October Fly of the Month: Reverse Cutthroat Spider

Mike Kinney’s Reverse Cutthroat Spider goes back several decades to its proven inception as a heavy hitter in the sea run cutthroat hall of fame. It’s been catching cutthroat on the Stillaguamish River and beyond since I was a kid in grade school and several years before I picked up a fly rod for the first time. The inspiration for this fly, Al Knudsen’s Cutthroat Spider dates back to the 1920’s and also still catches fish nearly a century later. There is something magical about the breathy, pulsating spider type fly that has become synonymous with fall sea run cutthroat in our Northwest rivers. That’s as archetypal as it gets and I frequent the slow, log ridden snags and undercut banks our lower rivers with no less than a box full of the darn things in September and October. Both of the original patterns featured a chenille body, but I prefer the look of dubbing. One doesn’t really outperform the other, I’ve just never been a huge fan of chenille in my fly tying.

I typically tie these in sizes 6-10 and being an ardent fan of compromise, settle on a size 8 most of the time. Black or yellow tend to be my standouts, but I fish them in orange, white, pink and sometimes chartreuse, many with the plain natural mallard flank hackle, but sometimes with dyed yellow or orange mallard or various colors of lady amherst or golden pheasant tippet feathers if I can get my hands on them. Heck, I’ve even used the errant seagull feathers that blow into the shop on windy summer afternoons, which look amazing with their ghostly translucence in the water. Any longish soft and flowing feather will do.

I fish the Reverse Spider mainly on a floating or intermediate line, sometimes using a poly leader if I need to get a little deeper, but this fly is an impressive fish mover and cutthroat will frequently charge from the depths to take a whack as it passes irresistibly overhead. You can weight it with lead free wire or a brass bead if you like, but I tend to find it swims best when tied unweighted. Retrieve the fly with short quick strips, pausing briefly in between and be ever ready for that lightning fast grab that makes the coastal cutthroat such a fantastic game fish. Whip up a few Reverse Spiders for this fall season and take pleasure in fishing a little slice of Pacific Northwest history.

Reverse Cutthroat Spider
Hook: Daiichi 1270 #8
Thread: Yellow 140 Denier Ultra Thread
Tail: Natural Mallard Flank
Body: Yellow STS Trilobal Dubbing
Hackle: Natural Mallard Flank

Confluence Beer Pairing: Just like fall cutthroat fishing, many of us mark our calendars for the yearly release of various fresh hop IPA’s. Kulshan’s Strata Fresh Hop IPA is so incredible that you should definitely get yourself a six pack right now for immediate enjoyment while tying Spiders, floating a river, or watching the Mariners in their first playoff season in 21 years! Woohoo!