Searun cutthroat


My name is Mark Oberg
Searun cutthroat Flies. I'm looking for some patterns that work. I have some people coming down that want to get some here on a local river. I haven't really ever targeted them as I am after the metalheads and salmon. Any help would be appreciated. Ya, Im probably in the wrong forum. But I'm looking for the most traffic. please post picts. Thanks.

Ed Call

Long Lost Member
WFF Supporter
Check out the cuthroat goodness here. Rivers or salt, these flies are with me always on cutthroat outings. Recently a new aquaintence and guide told me that Mike Kinney likes his reverse spiders with short stout tapered bodies. I don't know Mike, but hope to meet him, but I know that we brought our share of cutties in the Sky to hand on flies found in this swap. I'm not much of a fly tier, but I find these simple enough and effective. The quick short stripping retrieve emparts a tremendoudly irresistable action. Have a great trip.

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
What Mumbles said (never thought I'd be saying that!:rofl:) I like Reversed Spiders with orange bodies. I also use medium "Polar Shrimp" New Age Chenille for bodies, with natural mallard flank for the hackle. Size 6 or 8. Pheasant tippets for hackle and tail also are popular. Amhearst tippets with the black bodied versions.
Check out Les' book.
Also, if you miss strikes and put a cutt down, try again later with a different pattern, usually smaller, like a green soft hackle.
A green-butted orange soft hackle worked wonders for me one day.
I had the best dry action for them one day with an orange #12 Montana Bucktail.

If you are in the upper tidewater area, fish the outgoing tide after it starts running out. If you are fishing the incoming tide, fish the fringe of the lip. If you are upstream of tidewater, then you'd better go to Doug Rose's blog and read his new post on Equinox Cutthroat.:thumb:


Active Member
Over the years there have been many flies designed to catch sea-run cutthroat. One of the first to really catch on was Al Knudson's Yellow Spider; originally tied for steelhead on the Umpqua, Al brought it north with him when he moved to Everett and it is currently tied in many more different colors (olive, black, true orange, hot orange). The Dead Chicken was common, a simple pattern (red hackle-fiber tail, yellow chenille body, silver tinsel rib and a couple of turns of grizzly hackle) it is still effective. The Spruce was used in Oregon by Bert and Milo Godfrey as early as 1919 and is always a good choice. Mike Kinney's Reverse Spider in a wide variety of colors and hackles was a real breakthrough and I wouldn't be without it; my favorite is probably an orange-bodied, mallard flank-dyed-wood duck hackled version. All of these patterns can be fished on a floating line though, at times, a sinking line can be more effective.

As the season wears on, dries come into their own and cutthroat will sometimes feed quite selectively on craneflies, October Caddis and blue winged olives. Western Washington offers few angling thrills to compare with having a big cutthroat sip down a size 20 BWO.
I can't say they it is my favorite but I was out Sunday at a site with 4 other friends. After using a wet fly for a couple hours without any takes I switched to one of Lelands Poppers and wow. After two casts a nice plump SRC smashed this fly. I later took another one on the popper. I might note that my friends came up empty. I need to tie a few more of them. I'm afraid to use the one I bought from Leland. Expensive.


Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Warning! General ramblings follow:
You guys from up in Puget Sound realize that we out here on the coast are fishing creeks and rivers near the head of tidewater and also the freshwater above it. This isn't the same as fishing off the beaches in the Sound or Canal. Our estuaries are mainly mudflats with mud banks and a lot of mud everywhere, and we usually fish the upper tidal reaches of creek and river mouths, and above, where the banks steepen and begin to have more vegetation and tree cover along them. I always say that its useless to begin fishing for cutts here until we get above the tidal marsh to where the bank is lined with trees. So we need different patterns.
We mainly use river patterns out here. Saltwater worm, shrimp, euphasid, baitfish (such as sandlance) and other beach fishing patterns aren't as effective once you get above the estuary, although sculpin patterns work great.

The Reversed Spider is a great pattern for the upper estuaries and upper tidewater areas of streams here. Excellent "frog water" pattern. Maybe the best. Maybe because it looks either like so many things, or nothing in particular at all.

