August 8, 2018

Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroats - August 1, 2018

The day after I completed my last canyon excursion, I fished in western Wyoming for Snake River fine spotted cutthroat (SRFS). I've caught this fish many times before, but the stream that I chose this outing was new to me.

Here is some information on this beautiful fish: "The Snake River fine spotted cutthroat is native to the Snake River drainage between Jackson Lake and the Palisades Reservoir in Wyoming. Above and below this area the predominant fish is the Yellowstone cutthroat, however what is odd is that before the construction of the dam on Jackson Lake and Palisades Reservoir, there were no barriers to isolate the two types of cutthroat from each other. It is thought that the fine spotted form of cutthroat diverged from the Yellowstone cutthroat during the last ice age when it likely was isolated in the Snake River (Behnke 1992). Modern genetic testing is unable to differentiate between the large spotted Yellowstone cutthroat and fine spotted and further supports this recent divergence of the two subspecies (Loudenslager and Kitchin 1979; Novak et al. 2005). "

This is a Yellowstone cutthroat - compare its spot pattern to the SNFS cutthroat. 

This is a Snake River fine spotted cutthroat. 

I drove the Tacoma up into a canyon over a 4X4 high clearance road to reach the part of the stream that I had previously scouted and wanted to fish. This was one case where the journey was as fun as the destination! Upon reaching the stream I rigged up and proceeded to fish a small eddy on the far side of the creek. On my third cast I hooked a nice little SRFS cutthroat.

I also landed many brook trout, but none of them held the beauty of the cutthroat in my eyes.

This one had a small healing wound. 

After I had worked my way upstream, catching numerous trout along the way, I decided to end for the day. On my last cast I hooked into the largest fish of the day. It was a very successful outing on another new stream. I enjoyed the Tacoma rock crawl on the way out too!


  1. Being an easterner I have to favor the beauty of the char. But the cutthroat does hold it's own.
    I like the fly.

    1. We each love our natives. There's nothing wrong with that!

    2. Tom, can you give the materials list of that fly?

    3. You bet I can.

      Hook: curved caddis/scud hook
      Thread: red for head
      Hackle: partridge
      Thorax: peacock herl (secured with the red thread so that red shows through the peacock when it's wet)
      Abdomen: white cotton sewing thread

      The fly you see is tied as a sakasa kebari (forward facing soft hackle) and so I tie it from head to butt, rather than the traditional butt to head. The fly works equally as well as a traditional softhackle, with the hackle facing towards the butt of the fly.

      Here is a video if my tying this fly:

    4. Thank you....I'll tie a few and give them a try.

  2. Dig those fish. Interesting the subtle difference between the two.

    1. Subtle differences, yet both very beautiful.

  3. Absolutely beautiful, how are you liking the xl1? If you ever make your way west you have a open invite to the eastern sierras.

    1. I like the XL-1. For it's length it's a very well balanced rod and fun to fish. Thanks for the invite!