Puget Sound Perfect Setups

By Capt. Justin Waters

Puget Sound is an incredibly and beautifully diverse marine area. As sea run cutthroat anglers, we are fishing drop-offs, flats, shelves, and estuaries all in the same day. So, before we begin, I'd like to point out that our boat has four rods rigged at all times. However, in my extremely strong opinion, these are the two perfect rigs for fishing Puget Sound sea run cutthroat. These set ups are not only deadly effective, but they are the most fun set ups we have found.

690-4 Sage SALT HD // Sage Spectrum MAX // RIO OutBound Short Type III

A wise man (George Cook) once (1000x) told me “You can’t have too big a fish, too beautiful a woman, or too dead a brown bear.” However, I will add that you can’t have too perfect of a fly rod. The Sage SALT HD in my opinion is the best rod ever made for fishing a trying marine area. The feel of this rod loading in your hand is absolutely perfect. The power is endless with the HD Technology and it still manages to be a fun fighter with even smaller trout.

The Sage Spectrum MAX is tough enough to be abused 200+ days a year in the salt. I am not kind to my gear and haven't heard a whimper of the drag. The Spectrum MAX also stands up to the beatings of rough seas like a champ! Further more, the Squid Ink colorway matches my favorite fly rod real nice!

The RIO OutBound Short Type III is a fantastic fly line for our use. We have anglers on our boat of all skill levels, and this line taper casts great in the hand of a pro, and gets out there in the hands of a beginner with a little instruction. As for the Type III sink, with a little attention, it gets down to any depth of water we would be fishing for sea run cutthroat and stays off the bottom when fishing the shallows. In a strictly fish-catching sense, this is the best line available for fishing from a boat or a steep beach setting.

Spare Spool: RIO OutBound Short Type VI for hot summer days and steep drop offs.

697-4 Sage X // Sage Spectrum MAX // RIO OutBound Floater

If the SALT HD is the king of the boat, the Sage X 697-4 is the king of diversity. This rod is at home on the boat and we keep it rigged with our floating set ups. But where it really shines is off the beaches of Puget Sound. The extra 6 inches keeps your line off the rocks (for the most part) and the power of this rod is just unlimited. Punching long cast in the wind? No problem. Fishing off a steep beach with little room for error? No problem. Line control out at a distance is great with this stick and I think it will have a forever home in my rod rack.

Sage Spectrum MAX - I have to say this is my new favorite reel. This reel is tough, and can take a beating on the boat. The sealed drag and tight tolerance does great when I drop it in the shelly sand on the beach. After owning this one for a while I won’t be going back. The Sage Spectrum MAX also has the added bonus of looking super good on the rod as well.

RIO OutBound Floater - You could go with a OutBound Short off the beach and in some situations, it is probably a better set up. However, for just launching line on a average Puget Sound beach, the Outbound is much more fun to cast. The floating line also allows you to take advantage of sea run cutthroat’s hatred for anything stripped across the surface. With their affection for a surface fly, why would you not want to have a floating line in your arsenal? The RIO OutBound Floater is a fun line to cast, and that is really why it's on our boat.

Spare Spool: RIO Coastal QuickShooter; when you know they are there, and and you need to get down a bit more.

featured products

  • Saltwater Specific
  • clp


    Saltwater Specific /
  • Multi-Application
  • clp

    The X

    Multi-Application /

about the author

Captain Justin Waters grew up just outside of Homossassa, FL and immediately got sucked into fishing for local snook and tarpon.  Following high school, Justin moved to Bellingham, WA and earned his degree in Fisheries Technology.  While he learned a lot in school, he really learned that he wanted to be a fly fishing guide.  After a couple of years working on the Henry's Fork in a fly shop and as a guide, Justin moved to Gig Harbor, WA to work in a local fly shop and guide on Puget Sound.  It was guiding one day on Puget Sound that he met his now fiance, Brita, who prompptly embarrassed Justin and his boss, as she guided her clients into multiple fish in front of them.  Justin now spends his days guiding Puget Sound and Hood Canal from his boat for sea run cutthroat, and when not guiding, unsuccessfully attempts to out-fish Brita.  Learn more about Justin's guide service, All Waters Fly Fishing, on his website.