Identification Overview

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These pages describe 24 trout species and sub-species sought by anglers in the lower-48 United States. 

THE DOWNLOAD SYSTEM PROVIDES A HIGHER RESOLUTION PDF VERSION OF THESE PAGES, SIZED TO FIT IN YOUR VEST, WHICH YOU CAN PRINT AND TAKE WITH YOU ON THE STREAM.  CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD.

Greenback Cutthroat

Conclusively identifying a species on the stream is often impossible in the few seconds you have to examine a trout before releasing it unharmed.  While most experienced trout anglers will be able to distinguish the most common trout (rainbows, browns, and brookies), conclusively identifying other species can be  much more challenging.  That said, we try to highlight the distinguishing characteristics of each sub-species versus the variants it most closely resembles.

No one will mistake these illustrations for real fish, but we view that as an advantage because we can exaggerate the features that really matter.  A photo-realistic image may look gorgeous, but may never match the fish at the end of your line.  A real fish may look dramatically different from any one-off illustration or photo.  In the final analysis, we do the best we can.  If your best judgement is you’ve caught the species you’ve identified, what else matters?

SPECIAL THANKS TO STEVEN SCHALLA, FLY FISHING THE SIERRA, WHO CREATED THE ILLUSTRATIONS.

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