Skwala time! The word is on every western Montana fly fisherman’s lips, and the recent spate of warm weather finally has the bugs moving en masse. The hatch is on. The annual migration of the nymphs from the depths to the shore for their hatch has big fish in slow riffles looking up on the Bitterroot and lower Clark Fork. Read my article on some great flies for the early skwala hatch here!
That annual migration of bugs means a full-on invasion of Ravalli county by Missoula fisherman, and boat ramps are full of county 4 license plates. Those anglers with the right presentation in the right spots are getting big eats. The early days of the hatch call for deep bottom-rolling nymphs and gaudy, big foam dry offerings will get it done. But that changes fast, with so much pressure on fish and so many foam floppers flying overhead. A low riding, thin-bodied pattern can sometimes make the difference between a fish on and a fish spooked. Gray’s Lo Pro Skwala not only rides low and slinky in the water, but it has tons of wiggle as well, which some of the more traditional patterns for the “olive stonefly” hatch lack. It’s easy to tie, uses minimal materials and gets the job done- perfect for those last-minute ties when the hatch is on. Check out this tutorial from Jeff Gray at Western Flies and Guides for a great skwala pattern for finding that bulky brown in the skinny water.