Each fall, we get excited about “skittering” for trout on our home waters; The Middle Provo River in Utah.
Never heard of skittering?
Maybe you’ve heard it called skating, but I call it skittering because that is a better description of how the fly moves across the water. The skating or skittering fly mimics a caddis as it tries to get off the water and the fish can’t seem to resist.
My fishing buddy, Jim O’Neal introduced me to the skating technique several years ago and it is one of our favorite activities in the fall because when the fish get turn on to it, it is amazing to watch them jump completely out of the water while trying to catch the large flies.
Jim developed a special fly just for this purpose. His fly is extremely delicate and hard to tie. It’s also hard to find the special long rooster hackles which have to be tied with hackles pointing in opposite directions to produce a fly that is very light and can stand off the water as far as possible.
The fly works best when dressed often with Dry fly desiccant so it stays as dry as possible and floats high on the water.
Another hint is to look for calm water at the tail of a pool. Cast the fly out and let it land quietly on the water, then strip it in (try quick and slow) and shake the tip of your rod at the same time.
The technique also works the best after the Sun goes behind the mountains. Our best trip was just after the full moon two years ago. The sky was dark but we could still watch the caddis on the water in the rising moonlight. In fact, looking directly into the moonlight was the only way we could see the fly.
Since the technique works best as it begins to get dark, we can’t really film the technique during the best time to use it.
The video below shows us skittering on the Provo River in later July with Jim’s special “skitter bug” (we couldn’t wait for fall). We had many strikes while it was still light enough to film and Jim catches a nice brown trout, but most fish were caught after it was too dark to film.
Video – Skittering Dry Flies Late in the Evening on the Provo River
Skating or Skittering works best in Fading Light
The reason the technique works best in fading light is because as it gets darker in the water, the fish can see best when they look up towards the sky. This is also why black ants work well in fading light. If everything is dark except a small glow in the sky, a skating caddis or black ant would be very visible against that faint light.
We’ve taken several people skittering with us over the years and I think they would agree that it is one of the most exciting and fun ways to fly fish.
I need to learn how to tie this fly, so we will work on a video to show how Jim ties his special fly. But in the mean time, try skating or skittering other versions of dry caddis or other light dry flies after the Sun goes behind the mountain. We bet you will like what happens.