cutthroat or rainbow?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Rory McMahon, Sep 13, 2007.

  1. Rory McMahon

    Rory McMahon Active Member

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    This seems like a little bit of a noob question, i realized the other day that I have really never learned how to tell the difference between a rainbow and cutthroat(coastal, not westslope). Ive just always known what the fishery held, either rainbow or cutthroat, and if it held both i would just look for the slash mark, if there was a slash, it would be a cutt, if there wasn't, i i would think it was a rainbow. I know that not all cutthroat have slash marks, so im asking other ways to tell them apart, i figured you can tell by the coloring, or if there's any other ways to tell them apart.
     
  2. Capt. Awesome

    Capt. Awesome Member

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    As far as cosmetics Coastal Cutties usually have denser spotting.

    But the tried and true is the following two:

    1. Cutts have different mouths. The mouth of the cutthroat extends past the eye (Which happens to be one of the differences between smallmouth and largemouth bass btw).

    2. Cutthroat have teeth on their tongue whereas rainbows do not.
     
  3. Preston

    Preston Active Member

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    I don't think I've ever seen a cutthroat, even in salt water, that completely lacked the slash marks. Sometimes they are only a very pale orange or pink in color, scarcely noticeable but there if you look carefully. The basibranchial (formerly hyoid) teeth form a small triangular patch at the back of the tongue and can easily be felt with the fingertip. These teeth do occur in cutthroat/rainbow hybrids as well but are usually reduced.

    Colors and spotting patterns are not always absolute indicators since both may vary considerably but, generally speaking, the cutthroat will have more and finer spots, covering more of its body, sometimes even occuring at the base of the pelvic fins. Even in salt water, cutthroat show a light brassy coloration that gradually increases as sexual maturity approaches. It becomes quite noticeable in mature fish by the time they have entered the rivers.
     
  4. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

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    cutts have longer mouths, more and denser spots, and usually no red stripe.

    cutt:
    [​IMG]
    note how there are spots everywhere including the face and gill plates also note the long mouth... Heres another fish look at its mouth (I think this is a hen so the mouth is a bit smaller)
    again look at the spots
    [​IMG]
    Heres a rainbow, look at the shorter mouth and note how the spots get very irregular forward of the gill
    [​IMG]
     
  5. WT

    WT Active Member

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    NOT a stupid question. This is turning into a great thread.
    Based on what we think we know what species is this trout?

    [​IMG]

    WT
     
  6. pcknshvl

    pcknshvl Member

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    Okay, I'll ring in....

    A Redband Trout--a (sub?)species of rainbow. I hear from Preston and others that the redbands, such as those found in the Yakima, will have the slash marks, though they are not cutthroat. Often mistaken for "cuttbows."
     
  7. obiwankanobi

    obiwankanobi Active Member

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    I second pcknshvl's identification. I know a guide that mentioned the same thing.
     
  8. Milt Roe

    Milt Roe Active Member

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    Resident rainbows on the Yukon delta often have very pronounced red slashes on their jaw, and their mouths extend past the eye - much larger mouths than their southern cousins. Dense spots cover every inch, even inside of the eye. Not always easy to develop simple criteria to separate closely related species...
     
  9. Woodstock

    Woodstock New Member

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    To know for sure, forget coloration and check for the teeth on the tongue (vomerine teeth): cutthroats have em; rainbows don't.
     
  10. WT

    WT Active Member

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    That fish didn't have tongue.
    WT
     
  11. Preston

    Preston Active Member

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    In vertebrates, the vomerine bone is a bone in the skull; in fish it is located in what we would think of as the roof of the mouth. I believe what you are referring to are basibranchial teeth which were formerly known as hyoid teeth and which can be found in a small triangular patch toward the back of the cutthroat's tongue.
     
  12. Rory McMahon

    Rory McMahon Active Member

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    thanks for all your answers, this brings me to a similar question. Is there a way to tell a steelhead/salmon smolt from a trout.
     
  13. Nick Riggs

    Nick Riggs I've been known to fish from time to time...

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    Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I thought there technically isn't a difference between a steelhead smolt and a rainbow trout because they're the same thing only one of them is anadromous.
     
  14. BDD

    BDD Active Member

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    The scientific articles I have read suggest that rainbows can have steelhead offspring and vice versa. Assuming that is true, I wonder why the mid-Columbia steelhead recovery doesn't provide protection to rainbow trout?
     
  15. Nick Riggs

    Nick Riggs I've been known to fish from time to time...

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    Yep, they're the same species. Same scientific name and everything.