Fly tying: Off-the-hook Sucker Spawn

Several years ago, I was on an early-season prospecting trip into the headwaters of the Rio Grande in south-central Colorado, on the prowl for migrating cutthroats. I found a great little meadow-stretch of water and carefully crept to the edge of the river—really just a small stream at this elevation. Peering carefully over the edge of a cutbank, I saw literally hundreds of fish finning over pea-sized gravel, and they weren't little fish, either.

But they weren't trout. They were Rio Grande suckers, and they were spawning. 

Off the Hook Sucker Spawn

I looked closely through polarized lenses and I could see, mingling with the spawning, thick-bodied suckers, a few chunky trout just lying in wait for sucker spawn to drift down to them. As Tim Flagler points out in the video above, sucker eggs are a great early-season source of food for trout, and they'll often line up behind spawning fish and take advanage of the bounty. I furiously searched my fly boxes and found one, single, solitary yellow Glo-bug I remember finding snagged to a rootball a few years before. I tied the fly on my tippet, added a bit of weight, and drifted it carefully through the run. 

Long story made short, I spent about two hours moving up and down along a 50-yard stretch of river, catching wild, native Rio Grande cutthroat trout at will. Finally, my tippet frayed enough to its breaking point. By then, I remember thinking, I'd had enough fun, thanks to the much-maligned sucker. 

Tim's pattern above would have likely worked just as well, if not better, because sucker eggs come in masses rather than as solitary eggs. It's also a super-easy pattern to tie, and it's timely. From the Rockies to the Northeast, suckers start spawning any minute now, and opportunistic trout will be lying in wait for their eggs ... or your fly.

— Chris Hunt


said on Friday, March 24th, 2017

That is a great fly, but it is essentially the same as Karl Weixlmann's Three Loop Pink Lady tied with Pink Lady Glo bug Yarn!


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