The Scud Factor


Rainbow trout with Buzzcut Scud


 “The Scud Factor”

Dennis McKinney

            On a shallow shoreline on the far side of a mountain reservoir, overstuffed trout cruise by in the deep blue water beyond the weed line. Swimming slowly, the trout shop the edge of the weeds for edibles, inspecting all prospects carefully before committing, staying low, and never revealing their whereabouts with a telltale rise. Most are rainbows; a few are Snake River cutthroats – all are well fed.

I can not see them from where I wade near shore but I know they are there because occasionally one of them mistakes my fly for the real thing. Sometimes I land the trout and release it and sometimes the trout releases itself in the air over the weeds. Either way is all right with me. The biggest thrill is in the take, that single moment when science and skill come together and a homemade fly becomes trout food.

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Brown-Hackle Peacock


  • Hook: Size 12 to 16, 2x long nymph hook
  • Thread: 6/0 black
  • Tail: brown saddle hackle or mallard flank
  • Body: Peacock herl
  • Hackle: Brown saddle hackle
  • Wing: Mallard flank



Fish it dry, fish it wet, or fish as an emerger, the DMc Brown Hackle Peacock, along with my Buzzcut Scud,  live at the top of my freshwater nymph box. When trout are taking emerging nymphs just below the surface, whether they are mayflies, midges or caddis, this is the fly that you want.

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Eleven Mile Carp

Fly fishing the flats for cruising carp

Fly fishing the flats for cruising carp

I like fly fishing flatwater. Not just in spring, when runoff shuts down the rivers, but anytime between ice-off and ice-up. Turn me out on a quiet stretch of shoreline with a fly rod and a box of flies, and I will not bother the rest of the herd for hours.

And I am not fussy about the fish species or the reservoir, any fish that frequents the shorelines in either cold or warm bodies of water will do. I target mountain park reservoirs for large trout, especially during the major insect hatches, and I try to fish the prime times in spring and fall when pike and wipers come within fly range.

However, in June, the events occurring at Eleven Mile Reservoir take precedence over all others. In addition to hit-and-miss fishing for pike, there is sure-fire fishing for carp.

carp_gripCarping the flats at Eleven Mile is all about sight fishing, which I consider the best fishing of all. Here, you stalk the shoreline, scanning the clear water until you spot a carp feeding on the flats. Keeping a low profile, you load the rod, drop a fly in the carp’s path, and twitch it slowly along the bottom. The tension builds as the carp locks in on the fly and moves in for a closer look. If all goes well and the fly passes the inspection, you will see the carp pucker its lips and inhale the fly.

carp_fliesThe best flies I have found for the flats are small crayfish imitations tied with soft and fuzzy materials that “breathe” when worked slowly along the bottom. I prefer to weight them with bead-chain or small lead dumbbell eyes, so the fly rides with the hook up – similar to bonefish patterns. Olives, browns, and burnt orange colors seem to work the best. Other flies that will take carp include those that imitate aquatic insects, especially scuds.

These flies will have more action if you attach them with a loop knot such as the No-Slip Loop Knot.

You will find carp in the shallows along the south shore from the inlet all the way down to Witcher’s Cove. Some locations are better than others are but my favorite stretch is around Howbert Point. The carp will spawn here later, but for now, they are here to feed.



A Boat for Every Belly

The early models were simple devices, consisting of nothing more than a truck inner-tube fitted with a low-slung canvas seat, where upon the angler sat waste-deep in the water and propelled himself backward with a set of swim fins.

Although simple, the modified inner-tube  was a winner. It provided anglers an inexpensive method for getting fishing offshore without the hassles and limitations associated with a convention boat. Nobody appears to know or to care when the inner-tube boat was pressed into fishing service. Within days of its invention would be my guess. Continue reading


canoe0002The simple truths are the hardest to come by.

The canoe, in cultural variations of its basic form, is deeply embedded in ancient civilizations worldwide. Elegant in appearance, graceful in motion, and unsurpassed in simplicity, the canoe has opened up the wilderness of inland waters and the backcountry expanses of coastal estuaries to the adventurous.

In the fishing world, canoes are faster than a float tube, dryer than a kayak, able to transport hundreds of pounds of gear and people, and look good doing it.

Fly rods and canoes are a natural fit.