If you are in a boat and fishing the incoming tide, try and be on the fringe of the tide and look for any signs of fish. If you happen upon a fresh pod of cutts, they will likely either be actively feeding on something or moving upstream. If they are feeding, cast to them right away. But if you observe that it is the later case, try to get above them, using all your stealthiness, and then set up and fish to them as they approach and go by.
I like to use a full sink clear intermediate when fishing reversed spiders or streamers near high tide. When the tide has dropped some, I'll switch to a clear int. sinktip. The water in pools near the head of tidewater is often roily or cedar stained, with visibility only about 4 feet. So I go down to the fish if the water is more than 4 feet deep.
Toward low tide, or if you are hiking/wading upstream above tidewater where the water is often clearer, a dry line is all you need, although that sinktip can get you down in the deeper pools. Sometimes I don't use a dry line unless I'm fishing dry files, but just keep my clear sinktip on and fish Reversed Spiders and soft hackles.
If I see surface feeding activity, I'll go to a dry line and try to match what they are eating. If its tiny, barely visible gnats they're snackin' on, I'll just try that orange Montana Bucktail or an orange stimulator or something.
In the upper tide-affected zone (area around the head of tidewater at high tide), once the tide has dropped a bit to where there is more current and the pools are draining of tidewater, it is easier to find the cutts, as they will more likely be holding in their hiding or feeding locations.
I will fish upstream as far as I can on the incoming tide, and then fish the outgoing until dusk or low tide (whichever comes first).
It is easy to spook the fish in the smaller streams and tidal creeks, so be stealthy. Fresh-in searun cutts may appear dumb, but they wise up very quickly once fished over.
Upstream, if any salmon have made it in, then an egg pattern under an indicator or large Stimi will work, if you like indicator fishing.
Swing a soft hackle thru a tailout!
I need to whip up a couple more Reversed Spiders go fishing. Its drizzling here now, my ticket to bail on work plans.

Dale Dennis

Formally Double-D
Thanks for the historical significance of the spider Preston you have a wealth of knowledge and Al certainly deserves the recognition of probably the most famous of all cutthroat fly patterns that exists today. We have been talking about who would be added to the Stilly Monument next and I think Al is a great candidate.

On a side note: I was looking forward to hooking up with you this last Sunday for some cutt fishing, sorry it didn’t work out, hopefully another time.


I consistently fish a handful of patterns that yield good results. Starting about this time of year an orange bodied Knudsen Spider is the one I'd hate to be without. I agree with Jim that this is likley most effective in estuaries and freshwater, but I've had double digit days on the same beaches I fish with poppers and clousers at other times of the year. Buy if you can find them. Find someone to tie them if you can't. The egg dart is another good pattern with similar charateristcs but usually a bit more muted in coloration.


Ignored Member
WFF Supporter
Royal coachman is another great cutthroat fly although it seems it is not used by many today.

Be Jofus G

I would definatly have these in my box

Orange/Brown stimulator

Orange / yellow reverse spider

Black / white reverse spider

Brown spun hair head matuka style sculpins.

Spruce, traditional color

October caddis drys

green bunny leech

black bunny leech


My name is Mark Oberg
Awsum. I gained a lot of knowledge here. I was in the wrong direction. Thanks again,Glad I asked.

SeaRun Fanatic

Active Member
Royal Coachman bucktail!!!

My top producing fly in many years of fishing cutts. I consider it pretty much interchangeable with the Spruce, but a little more durable for those eager-fish-under-every-log mornings. Personally I don't have a ton of experience with the Reverse Spider (due to my cranky determination to stick with what I know), even though the pattern has been in my box since its inception, but it is no question a great producer in deep frog water... I don't think anything will bring fish up from deeper. I prefer the original black/white with mallard, not Lady Amherst. I also have recently become very fond of October Caddis (pretty much AKA orange stimulator) with rubber legs for a little extra wiggle. ;)

Oh yeah... the "sunrise" series too, especially Skykomish Sunrise will almost always produce.

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