Scuds are a favorite food source for trout, and they’re found in most bodies of water, pretty much year round. Fish really seem to key in on them during early mornings and overcast days. Here’s a quick and easy version of a scud that works remarkably well.
I’m going to start with a Dai-Riki #125, size 16 emerger hook. Once you get the barb mashed, secure the hook in your tying vise at a steep angle. You’ll see why in just a minute.
Load a bobbin with orange thread, the brighter the better. Here, UTC 70 Denier in fluorescent orange. Get your thread started on the hook shank about halfway into the bend and take a few wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag.
Select a single wood duck flank feather with nice long fibers and good solid markings. Strip off most of the lower fuzzy fibers and, while keeping the tips roughly aligned, pull down 20 or so from one side of the stem, then strip them free. With your tying scissors, cut the very butt ends off square. The idea is to keep the fibers as long as possible. Then, get hold of them just behind their tips.
Place them horizontally at the tie-in point so they extend about a hook gap back. These will represent the scud’s antennae and forward feelers. With a pinch wrap, begin securing them to the hook shank. You can see why it’s easier to do this with the hook at an angle. Keep taking touching wraps toward the hook eye then get hold of the hook and reorient it to a more normal position in your tying vise. With this done, continue wrapping forward to bind the wood duck to the shank. Leave just a small amount of bare hook behind the eye. Then take thread wraps rearward to about the hook point.
Small gold Ultra wire is used to rib the fly, 6-7 inches is enough to make several scuds. Secure the wire to the near side of the hook and allow thread torque to carry it to the far side as you wrap. Go all the way down to the start of the wood duck and then back up to the hook point.
Although you can use a variety of dubbing materials for the body, I like the shimmer and translucency of a dedicated sow or scud dubbing, and smoky olive is a great color. Pull a small amount of dubbing free from the dispenser or packet and dub about a 4 inch noodle on your tying thread. It should be thicker in the middle and gently tapered at both ends. Start taking wraps so the dubbing begins right at the base of the antennae. Continue taking wraps to build up the body all the way to the start of the wood duck at the front of the fly. Once there, lift the butts up and take a wrap or two around just the hook shank in front of them.
Pass the wire under the hook shank so as not to disturb the antennae. Pull the butt ends of the wood duck back over top of the dubbed body and then, with the wire, take a good solid securing wrap like so. Once you’ve got the fibers pinned down, continue taking open spiral wraps to segment and compress the body. When you reach the tying thread, take 3 or 4 tight wraps to anchor the wire and then, using your bobbin nozzle as a brace, helicopter to break the wire off close.
You can then do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish and snip or cut your tying thread free. Reach in with your scissors, and being careful not to snip off the antennae, trim the wood duck butts leaving a short length behind the first wrap of wire.
To help with durability, I like to apply plain old Sally Hansen’s to the wood duck fibers and the thread wraps and allow it to sink in and dry for a minute or two. The next step is to brush out the dubbing on the underside of the hook shank to form the scud’s legs and feelers. If a little strip of velcro isn’t doing it for you, try going old school and picking it out with a dubbing needle, which works remarkably well. With your tying scissors, snip off the extra long fibers using an imaginary line between the hook eye and the point as a guide.
Once you get rolling, the Wood Duck Scud is a nice quick, easy tie, it also happens to be a tremendous fish producer.