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2010/4/12 21:57
From Downingtown
Posts: 16
Maybe a stupid question, but I have heard a few people make reference to skittering a dry fly. What does this mean? Is it simply shaking it a bit to show movement? Is there a good technique to do this? Thanks in advance.

Posted on: 2010/7/23 23:38

Re: Skittering
2006/9/11 8:26
From Chester County
Posts: 2841

Atlas wrote:
Maybe a stupid question, but I have heard a few people make reference to skittering a dry fly. What does this mean? Is it simply shaking it a bit to show movement? Is there a good technique to do this? Thanks in advance.

First of all skittering a fly works best with flies that ride high on the surface. I well hackled Catskill tie (see below) works well for this, while a parachute fly (see below) rides low in the water with the bend of the hook below the surface. Imitating caddis, which are often times very active on the water when laying eggs can be productive, and an Elk Hair Caddis (see below) is a great fly for skittering because it rides on the hackle.

One way to skitter is to cast quartering downstream, when the fly lands, lift you rod high keeping the line and most of the leader out of the water and skitter and skate the fly on across the current. If you leader sinks, it helps to apply floatant to the leader to keep it afloat.

When covering a rising fish, moving your fly when it’s just above the riser works at times. Most often a down and across cast works best for this.

As far as setting the hook on the strike, it is often best to delay striking and allow the fish to turn down with the fly in it’s mouth when fishing downstream, since the fish is facing you in that situation.

One last thing, less is more; a slight movement works much better than ripping your fly at high speed across the stream. Good fishing.

Attach file:

jpg  Catskill.JPG (140.53 KB)
53_4c4acb656ca9b.jpg 640X480 px

jpg  Parachute.jpg (120.04 KB)
53_4c4acb75e8256.jpg 640X480 px

jpg  Elk Hair Caddis.JPG (157.83 KB)
53_4c4acb7d93442.jpg 640X480 px

Posted on: 2010/7/24 7:16

Re: Skittering
2006/9/13 12:42
From Altoona, PA
Posts: 16
Afish gives some great advice.

To add a bit, I find less is more. I'll always start out with the quartering downstream presentation and simply hold the line up off the water. The fly will swing, but I don't put any other action on it.

After a while, if that doesn't work, you can jiggle the rod tip. And then try small strips to bring the fly upstream.

It's so easy to overdo those actions though, that I would hold off on them until you're desperate. Or if you see naturals on the water and you can watch how they are behaving. If you can imitate them, go for it. But keep a light hand.

And what Afish says about delaying the strike is absolutely true. I've met some good fly fishers who avoid downstream dry fly presentations because setting the hook is so hard. You have to really force yourself to delay. I'd suggest bowing the rod tip to the strike and then when you see the trout's back, set the hook. Use a line strip to set the hook, rather than the rod.

Posted on: 2010/7/24 7:32
Never challenge a cat to a staring contest

Re: Skittering

2010/4/12 21:57
From Downingtown
Posts: 16
Afish and Padraic - Thanks for the explanation and the advice! I think I get it now, now to do it in practice......

Posted on: 2010/7/24 15:15

Re: Skittering

2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 2367
Yes, skittering basically means putting a little movement on it. i.e. dragging it across the surface to mimic naturals, typically egg laying caddis. I've just begun to use this technique more and more and I'm amazed how well it works in some situations.

The advice about a light hand was good advice. I skitter it 6 inches to a foot, then let it drift, then skitter again. If you can locate the fish, great! Cast well upstream and beyond the fish, and skitter-stop-skitter-stop till its into place. Finally when its just upstream in his strike zone, let it drift. Often seeing it skitter, and then at rest right where he wants it induces a strike.

It's also a good way to work the edges sometimes. Areas where the edge of the stream has rocks and the fish are occasional risers right in that slower water on the edge. I'll stand well upstream and cast to the bank, sometimes on the bank! Then slowly skitter into that slack water. An inch, drift, an inch, drift, and he either hits it or the fly reaches the main current and starts to truly drag.

Have a high floating dry and keep your leader off the water, you want direct contact with the fly, not the current dragging your line. More of a lift of the rod, like you're trying to lift the fly in the air. I generally move it across current, but again, only short skitters with pauses, I think thats important. The skitter draws their attention, but they almost always hit on a pause.

Posted on: 2010/7/26 16:54

Re: Skittering

2006/9/15 19:12
From Denver, Colorado
Posts: 11
I always skitter too fast and have too much fly line on the water. Keeping the fly off the water and greasing the leader is great advise.


Posted on: 2010/7/26 23:06
Lost Time is Never Found Again....

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