The cutthroat waker

I believe at it’s core fly fishing should be fun and waking flies certainly fit that definition. Of course fly fishing is certainly not as fun as drinking oneself to oblivion at 1030 am on a Tuesday, but waking flies for trout is still pretty fun. Here’s my spin on the ubiquitous foam and elk waking fly, named so because of how many cutthroat have fallen victim to it. It wakes very well even in rougher water, is easy to tie, a good fly to tie up on shitty days in February, when after 14 trips without a grab, the romance of the winter steelhead has waned and when one tends to fantasize about warm days, floating lines and aggressive fish. I find that 4-6 wt (250-385 gr.) switch rods are perfect for fishing and casting these bushy types of flies, especially for trout. Swing or strip and repeat as necessary for trout or surprise summer steelhead. I post this up, because it’s a fun fly to fish not because of my ego about my fly tying ability, take it for what it’s worth.

*I apologize if this is exactly the same as someones “copyrighted” pattern, I came by it honestly*


Hook: Tiemco 200R size 6-8

Thread: Kevlar, gel spun or other strong thread

Tail: small pinch of elk or moose (same as wing)

Body: caddis green, orange, black or ginger dubbing

Head/wing: A decent bunch of elk (natural or black) or moose (stiffer is better) tied in on top of the hook about a quarter of the way back from the eye. I wrap a heavy thread both around and under the front of the forward lip( this lifts the lip up a bit for better waking. It takes quite a bit of thread pressure and a lot of wraps to keep this wing perched on top of the fly, hence the requirement for a strong thread. This is the most difficult part, I usually superglue the thread binding the wing and then use superglue when the fly is finished to make sure the wing doesn’t spin.

The wing length is equalish to the tip of the tail. Once the wing is secured, I tie in a small wedge shaped piece of 3mm foam to flatten the forward facing hair, then trim in a fan shape ahead of the hook eye.  This forward fan shaped lip allows this fly the wake in rougher water fairly well, especially if you use stiffer fibres. Ill also sometimes tie in a smaller piece of orange or other bright coloured foam on top of the first piece of foam for visibility.

Legs: *Optional* Barred or white medium round rubber legs or whatever you like (cutthroat just love wiggly rubber legs) tied in at the same tie in point as the wing, one piece on each side.

This fly casts fairly well, does not require floatant and is usually inspires vicious strikes, especially when stripped back through seams and sea run trouty water.


Why I write this garbage

I waver often in whether I think this blog serves at all the intended purpose of influencing people to care about the anadromous fish of the west coast, or if it simply just masturbating into the ether. I love the west coast of BC, it’s rivers, the many creatures that live within and without their waters. I love travelling to the many amazing places here, scheming to get out and experience as much of it as I can.

Now I am an idiot in my way and I like fishing and taking pictures of sea run cutthroat way too much (just ask my long suffering wife) but I often make the point that if you care about something you care about it. If I was never able to fish any of the rivers I love again I would still care, I would still go to those creeks and rivers, and I would still engage the lunatics and their stooges (Christy Clark) whose sole wish is to pick apart our world piece by piece until there is nothing left.

Our society’s philosophy of endless human growth that so many people’s lives embody and so many believe in is actively designed to eradicate all sustainability in our interactions with the physical world. I am not a slave to this cheap dogma, nor to any of it’s permutations. Wild fish are and will be grist for the mill of this fallacy until there are no more of them left, unless people fight to preserve them and the larger world around them.

There is too much at stake, too much subterfuge by the powers that be, and too much apathy in and about the world that sustains us. That apathy is being preyed upon. The issues at play reverberate far beyond the pool full of trout for fly fishers to play with on the weekend. They also reach beyond the cheap chest thumping of people who work in the oil or logging industry or the cowards of popular media. This world isn’t yours only. So while I do think this blog isn’t doing much of fuck all, I still care and I’m not going to shut up about it.


Rainy Wales

Dear 2.5 readers, I am back from a brief jaunt to storm battered Wales to visit my dream girl. My usual rate of drivel shall now resume.

This is as close as I got to fishing on this trip, although with the truly heinous weather I doubt anybody in Wales is doing much fishing of any kind anyway.


Cardiff castle/millennium stadium/shitty weather


They say that the continuous high winds and rain that are causing so many problems in the UK, as well as the much discussed “polar vortex” are the result of another extreme weather event in Indonesia last year acting through the disruption of the jet stream. Whilst the climate is a complex system and consensus on global warming/climate change is difficult to achieve or prove, I’d suggest that listening to what climate scientists have to say about it is more prudent than listening to politicians (Do you think Chevron lobbyist Steven Sayle, who laughably now heads the House Committee on Science, is going to be even remotely objective on climate science?) media outlets, commercial enterprises, or authors (Micheal Crichton) who have an axe to grind, or receive financial and/or political backing from the energy industry or one of it’s many sleazy lapdogs.

Just a thought.

Keta Rose

Not too long from now, young freshly hatched pink and chum salmon fry will take one look at their natal gravelbed and pretty much say screw this and dash straight for the ocean. When this happens hungry early springtime stream and estuary trout take notice. Sometime between March and June in systems that hold strong runs of these salmon (every second year for most pink runs) you will find these small, skinny, silvery-light blue/olive translucent fry amassing in the rivers and at the beach. Good sea run cutthroat fly fishers are always observing and have been attempting to match this colouration for some time now and historic patterns such as Ken McLeod’s Skagit Minnow and Haig Brown’s Humpback fry, Stickleback, and Silver Lady patterns (good patterns in their own right) and newer patterns such as Triggs’ Chum Baby stand in testament to this. The late Doug Rose’s pattern “Keta Rose” however matches this colouration like few others I have tied. Another very good but not necessarily widely known sea run cutthroat pattern.



Hook: Salt gamagatsu SS15 or SC15 sized 6-8 (as per rose) 12 or 14 are my preference (these fry are usually around three quarters to one and a half inches when freshly hatched (here anyway)

Thread: 2 lb clear mono

Body: holographic silver tinsel ( I counter wrap clear mono or glue the tinsel for durability as cutthroat teeth usually shred tinsel quickly)

Throat: a small amount of white UV minnow belly or substitute such as UV polar chenille, or similar UV throat material.

Wing: From top: light blue polar bear, transluscent synthetic fiber/bucktail/goat or other sub, a few strands of light blue or pearl krystal flash, a few strands of chartreuse angel hair or similar, white polar bear or sub…think sparse and skinny

Eyes: like on every other pattern, optional. I have met a number of people who say that eyes net better catch rates but in my experience it is simply not true. Fishing a spinner will increase your catch rate, not adding a 1/64th inch black dot on an inch long fly being quickly stripped erratically in moving water.

I implore you to go read the late Doug Rose’s blog before it disappears or go find one of his books (The Colo(u)r of Winter for example). There is lots of really good stuff on his blog about fly fishing, conservation, history, the OP, the cool community of the crazy fly fishers down in Puget sound and the Olympic peninsula, and of course the mighty fine sea run cutthroat, and he was also a very good writer.

doooo it!