8 lb. tippet and sea-run cutthroat "friendly" net

Recent posts have shown a lot of interest in sea-run cutthroat and the need to be "gentle"/minimize impacts to this wild fisheries. As such, a couple of thoughts come to mind for landing and releasing these "fragile" fish.

1. Use of 8 lb. tippet will allow you to put some "muscle" to the rod(preferably 6 wt.) to bring a sea-run cutthroat in quickly so that it will not totally exhaust itself. Sea-run cutthroat and salmon are not leader shy so why go to a lighter tippet plus a heavier tippet will turn over a heavy/bulky fly better. Maybe even 10 lb. tippet?

2. I have never liked using a net for landing sea-run cutthroat but I have changed my "tune". Before, I would use the "grab" the leader and "grab" the hook technique and then back the hook out while leaving the fish in the water. If the fish started twisting/turning, it could make for a "difficult" removal "operation".

Last summer I started using a heavy mesh Cummings rubber landing net(18" wide opening, 9" deep, 12" wide bottom, 30" handle) and have been thrilled how well it has worked. After netting a fish, I raise the net up until the fish is about 1-2" below the water surface. Since the net has a circular flat bottom, a sea-run cutthroat will normally have enough room to gently move about. Probably 75% of the time, in a couple of seconds or sooner the hook will fall out and the fish can be released without ever touching it or the hook. If the hook doesn't fall out, I will again raise the net so that 1" or less of a fish's back or side is out of the water(with the bottom of the net gently cradling the fish) and remove the fly with my fingers or as a last resort forceps. I don't remember ever having to "grab" a fish with my hands using this net.

What are your experiences/thoughts with Cummings and other types of rubber mesh nets for minimizing stress/handling to sea-run cutthroat when releasing them?



Active Member
Tippet idea is a good suggestion....I usually use a 6.4 lb...which is plenty strong but 8 would be better. I have usually been able just to grab top of fly hook and pull out the fly...never touching the guy or gale and keeping them in water ...now every once in awhile ..... they fight and squirm so much that I need to hold them to release hook...but seldom. I generally don't use nets...except when in floating devices. It will be interesting to see what others have to say regarding the net thing.


Doesn't care how you fish Moderator
I ues 8 or 10 pound regularly. Sometimes 13 and 15 pound flouro. I use a ketchum release tool, so I dont even touch the fish. Maybe take a picture and then slide the ketchum tool done to the fly and turn and the fish is gone.
I rarely use any thing less then 10 LBS in Puget Sound because you just never know what will grab you fly. the first time you hook a 10 LBS or bigger Salmon while fishing for Sea Run Cutts or Flounder you will under stand this well. As for nets I have to use them when fishing from my 18 foot boat but only rarely from the kayak and never have need it when fishing from the beach.

Dale Dennis

Formally Double-D
I will typically use a 6# tippet if I know there are salmon around then I will move up to 8 or 10#. I primairly use a boat to fish searuns so I too use a net (measure net) and a ketchum release this allows very little handling if any and it gives me a rough estimate of size. At the end of the day I will enter all information into a log.


Active Member
Let's face it our sea-run cutthroat are not large fish or for that matter the strongest fighters. "Proper" handling of them is less about the size of tippet and more about a willingness to take the fight to the fish and land it without unnecessarily over playing the fish. It has been my observation that quickly playing of a cutthroat (or any trout) is less about the size of the tippet and more about the fishing playing skills of the angler. For sure some anglers would be more willing to put some "heat" on the fish with heavier tippets but it is not really necessary.

For the record when in the boat I have used a knotless net for more than 15 years and barbless flies for more than 30 years. While 8# tippet is my general go to tippet for most larger anadromous fish I typcially use 6# for most cutthroat fishing and occassionally will drop smaller for special situations (typcially freshwater situations requiring smaller flies). I can not remember the last time a sea-run cutthroat or bull trout required reviving upon landing. I would say that if you find that you need to revive fish you either are fishing too light or need to improve your fish fighting/handling skills.

Tight lines

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
I like 6lb or 3X for searun cutts off the beaches, anywhere from 4lb to 6lb or 4X in the estuaries/tidal streams when fishing wets or streamers from my canoe or mini-drifter, and will go to 5X when fishing dries down to size 14 in the rivers and upper tidewater areas of streams.
I use a rubber mesh net from a boat, but don't like to carry one on the beach. I do need to get a larger rubber mesh net that will work for steelhead and salmon and larger trout in lakes.

Once, in a small stream at about the head of tidewater, I had a nice fresh searun about 13" expire on me after a hard but brief fight, even after bringing it in quickly...it was late August and the water was getting a little warm. I tried my best to revive it, but found it later floating belly up. After that, I quit fishing the low water streams until it rained and we had a few days of marine air/overcast and the water cooled off a bit.

So we have to be aware of the late Summer water temps as well when we go after them when they begin moving into the streams and are holding in the pools near the upper reaches of tidewater.



Well-Known Member
Wow! Heavier leader tippets than I use for steelhead! I use 4# or 6# Maxima tippets when fishing cutthroats, mostly in freshwater, only a couple times in the salt. They ain't that frisky! I agree with Smalma, a little fish playing skill is more correlated to landing a cutthroat, or most other fish in my experience, than leader strength. Play them with authority, bring 'em in, grab the fly, twist it out, and the cutty swims away untouched by human hands. It ain't rocket science.


Salmo g.
When I take people out popper fishing for the first time, they almost always strike the fish rather than strip set or wait for the fish to turn. So, I have them use a two-handed strip because it's nearly impossible to set. And since there is now a straight connection between them and the fly with no rod to absorb the shock, I usually tie on 0X or 1X tippet - don't want any searuns swimming around with my poppers hangin' outta there jaws!

Leland. (Sorry I'm on someone else's computer)
Great info, I was wondering what the preferred tippet size was for coastal cutthroats. This will be the first time I have tossed a fly to them. When I was younger I would spin for them. 8 lb. is the same size I used for the early silvers. I switched to 10 lb. when the fish seem to get larger in September. I will look into one of those rubber nets for the boat. Sounds like a good idea.:rolleyes: