Tying Mike's Z-lon Scud

by Mike Hogue

What are scuds?

Scuds or fresh water shrimp are one of the most common forms of aquatic life. Where ever there is watercress in streams there are bound to be scuds. In tail water rivers scuds and their cousins the sowbug are one of the most important forms of food that trout feed on. Trout will often root through the watercress seeking out scuds to eat. White River guide, Duane Hada says to think of the sowbugs as something like M&M candy. People will grab a few M&Ms to snack on and trout will often do the same with sowbugs or scuds. Big fish will feed on these in large numbers. I've caught large trout in as little as 6" of water feeding on scuds.

Scuds are very similar to the much larger shrimp we've eaten or bought in the store. Sowbugs tend to be flat, wide and a bit longer. Both scuds and sowbugs swim with their backs straight. Only when the scuds are removed from the water or die do they turn into a"c" shape like the larger saltwater shrimp.

Developing scuds are quite small and are roughly a size 20 hook. When they reach maturity they will range in size from a size 12-16. The most common size is a 14 or 16. The colors range from a light olive to light gray. Later in the season, the scud will turn dark gray. When the scud mottles he will often have a brownish back. Dead scuds turn bright orange.

Sowbugs are roughly a size 10 to 16. The most common size is a 12. In low tail waters, it may be best to use smaller sizes. In the spring, the light olive in a size 16 is a good bet to match the original. In the summer try a gray sowbug in a size 12. Fall sowbugs of a dark gray with a brown back in a size 16 are killers.

Mixing your own dubbing

There are a ton of dubbings on the market. Each year they come out with about 50 new kinds in 20 different colors. You can make you own dubbings using base materials by combining them in a coffee bean grinder which can be purchased at a discount store for around $10. To make the dubbing, simply put the different colors in the grinder and hit the button and grind for about 30 seconds. Open the lid and you've got alot of mixed dubbing.

If you're too conservative to buy a grinder ( or maybe you're camping with no electric power ) you can pinch mix the colors by pulling them back and forth between your thumb and fore fingers. Simply grab some material with one hand and pull the fibers out with the other. Doing this repeatedly, will mix the colors together.

The base materials you need for scud dubbing are antron, rabbit, squirrel or angora goat. Beaver and muskrat make nice base materials to use also. New materials like Flash-a-bou dubbing, SLF or Salmo-Web are great for adding sparkle to your dubbings if finely chopped in 1/8 " to 1/16" segments before mixing.

Dubbing Mixes

Light Olive Dubbing Mix:

50% Light olive rabbit

25% Antron -Olive

15% Fox Squirrel

10% Clear cut antron or pearl Flash-a-bou dubbing

Gray Mix:

50% Muskrat

25% Light dun Antron

15% Fox squirrel

10% Clear cut antron or pearl Flash-abou dubbing

Fall Dark mix:

50% Hare's mask Antron ( Wapsi product)

25 % Beaver

25% Clear antron ( also add pearl Flash-a-bou dubbing if you prefer)

Hot Orange Mix:

50% Hot orange rabbit

25% Orange antron

25% Clear antron or pearl flash-a-bou dubbing


Back Materials

For backs you can use scud back which is a clear elastic that stretches. Pheasant tail fibers make a dandy dark back and for a really flashy back try using a strip of pearl saltwater Flash-a-bou. Using z-lon and a marker you can add a back of any color you wish.

Z-lon Scud Pattern

Hook: Mustad 3906 B size12-16 ( 16 is my favorite)

Thread: Color to match body 6/0. Use white if that's all you have.

Rib: Fine copper wire

Back and tail: z-lon

Body: Dub mix as above


Tying The Flies

(Yeah! Illustrations...hacked by yours truly)

Begin by tying on a piece of z-lon about 1 inch long

Tie in copper wire

Dub thread

Wrap dubbing forward

Pull z-lon over the back

Make 3 wraps over back at eye of hook

Wrap wire forward, making rib segments

Trim wire with a clippers, trim z-lon and form head. Rub body with one of my vel-cro dubbing sticks to make the body fuzzy. For durability and to add some shine, paint back with a sparse amount of clear finger nail polish.Completed fly should have a short stubby tail. You're done!



Email: Mike@eflytyer.com

For more Info Contact:

Mike Hogue / Badger Creek Fly Tying / 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068

Phone: 607-347-4946