Skwalas are a smaller (#8-10) olive-bodied stonefly, which become active in late winter/early spring, as the water temperatures begin to push into the 40 degree range. These bugs provide the first sizeable meal for wild Yakima River cutthroat and rainbow trout since October, and fishing the Skwala hatch means the opportunity to fish to some of the largest fish in the river, before they disappear to spawn later in the spring. Below are some of our favorite Skwala imitations for both surface and sub-surface fishing. For pictures, check out our blog post titled "Top 5 Skwala Patterns."
An olive Pat's is pretty hard to beat when the fish are keyed in on Skwala nymphs below the surface. This is a simple fly to tie, although it is incredibly effective with lots of movement from the floss legs, and a great profile. Try dropping a pink or red San Juan Worm off the back late in the winter or when the water is off color.
20 Incher Stone
The 20 Incher is another great stonefly nymph, and many of our guides go-to later in March, when there are still nymphs in the drift, but the fish have seen plenty of #10 olive Pat's floating by as well. The 20 Incher does not provide as much movement as rubberlegs stones, but it has a great profile and can fish well dropped off the back of a high-floating dry.
This is a great dry-fly for early in the hatch, when the fish are aggressive and haven't been caught on top yet. Easy to tie (and see!), you will usually find plenty of #8-10 olive chubbies in our guides boxes during the month of March. This is also a great pattern to dangle a smaller stonefly nymph or PT off the back of, due to it's ability to float anything short of an anvil.
A low-floating parachute style pattern, perfect for picky fish. Oftentimes our guides will trail a Skwalameister about a foot behind an olive Chubby, using the Chernobyl as an "indicator" for the less visible 'Meister.
This is another great low-riding pattern, and is perfect for fishing in late March or early April, when the fish have seen plenty of big, gaudy dries. When sight fishing to an actively feeding fish, the Bullethead is hard to beat, especially with the occasional twitch thrown into an otherwise dead-drift.