Every day on the water the subject comes up; “Gosh Captain, You are all that is man!” After a short discussion on wrestling grizzlies, saving small children from fires, and how to street fight an army of ninjas, we pick up and go back to fishing. However, the other subject that gets brought up often is fly choice. “What made you pick this fly for this spot.” I tend to have a quite a few different reasons for the flies I choose. So next time you open your fly box, think about these three things.
The number one thing I consider when choosing a fly, is profile. The profile of the fly as it travels through the water is the first thing cutthroat see. The way is holds a silhouette, pushes water, and moves all go into this factor. For the most part, I want the profile to fit multiple baitfish to add versatility. To do this, I try to fit it somewhere between a herring and a sandlance in size and shape. I like the fly to move freely in the water like a baitfish as well, so we tie all of our baitfish with a loop knot.
Fly choice also comes back to having the right amount of weight. I almost never choose a baitfish that is unweighted. Not that I always add a ton of weight, I want just enough that if my clients are slow retrieving the line, the fly will dive between strips a bit. But rarely enough that it will effect the casting of the fly. I do this with either soft weight added to the shank, or a bead tied into the fly. When I do add more weight, it is usually in a larger bead hidden in the fly to get the fly to drop a bit more in the summer time. Clouser style flies are rarely in my arsenal, I don’t care for the profile, and typically the weight factor is not an issue.
There are a few things to consider when thinking about color. If it is super bright we can go a bit darker and not worry about losing the fly to the light. As the light goes down (early spring, late fall, winter) I tend to fish brighter flies. In the summer I fish a lot of dark olives, dark grey, and greens. On the shoulder seasons and winter I fish a lot of chartreuse, light olives, teal, peach and yellows. The next thing to think about is what all of the baitfish have in common in Puget Sound. All of our baitfish for the most part have a white belly, darker back and silver highlights. The other details we can add is that most of our baitfish have eyes that stand out. So adding some sort of eye to your fly will finish them off pretty darn well.
These are just a few factors when considering what fly to use when fishing for Sea Run Cutthroat. Our fishery is impossibly diverse and consistently changing every day, so there are tons of other opinions and “right” choices to make. I hope this will help you next time you are thinking about fly choice on puget sound.