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Are Coho Better
Than Sea runs?
As my boat pulls into the bay, it is still slightly dark, which is the best time to fish for Coho. The
weather is cool with cloud cover. Coho will go deep if it’s too sunny. The water that I am in is about
50’ deep with an Eelgrass bottom. Coho tend to say right above the Eelgrass and 12” to 100’ below
the surface. There are also a couple of sand points, which will almost always hold Coho. These
Coho habitats are really easy to find because they are visible. The two last places in any bay is
along the shore in less then 6” of water and Tide rips where the currents mix and hold debris.

I choose to use my expensive new 9-weight fly rod. The same rod that I use for steelhead in rivers.
This type of rod will do fine. Actually for Coho the rod needs to be a decent rod but not over
whelming in price. Most Coho anglers use a shooting tip line with a fast sinking tip. I do as well. A
shorter stronger leader of say 20 lb test tapering into a tip of 10 lbs test is good unless you want to
lose your fish. Basically a medium set up is what you will see for Coho fishing.

Flipping through my fly box I try to match the bait in the water to any of my flies. Coho feed on
Amphipods, Herring, shrimp, Candlefish and squid. This makes the easier to catch. Such a wide
range of feed makes it easier to fish. Basically anything that resembles what they eat will work. The
fact that matters are the retrieves is what counts for getting strikes. I use of two retrieves that are
specially designed for the type of fishing I do for Coho. For the long cast there is a long distance
Coho cast. A darting retrieve is used. The dart retrieve makes the fly look like a retreating food
source. The lob cast is the other one used. This cast is for slow deep spastic retrieves. The retrieve
makes the fly look like a dying baitfish. These casts and retrieves can be confusing at time. They do
how ever make you strike consistence better for Coho’s. Since the Coho is known to hunt by using
their incredible speed it is important that the retrieve is quicker than normal.

By now I have hooked into my first fish and have it at the boat. It is a nice Coho, that probably
weighing in at 8 pounds. I will tell you this. The Coho is the second largest Pacific Salmon species
next to the Chinook. All anglers prize it. But no other style of fishing prizes the Coho more then
that of the Fly angler. These are considered to be a Washington state gem in their own right. Their
abundance exceeds that over the Chinook and Sea run Cutts in the sound. Coho can run in the
weight range of around 30 pounds but those are ocean fish that leave the sound and feed in the
ocean. Most of the fish caught by fly anglers in the sound are resident Coho, which max out at
around 15 pounds. That is impressive in size. It is also the reason some many fly anglers prize the
Coho. The Coho is also the most acrobatic of the Pacific Salmon and trout. Making spectacular
leaps and rolling when hooked. That makes them tougher to land. In the salt water a mature male
fish can run you half way into your backing and test the will and strength of an angler. These
reasons are way the Coho on most Washington fly anglers list.

What makes fishing tough for Coho is the fact that the better fishing for them is from a boat
casting towards the beach. Some people may not have the amenity. Which makes it tougher for
them to get access to better Coho grounds. But still the wading angler gets a good share of the
action by fishing points and drop offs.

By now I have caught maybe three nice Coho and the bite is over. I start the motor and move out
of the bay. I head south towards a special kept secret of mine. A bay that is about 40’ deep and has
a 20’depth on the flats. This bay to has points and about 4 or 5 of them. The bay has different kinds
of structure. But some of it the same as the Bay I just fished. The depth is similar and there is a
tiderip at the entrance to the bay. The difference is the bottom is an oyster bed. Sea runs seem to
be attracted to these areas. It’s because they hold a large amount of forage fish. In these bays
there are finer point and structure that are harder for an angler to detect. Such as current switches
and contours in the bottom which can only be seen with a depth finder. That leaves the shore
angler to fend for him self and guess what the bottom is like. But like the bay I just fish there are
some of the same structure like a stated before.

Like the Coho, Sea runs eat candlefish, herring, and amphipods. But they also eat insects which
means fishing with dry flies is really popular in the saltwater. So when I fish for Sea run Cuts I will
start by using a dry fly instead of a wet fly or streamer. So when I flip through my fly box for the
correct fly I can use almost any of the same flies I do for Coho. A slightly lighter rod will do. It
doesn’t need to be as expensive as the rod one uses for Coho. A 5-6 weight rod will do fine. Since
you can fish the surface a floating line will be best. But pretty much the same equipment can be
used for Sea runs as you would use for Coho.

This time matching the feed with the correct fly becomes very important. Unlike Coho, Sea runs
are picky eaters. So picking the right fly does matter. But it is also just as important to match the
retrieve with the fly. As the fly sinks I will jerk it the strip the line quicker then for Coho. Then slow
down again making the fly look like a fleeing injured baitfish. But a steady strip does just as good.
These minor details make all the difference when fishing for Sea runs, which are harder than fishing
for Coho But its worth the hard work and time.

What Sea run Cutts lack in the size department they make up in their fighting ability and their
beauty. They are truly the gems of trout in the state of Washington. They may be small but they
put up a hell of a fight. They are on the top of most saltwater fly anglers list for those reasons.

As the day has come to an end, I have caught probably 10 fish. Four of them were Coho and 6 of
them were sea run cuts. I look back at why I consider these fish to be so different but yet so similar
and begin to think why that is. Why hundreds of anglers purse one or the other and why one
maybe more popular then the other and I realize that I know that I Consider both of them to be
perfect in their own little ways. But I always will have a heart for the Sea run the master of the
sound.