When I first learned about Sea Run Cutthroat I was instantly intrigued with the fish. Where they lived, how we fish them, and how beautiful and powerful these trout are. The Marine environment was so foreign from any other trout I had ever caught before. As I grew more obsessed with these fish I fell in love with their flies and the diet. I started tying every baitfish Puget Sound, termites, gurglers, squid, and eventually the worm. Everything from Tarpon to bluegill eat worms, Yellowstone trout, to Florida jacks. The aquatic worm is one of the most prolific and under fished food sources in any marine environment.
One of the most under utilized options for Sea Run Cutthroat are worm patterns. In the winter, particularly on the larger moon phases, we get magnificent hatches of these creepy bastards. Today they are about 2-3″ long, and about as wide as angel-hair noodles. If you watch them they are in constant movement all over the shallow bays. In the summer during full moons we have seen them 6-10″ washed up on boat ramps and as wide as a Sharpie marker. These aquatic worms (Polychaete) come in a variety of colors, Pink, Tan, Red, Yellow, Brown, Dark Green, and Black.
As I mentioned these worms are in constant motion, so pausing a worm fly might not be a good idea. We tend to cast out, and immediately start long consistent strips. I like targeting 10″- 5′ of water when I am fishing worms. Cutthroat love these things, and almost look evil chasing them and sucking them in. The fish is looking to inhale a worm vs kill the bait fish. It is important to keep the rod tip down for a solid strip set on the fish, as they are not setting on themselves as they do with baitfish patterns. Furthermore it becomes very important to have a tight line all the way through the retrieve so the fish does not pick it up and spit it out before you notice.
I have tied and fished a lot of different worm flies over the years, and here is what I have learned about the patterns. First, avoid the trailing hook! Cutthroat begin swallowing worms immediately, rather than wrestling with baitfish. Trailers tend to get caught in the gills or throat of fish. Avoid it. A hook in the front of the worm will be just fine, if you are getting short struck you are either not stripping the hook into the fish or you are not keeping tight to the fly. Rabbit strips are typically the choice for many worm patterns, however we see a lot of success with marabou, and even craft fur patterns.
I am a believer in a stout big hook on my baitfish patterns. The Tiemco 800s or the Ahrex NS110 SE, Ahrex HR430 are my baitfish hooks. For worms however, I have been using a weighted Ahrex Trailer Hook (NS182) which when strip set has had 100% corner of the mouth success. The up eye makes the worms twitch and dance on the retrieve. Grippiness is just insane, the fish just can not seem to spit the thing. One more note on the NS182 is that you can use a SUPER small hook to grab these fish, I am tying on a size 6-10 hook and they seem to leave the least amount of damage to the fish I have ever seen.
- 10″-5′ of water is the common strike zone that we have confidence in.
- Consistent long strips
- Keep the rod tip down for the first few strips of the fight
- Keep tight with constant movement to ensure good presentation and good strike detection.
- Play with different colors to get the fish to respond to the fly.
- Play with your depth until you find the strike zone
- No Stinger worm patterns
- Ahrex Nordic Salt Trailer Hook NS182