I have included the recipe I sent to Solitude when they started commercially tying my Ska-opper. A couple points of interest:
Run with the pattern - I do. As with most patterns, don't let the specifics box you in. The natural does end up being my "go to" under most circumstances but I play with all different colors patterns. I fish a black one a lot and even have one with an orange body and white legs that I like. I have friends that all have their own take on the pattern and they seem to have at least as much success as I do.
It is the mechanics behind its design that is important. Many people outside of Southern Oregon don't realize this fly was originally designed to be popped/twitched as it is skated. Check out the vid on the home page of my web site to see it in action www.scotthowellfishing.com
. Over time, the fly has gained popularity as a simple skater. The deer hair/foam body are nearly impossible to sink. The bill also pulls the fly to the surface as tension comes on the bug. Skates like a dream - no hitch needed. A matter of fact, I fish the fly with a loop knot. The "truer" the fly rides the better it fishes. It is the design of the fly that makes it skate and pop. Thus, the Ska-opper name.
One other thing - over the years, I have just started substituting a yarn (burnt orange) for the spun deer hair body. When guiding everyday, managing your time is a necessity. This substitution can save me 5-10 minutes a fly. Spinning the body and trimming around the legs is the most time consuming part of the fly. Just the foam back alone seems to float the fly in most cases and since I fish the fly under tension it still skates perfectly.
Last thing - the Ska-oppers I fish tend to be little smaller silhouette than the commercially tied ones. My bodies are trimmed down a bit more. The fly ends up having a thinner silhouette than the potato shaped bugs that can come out of the box. I know a lot of people that customize the ones they buy in the shop by trimming down the body and bill some. If the bill is too long it puts the fly out of balance and can end up acting more like a "diving" bill. In defense of Solitude, they have seemed to catch on to this and the commercially tied ones look better and better all the time.
SKOPPER - NATURAL:
Size 2 & 4 Tiemco 7999
Gold mylar tinsel
Lime crystal mirror flash
Natural deer body hair
Orange rubber legs
White deer body hair
1. Start by wrapping a gold mylar tinsel tag.
2. Tie in a small clump of lime crystal mirror flash for a tail. I like a fairly long tail about a 1/ 2 “ long. I also add a very small clump (20 guard hairs or so) of orange polar bear that is nearly the length of the flash.
3. Then wrap a short length of orange yarn for a butt.
4. At this point I tie in a long triangular shaped piece of brown foam. Tie it in backwards so that when you fold it forward towards the hooks eye it is long to still leave a popper lip. Too long is OK. You can always cut it to the right length once the fly is finished.
5. Directly in front of the foam spin two clumps of deer body hair. Push the spun clumps clumps together to ensure a tight deer hair body.
6. Then tie in the first set of orange rubber legs.
7. Then spin in another 4 clumps of of deer hair, being sure to push them back tight against each other ( number of clumps may vary with tier and size of clumps).
8. In front of this spun deer hair, tie in the second set of orange rubber legs.
9. I spin in one more clump of deer hair before removing the hook from the vice and shaping the body. I trim the back of the body flat so that the foam will lay over it nice.
10. After shaping the body, I wrap a guinea hackle in front of it. I shape the body first because it is easier to cut the deer hair without these hackles in the way.
11. Once the guinea is tied in, I spin in a couple more clumps of deer hair to complete the body.
12. I do stack in an optional clump of white deer hair on the bottom of the fly right near the eye of the hook. This makes a white spot underneath the head of the fly.
13. The final step is to pull the foam over the back of the hook and tie it down near the eye of the hook to make the popping lip. It can help to pull the bill back and build up some thread ahead of the eye. This can help prop the bill up a bit.
14. I then clean the fly up by cutting the tail, legs, and lip to the proper length.