Fishing the Skwala Stonefly Hatch

skwala_nymph_300In early Spring we all look anxiously forward to the Skwala Stones. The water is usually off color and you’d thing why even bother. We know better. It’s Skwala Time. When matching the Lower Yuba River Skwalas remember that the bugs here locally are different in color than their cousins in Washington and Montana.

A lot of the patterns for sale in the flyshops or on-line are different in color. Our local Skwalas have an abdomen that is a dirty yellow with a slight olive tinge. Also, the wings are dark gray. This is where it really pays to collect some specimens from the river and take them home to match the color.

Look for the shucks around the bushes and rocks to give you an idea on recent hatch activity. Catch an adult, turn over some rocks and catch a nymph. Match the color and size and go fishin’.

Fishing Techniques

When are the times to imitate Skwalas to be successful:

a. As active nymphs they are often found in the water/food column for the trout, being knocked loose and free drifting. This is especially true during pre-hatch periods when their movement activity increases dramatically.

They are also available to the trout as the female adult returns to the water to lay eggs.

c. On a windy day as the adult is blown on to the water, and;

d. As a spent adult that falls on the water to die.

How to Present Imitations

1. Use as either an impressionistic searching fly or as a realistic imitation when matching the hatch

2. Drift the fly through different water types; faster riffles and shallower water near the banks of a river with moderate to slow currents are the most productive water types for this fly

3. Skwala stoneflies are available to trout during the early season (January – April) on the Lower Yuba River

4.Hatches occur consistently and with long duration throughout the daylight hours

5. Strikes on skwala stoneflies are often far from subtle because trout must often be prepared to rip these strong clingers from their rocky homes

6. When approaching a shallow water environment with a stonefly imitation, be extremely careful not to spook happily feeding trout

How to Rigg for Nymphing

Set up for nymph fishing with a two or three rigg under indicator.

1. Rigg with a tapered 9 ft 2x or 3x leader to a tippet knot.

2. Add 12 “ of 3x fluorocarbon to your favorite Skwala stone nymph imitation (Mercers Skwal Stone, hint)

3. Put split shot at the tippet knot above the stonefly nymph. The knot will stop the split shot from sliding down to the fly.

4. Tie 4x Fluorocarbon tippet to the hook bend of the Stonefly nymph and extend 12” to 16” to a caddis pupa dropper.

5. Tie 5x Fluorocarbon tippet to the hook bend of the caddis pupa nymph and extend 12” to 16” to a mayfly BWO or PMD nymph.

How to Rigg For Dries

skwala_adult_3001. Rigg for a standard dry fly presentation

2. Use a tapered 10 ft. 4x tapered leader

3. Extend tippet using 4x flurocarbon 24″ +/-

4. Attach your favorite Skwala Dry pattern


When the Skwalas are out you can experience some of the biggest takes you’ll every get on the Yuba. Try it, you’ll like it!