Cuttbow vs. Rainbow vs. Cutthroat

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Cedar, Aug 15, 2012.

  1. Cedar Active Member

    Posts: 214
    South King
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    I have to admit some ignorance when I comes to telling the difference between a cuttbow and a cutthroat. I could probably figure out if the fish was a hybrid if I was dealing with Westslope Cutts but I primarily fish waters with Coastals. I understand that the presence of faint slashes isn't really an indication of a fish being a cutthroat or cuttbow so short of counting gill rakers of something beyond what I am willing to do is there are real way short of guessing is a fish is a hybrid?
  2. Luke77 I hope she likes whitefish

    Posts: 1,529
    Yakima, WA
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    Great question!

    Honestly, I've always just gone off the fact that if they look like a bow, but have slashes, cutbow. If they've got a lot of spots below the lat line, the tell tale red strip down the side, AND slashes near the jaw, it must be a cutbow. I'm sure Smalma or someone of equal proportions will be along to shoot my assessment to shit...of course I usually welcome their insight. So fire away! :D
  3. Go Fish Language, its a virus

    Posts: 1,282
    Rheomode, Wa.
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    That is my belief also.

    Dave
  4. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Posts: 7,136
    Not sure
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    Given the huge amount of individual variation from fish to fish, we're no more likely to be able to identify a cuttbow by simply looking at it than we're able to determine whether someone is an Italian-American by looks alone! Even throat marks aren't a fail-safe identifier as some hybrids don't always have them. I've heard reports of fish that look for all the world like either full-blooded cutts or rainbows, but which only DNA analysis can identify as having markers from the other species and thus hybrids.

    K
  5. Robert Engleheart Robert

    Posts: 1,147
    Lemoore, CA
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    CIMG2239 (Medium).JPG Teeth on the back of the tongue (hyoid) are only found on Cutthroat trout and hybrids should have them. Spot patterns and jaw-slash or lack of are not good evidence. Attached picture of a hybrid is overexposed, but note very few spots on tail and head. None below lateral line and very few on the back. This fish was dime-bright, almost like a big Kokanee.
  6. Bruce Baker Active Member

    Posts: 548
    Olympia, WA
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    Very true Kent. I was involved in a genetics project on coastal cutthroat trout from Washington. The bios were only keeping cutthroat when they were out sampling for the project. After anaylyzing the samples, there were some collections with no hybrids to collections with several hybrids (one hatchery collection was heavily hybridized). Only one "pure" steelhead/rainbow was collected. As far as the hybrids go, I think the collection location within the stream/creek could have played a role in why we got some hybrids. The samples may have come from a transition zone and in one circumstance, it could have been due to the stream/creek not being very accessible or it was very short in length, or a combo. I don't remember.
  7. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,645
    Dillon, Mt
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    So your all saying that you can't tell what it is by just looking at the fish. So if that is that, why do they all say that they caught cuttbows.

    This is just a little confusing.

    To me a fish is a fish. It's either a Cutthroat or a Rainbow. There is no other.
    Kyle Smith likes this.
  8. tediousthumper Hello My name is Thad and Im addicted to flyfishin

    Posts: 465
    Vancouver
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    With varios strains of bows and cutts the visuals change a bit, My general rule of thumb is I usually pay attention to the spotting, and vertical bands example....

    Cutty- Notice the sparce spotting toward the head. Destinct cuttthroat red slash.

    [IMG]

    Cuttbow- Dense spotting toward the head and a destinct vertical band, however a destinct red throat.

    [IMG]

    Rainbow- Dense rainbow spotting toward the head, vertical band. and no red throat.

    [IMG]
  9. Preston Active Member

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    As Kent points out, the variation in coloration and spotting patterns among trout makes it pretty difficult to make an accurate quick identification of rainbow/steelhead versus cutthroat in the field. Along the Pacific coast, west of the coastal mountain ranges, the coastal cutthroat and the rainbow co-evolved and, while hybridization does occasionally occur, it is relatively rare. Since both are spring spawners, the primary method of segregation appears to be reproductive isolation; cutthroat preferring smaller, low-gradient streams while rainbow/steelhead choose larger waters.

    In the intermountain west (outside of the Columbia River drainage), where rainbows are not native, their introduction has led to the generation of "hybrid swarms" of crosses between introduced rainbows and the various native subspecies of cutthroat, leadng eventually to domination by the rainbows and extirpation of the cutthroat strains.

    The most reliable key to identification is, as noted above, the existence of basibranchial (formerly hyoid) teeth on the back of the tongue. Particularly among sea-run coastal cutthroat, the "cutthroat slash" is a very unreliable indicator; depending, as it does, on sexual maturity and/or length of residence in fresh water. To add to the confusion, interior rainbows (redbands) not uncommonly show yellow to orange slash marks.

