Sea Run Cutthroat Flies

It was good to receive Dave Kilhefner’s email about our upcoming fish-a-long on the Wilson and Trask Rivers for Sea Run Cutthroat Trout. According to some anglers, Sea Run Cutthroats (aka Blue Backs, Harvest Trout, Cutts, or Cutties) are arguably the best overlooked trout fly fishery in the state. So overlooked that even Dave K. says he has never targeted sea run cutthroats! (What a shock! I didn’t think there was a fish species in Oregon that had escaped being searched out by Dave.)

As their name implies, Sea Run Cutthroat trout divide their time between fresh and salt water. Unlike their relatives, the salmon and steelhead, they do not migrate far from their home rivers and return there in late summer, entering the estuaries in July and August, eventually working their way farther upstream. Cutties are aggressive predatory feeders and are known to be eager in going after artificial fly patterns.

I stopped in at The Royal Treatment fly shop looking for flies and sea run cutthroat information. Randy Stetzer, author of the book called “Flies: The Best One Thousand”, told me that you should keep moving if you are not finding fish. If the fish are there they are likely to be going after your fly. They like cover, so be fishing for them around logs, large rocks, root wads, cut banks, and shady areas. Josh Linn put me onto two fly patterns that seem to be on the go to list of many anglers: the Borden Special and the Reverse Spider.

Borden Special (developed in 1961 by Bob Borden, founder of HareLine Dubbin)

Hook: TMC 3761 #4-10, or equivalent 1X long hook
Thread: black 6/0, 8/0
Tail: yellow and pink hackle fibers
Rib: small silver tinsel
Body: hot pink rabbit or synthetic dubbing
Wing: white arctic fox or other suitable white hair
Collar: wraps of saddle hackle or schlappen; hot pink in front of yellow

Tying Instructions for the Borden Special—
Click on the following link to see Jay Nicholas tying his version of the Borden Special.

Reverse Spider (more of a style of fly than one specific fly pattern)

Reverse spider tied with
Lady Amherst tippet
Reverse spider tied with mallard flank

Hook: TMC 3761 #6-10
Thread: color of choice 6/0,8/0
Tail: feather fibers, or no tail at all
Rib: silver tinsel
Body: synthetic or natural dubbing; or chenille; color(s) of choice
Hackle: Lady Amherst pheasant tippet, or mallard flank fibers, or rooster or saddle hackles; color of choice; tied in with the fibers in reverse style, facing forward over the hook eye

Tying Instructions for the Reverse Spider—
Click on the following link to see Washington angler Preston Singletary’s version of a
Reverse Spider using Lady Amherst pheasant tippet:

Click on the following link to see Jay Nicholas tying his version of the Reverse Spider
using saddle hackle:

New club member Keaton Andreas is excited as he looks forward to his first fish-a-long. He forwarded some information to Dave Kilhefner about his experience in August with a guide on the Nestucca River fishing for sea run cutthroats. Keaton indicated that the fishing got better when he fished a reverse spider that was weighted, allowing his fly to get down to the fish. Try to track him down at the fish-a-long because he says he is going to tie up as many as he can and that he is willing to share them with others.

Keaton’s weighted Reverse Spider

Here is Keaton’s recipe for the weighted reverse spider he used:
Hackle: Chartreuse Lady Amherst Tippet
Head: Black Nickel Tungsten Bead
Body: Medium Light Olive Chenille
Tail: Chartreuse Lady Amherst Tippet

For more details about fishing for Sea Run Cutthroat trout check out the following links that Jay Nicholas posted on the Oregon Flyfishing Blog:

Sea Run Cutthroat Primer:

Sea Run Cutthroat Fishing and Behavior:

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