Karnopp's Keystone - Skwala
Nymphs | Stonefly Nymphs


Karnopp's Keystone - Skwala





Keystones This fly was developed over many years of fishing stonefly nymphs on the Lower Deschutes and Metolius. There was one defining day, however, that changed the way that I tied and fished stonefly nymphs. I was fishing a very productive gravel bar on opening weekend on the Lower D. between Trout Creek and Maupin. I was hooking a few nice trout in the seams and buckets below the shelf, then witnessed a very large redside fining in the shallows. The water was way too swift for a redd, and he was darting back and forth in feeding mode. I took the dropper off my Girdle Bug and threw it above the fish and bounced it down in mere inches of water. The fish inhaled it. He wasn't alone in this behavior, for the next hour I hooked a number of large fish in the swift shallows of that gravel bar. That day I discovered that trout, especially big trout, move into the fast, shallow water just prior to and during the emergences of salmonflies and golden stones and feed on the nymphs as they began their migration towards shore. From then on I started to target this type of water prior to stonefly hatches, and continued to hook fish in places that I wouldn't normally associate with trout holding water. I decided that there was no need for a strike indicator; in fact it impeded the fly's contact with the bottom. Losing flies was just part of the deal, and some days I would go through a dozen girdle bugs. Those were easy enough to tie, but I found that they didn't always fool the smartest fish, especially when fishing the notorious brainiacs on the Metolius. Kaufmann's stones can be effective, but they take way too long to tie to risk losing with this presentation. I started to experiment with an upside-down riding fly and the Keystone was born. Of course, the fly has been tweaked to arrive at the present version. This pattern is the best stonefly nymph that I have ever fished. The golden version changed my nymphing success on the Metolius. The brown version is deadly in the streams of the Rockies where these nymphs are an important food source. The Skwala is more specific but a killer when those are on the menu, awesome on the Bitterroot. It is very easy to tie as well. This has become a favorite big nymph of many of my guide friend's in the west. The fly was featured in Fly Fisherman in the May 2007 issue.