud backing is turning on the dubbing (be sure to look on the other side of the fly while you do this). Again, if this happens, you can use your fingers to twist it back into place. A little less pressure while wrapping your wire should solve this problem.

Step 9

Next, pull back on the skin just enough to stretch it - and then trim the excess.

Now, give your thread a few wraps around the front, with the goal being a nice smooth taper into the form of the body. Whip finish that bad boy and apply a drop of head cement.

Step 10

Now we can trim the tail. As you can see in the picture, I am using the scissors from directly above while pulling the fibers out and to the back.

Two questions that you may be asking yourself - how long do I make it, and how did he manage to say tail and trim in the same sentence?

Make the length of the tail long enough to stick out. Easy enough? I don't think I've ever had a consistent length on either end of this pattern for as long as I've been tying them, and the fish really don't seem to mind. As long as you keep the lengths somewhat close to what I have in the pictures, it'll work.

Step 11

Using your dubbing needle, pull out some of the dubbing from the underside of the fly. Don't be shy, get in there and pull some out like a man.

Finally, using your scissor, go in at an angle, and trim the ends of the dubbing (it should be longer in the front, getting shorter the farther back it goes).

You can actually take this pattern an extra step by applying epoxy to the back - it does look really good like that. But, does it make a difference in the long run, as far as effectiveness? I haven't noticed a difference.

So, what can this fly do? See for yourself. The very same fly being tied in the pictures above, was used, several days later, to catch the fish in the first two pictures below (along with a few others). The fish on the bottom was caught with the same pattern on the Taylor.

Hopefully it works as good for you, as it does for me. If you end up with some great pictures, by all means, send me a copy.

Jerry with a kick-ass 'bow, caught on the BSDP. April, 2010

One of several big tubs that fell for the BSDP. August, 2010

...and another. June, 2011

November, 2011


Bigerrfish said...

ah the scud.... I dont know im kinda on the fence with scuds honestly never bit off the 10 in 10 and tied one on but im down to try anything once or twice or three times...p.s. your since of humor is pleasant

Colorado Angler said...

I'm sending ya some. Drift 'em...it may surprise you.

Bigerrfish said...

Dude I'll fish with the damn thing every freaking gosh darn time I'm out until I catch a fish with it For real..then I take pics send them to you and we did somethin..... frickin fish...mannnnnnnn I want to kick there ass

The Oatkan said...

Thanx for the recipe. I love scud'n. They're essential out here where i live, we fish 'em in both pink and olive. Its the first thing I go to when there's no apparent hatch come'n off, and they do draw big fish.

Colorado Angler said...

Highly effective...the fish love 'em.

I've used an olive variation for a long time, and had great success out here with it, but have never used pink or orange.

Out of all of the patterns I've used throughout the years, the one above has been the most deadly.

Unknown said...

"Best damn scud pattern, period"

I don't know about that ... but, it is possible I'm slightly biased since I do run a business that is based on the fact that our scud is one of the best damn scuds, period.

Colorado Angler said...

Jeff..you SHOULD be biased - you and your brother produce some outstanding flies (several of which I still retain in my box).

For me, if I had to choose just ONE fly...and one fly only, this is the one I'd roll with.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Colorado Angler said...

Thanks anonymous. Yeah, when I first started it was just a quick way for family and friends to see (read: ignore) my fishing excursions. Since then, it's grown into something a little more solid, and requires me to actually put some thought into it.

Thanks for the kind words!

Ken Morrow said...

nice tutorial on a solid scud pattern. try it in bleached ginger with clear scud backing for really clear water and bright sunlight conditions. stick with the red thread. it's a killer!

Colorado Angler said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Ken, I'll have to give that combo a try - I'm a scud fanatic and love trying different recipes.

I agree about the red thread and, I tend to use it on a lot of the flies I tie where it makes sense - like my PTs, for example.

Anonymous said...

nice pattern, try one wrap of orange dubbing in the middle of the pattern.sometimes this is the trick to nail some picky fish. it represents a parisite that lives in scuds. good luck!

Colorado Angler said...

Thanks for the suggestion - would this also be why some folks tie a bead in the middle? I've seen a lot of patterns that use a brightly colored bead - orange, red, etc.

Unknown said...

love your tying pics - I'll have to give this scud a shot on my SE streams and see if I can hook any of those monsters that have been avoiding my advances...

(oh and just to let you know, Bigerrfish drove me to your scud)

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Colorado Angler said...

On The Fly - thanks for comment, and thanks for stopping by.

The pattern is solid, and I hope it's as effective for you, as it is for me.

Yeah, Bigerrfish...I'm going to have to hook up with him on some water this year for sure. Great guy!

Anonymous - seriously? Are you an idiot? Not a lot of 'action' for hip-hop shit within the fly fishing community.

I'm leaving your shameless plug up, however, as a testament to the utter stupidity that is rampant in society now-a-days.

You're proof that the natural selection process is necessary...

Unknown said...

I'm not very good at fly tying, but I am hitting the Colorado River in November, and I know Ginger Scuds work well there. Could I buy some from you? How do I contact you?



Colorado Angler said...

Hi Mark - no need to buy anything. Contact me at rkarins@comcast.net and we'll go from there.

Anonymous said...

hey, tie scuds in size 4 and 2 long shank wide gap hooks, tough guy. Basically use a bass hook for scuds and midges as well. Ok, go get em kid...

Also, don't forget; use a full sink line when throwing dry flies, you jack sandwich, you...

Colorado Angler said...

Size 4? SIZE 4? No way, Jose.

As for the full sink line....I don't throw dries, so that's wasted on me.

Gary Thompson said...

That is a very nice looking Scud. My fly box is cursing my name and requires attention. In only a couple more weeks, after the bird season ends, I'll be free to turn my attention toward gill pursuits! Yea baby!

Anonymous said...

I'm brand new to tying, just got my vice a couple of days ago. Don't know if anyone will even see this old thread but I wanted to share that I tied a version of this scud and today I caught my very first fish on a my own fly. Super cool!!! I mixed olive dub with a little 'ice dub' (shiny stuff?), also put a dab of orange dubbing in the middle. Silver ultra wire, clear scud backing. Also tied in little eyes made of melted 1x tippit. I'm sure that didn't matter but I think it looks cool. Thanks for the ideas!