February FOTM: Alevin

February kind of sucks, it’s true, and you are probably more interested in risking hypothermia, depression and death or worse in some shitty river that has a negligible winter steelhead run than fishing for sea runs at this juncture. But wait! Within a few weeks a whole different fishery is about to begin. Around this time in the world of sea run cutthroat fly fishing one will often start to see patterns that imitate the alevin stage of the young salmonid’s development. This month’s sadly belated FOTM, rather than focusing on a specific pattern, is specifically about ideas for alevin flies.


An alevin (pronounced al-ay-vin) is the name given to the stage of development in a salmon after the embryo hatches from within the egg. The alevin breaks through the egg membrane with the yolk sac still attached beneath the throat. In this stage, which looks like a tiny little clear/light coloured fish with an orange egg like yolk sac attached underneath the neck, the alevin which is still beneath the gravel, grows and develops using the yolk sac for nutrients and energy. The sac is slowly absorbed (“buttoned up”) into the fish as they grow. They grow slowly, even beginning to feed beneath the gravel. This stage ends typically when the alevin has absorbed the yolk sac and the diminutive fry emerges, freely swimming from the gravel.

An interesting discussion on the subject from a fishing perspective can be found here:


In all the years I’ve tramped up and down rivers in the spring, I have never seen a full fledged alevin swimming around, only a few with a very thin vestigial bit of orange under the throat. These fry were fairly small (a little over an inch). Alevin typically stay beneath the gravel until they have completely absorbed the yolk sac; however, high water events, scouring, or other disruptions (predators rooting in the gravel, anglers walking across spawning gravel etc.) can wash alevin free into the current. They really can’t swim much and at this point become easy prey for hungry opportunistic trout. From an angling perspective it is possible that the orange or red in these patterns is just triggering a response to what might appear to be a wounded fry, it is also possible that they are still taking these flies as regular fry patterns, or even just purely as an attractor, but in the end I think it’s hard to speak to the motivations of a highly nomadic, hungry anadromous trout, although many have gone insane trying. One thing I do know is that these patterns work. As always I encourage you to tie your own version of an alevin, I think a lot of the fun in fly tying is experimenting with different patterns and materials and then testing them on animals. Though that doesn’t sound so good it’s true.

Egg n’ I


One of my own creations, let’s call it frynado


Shrink tube alevin



Epoxy alevin


Tied down minnow version-the super beadhead/glue gun edition


There’s always a good chance on any steelhead stream that these patterns can get a response from the “other” trout, but be aware that both cutthroat and steelhead kelts are around, and they are often easy to catch, so, be easy on these fish, especially the females, whose fecundity as repeat spawners can be very important for the health of future runs. That’s right motherfucker.



Internet pollution

While this blog may not be that good, overly verbose, grammatically correct, cogent, and openly panders to a questionable everyman ethic, I have been frankly surprised at the favourable response that I have received from the general public (that uses the Internet, fly fishes, cares remotely about conservation). Much of the internet fly fishing/forum/blog world suffers from pressure to be a $$$ logo fest with absolutely no substance (see all the horrendous guide outfitter Skeena or Dean river steelhead prostitution), or a trollathon whereby anybody who says or does literally anything is automatically an idiot (see any steelhead forum on the Internet). This kind of thing leads to an edited version of reality, a place where no one has ever done something stupid and learned from it, and also a place where idiots who make a lot of noise are able to drown out those that may have a point or relevant experience and knowledge. It makes online media a place where politics carry more weight than actions, things that I don’t believe are good or healthy. It is sometimes difficult to put yourself out there into that circus, especially admitting to being a human that makes mistakes as opposed to some sort of jedi expert and try to make any kind of point in that sphere, but in spite of the fact that I am no expert, and just love sea run cutthroat, for some reason people haven’t been remotely negative here. So thank you.

We here at cutthroatsgalore will continue to strive to provide the kind of specialized redundancy you have come to expect.


March FOTM: Keta Rose

March is a month of many things to many people, but for our weird little niche of fly fishing it’s the start of the salmon fry emergence on coastal rivers. Typically chum and pink fry emerge first and swim almost straight to the ocean such that it is not uncommon to find a few already in the estuary this time of year. The pink fry are usually very small, fairly transluscent and can take on a blueish cast. This early streamside exodus does not go unnoticed by the sea run cutthroat or any other trout for that matter. March is also the time to remember a fine fly fisherman by the name of Doug Rose, whose pattern the ‘Keta Rose’ I’ve posted before and is one of my favorite early in the year fry patterns.  The world of anadromous fly fishing is a community and the strong thread of conservation and restraint woven throughout Doug’s writing and deeds remains as important within this community and in the world now as it did while he was alive.


As ever imitative fly tying is all about creativity, observation, experimentation, revision and execution, qualities that produced this and many other fine salmon fry patterns, so in that spirit tie up some keta rose(s), fish them this spring, or watch the fry you encounter and work on your own pattern. Either way, one thing is true, hungry trout await.


Doug’s blog


And if you are looking for other fry patterns here is a good thread and an awesome forum (how’s that for self referencing)



Keta Rose

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 or white 6/0

Body: holographic silver tinsel ( I counter wrap clear mono or glue the tinsel for durability as cutthroat teeth usually shred tinsel quite 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 or 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 for the belly..think sparse and skinny

For a specific chum fry imitation I tie the same but sub light or regular olive polar bear for light blue leaving a few strands of light blue in the middle. A bead head is by no means required, just a slight variation for getting a bit more depth.