    Here are a few pictures of sea-run cutthroat, all caught in fresh water, showing showing slashes or the lack thereof. Note also, the wide variation in spotting pattern, spot size and general coloration. DSCF0070.JPG DSCF0076.JPG DSCF0217.JPG DSCF0227-001.JPG
  10. ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    Posts: 3,209
    Eagle River, Alaska
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    Cutties are cool, and I think more hybredization between coastals and steelhead/rainbows happens than people think. First off Coastal cutts look a lot like westslopeXrainbows this makes me think that the evolution of the coastal cutt is influenced by rainbow genetics. Also I've found the coloration of cutts in systems with rainbows to be highly variable, leading me to believe hibredization occurs fairly regularly. I could be full of shit and totally wrong as there's no science to back these thoughts up, just looking at the fish and hanging out with biologists. At any rate here are some pics

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    [IMG]

    love cutts...
  11. Cruik Active Member

    Posts: 459
    Seattle, WA
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    Beautiful Cutts. I agree though, sometimes there aren't throat slashes or that yellowish cutty coloring. What do you guys think of this fish? It was caught in a Puget Sound Stream in September. I immediately thought it was a rainbow, but the more I think about it I'm not sure. It definitely has a more stream resident look to it, but I also wouldn't be surprised if it was a sea-run that stuck around after the spawn and regained more resident type coloring. It was about 19" and the sleekness just makes me think it spent some time in saltwater, but the lack of any yellowish coloring makes me think it can't be a cutty. No slashes, and I didn't check for hyoid teeth. It's not the cedar, by the way. IMGP0363-1.JPG IMGP0364.JPG
  12. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Posts: 7,136
    Not sure
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    Nice fish, but looks alone are no indication of whether it has any CCT DNA. Unless you checked for basibranchial teeth or took a DNA sample, there's absolutely no way to tell for sure whether it's a pure RB or a CCT x RB hybrid.

    K
  13. McNasty Canyon Lurker

    Posts: 1,046
    Somewhere Near Selah, WA
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    omg i hate you guys. . . sitting here sick looking at all these pics is drivin me nuts. heres what i do believe is a cuttbow from a day before my fever set in. some of the biggest spots ive ever seen on a fish this size and though you cant see in the pic some of the biggest reddest slashes as well for a fish this size. IM000481.JPG
  14. Preston Active Member

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    According to Behnke, the cutthroat and rainbow both derived from a common ancestor and the two began to diverge at the end of the Pliocene epoch about two million years ago. Curt Kramer is of the opinion that the very rare, very large sea-run cutthroat, say one over about 23 inches, may be a coastal cutthroat/steelhead hybrid. I'm going to go out on a limb and conjecture that the coastal cutthroat is probably the original cutthroat subspecies, the other subspecies having evolved after becoming geographically isolated. Here are a couple of pictures, one of a westslope and one of a cuttbow, both from the Yakima River.

    Attached Files:

  15. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,645
    Dillon, Mt
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    You all ought to be happy to be alive and catching and releasing these fish. Why worry what it is. If I was to worry about what species I was catching, I probably wouldn't go fishing.

    And being that I'm here in Montana, I get to catch Grayling, Cutthroat, Rainbows, Browns, and Eastern Brook Trout. To do that all in one day I'd have to do a bit of traveling.

    I also read the there is a cross between a Bull/Dolly and a EBT. So have fun with what you catch.
  16. Freestone Not to be confused with freestoneangler

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    Preston, I see a fair number of large cutbows over here at certain times of the year, or at least ones that appear to be. Sometimes, they look more cutthroat-like and others look more like a rainbow/steelhead. I didn't even notice the slash on this one until I viewed the pics.

    [IMG]
    [IMG]
    McNasty likes this.
  17. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    Not sure
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    Sue, on first glance and going by looks alone, your magnificent fish looks for all the world like a big brown trout. Great example of the fallacy - especially to new anglers - of trying to judge a book by its cover.

    K
  18. Mike Munro Member

    Posts: 67
    Bellevue, WA
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    Sweet Jeebus, there's some pretty fish in this thread! It's turning into the Art Gallery of Trout!

    I'm confused about the vertical band that was mentioned earlier. Can someone fill me in?
  19. ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    Posts: 3,209
    Eagle River, Alaska
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    that looks like a steelhead thats been in the stream for a while.
  20. Old Man Just an Old Man

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    Dillon, Mt
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    The spots are all wrong. No Red ones with light halo's. It's just a big cutthroat.`