Cutthroat Trout vs Brook Trout – Major Difference?

cutthroat trout vs brook trout
cutthroat trout vs brook trout

Trout is the common name that is given to a different number of species living in freshwater. These fishes belong to the salmon family known as Salmonidae.

Trout are commonly found in clear, cool lakes and streams, however many of these species are anadromous as well.

These fishes usually have fins that are entirely without spines, they also have a small adipose fin along their back, near their tail. Trout have tons of species that all have unique characteristics and features.

These fish generally feed on the soft bodies of aquatic invertebrates, like flies, mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, and dragonflies to keep themselves fed.

Yet, the two most typical types you might encounter are brook trout and cutthroat trout.

To make it simpler for you to distinguish between different kinds, we will use this article to compare them for you.

Cutthroat Trout vs Brook Trout

Specifics Cutthroat Trout Brook Trout
Spots Lighter Darker
Patterns No Patten Wormlike
Tail No Spots Spotted
Fins No Edging White Edging

While these differences might make it seem like you will be able to easily set apart the cutthroat trout from the Brook trout, that is not the case. You will struggle a lot (even when you’re using polaroid glasses).

Finding the proper line requires years of practice. You will discover that the brook trout is 90% of the time simpler to recognize due to its darker coloration.

While the water and the basic texture will have an impact on the color when you’re looking at it from above. So, have that in mind when you’re trying to set these types apart. 

They will let you in on their techniques as to how they indefinite cutthroat trout from the brook trout. So, when you’re stuck and can’t seem to figure out the right fish, just ask them for help. 

This is especially three for owners that are new to the fishing game. Hence, if you lack experience, simply join some locals on a few fishing excursions.

You’ll discover how to tell cutthroat from brook trout along with some tips on how to improve and streamline your fishing technique. Time spent with veterans has no disadvantages.

With that said, going through the specifics listed below on the cutthroat trout and the brook trout will also help you out.

Cutthroat Trout

Cutthroat trout is a species of fish that are found roaming around in the Rocky Mountains, Great Basin, and the Pacific Ocean.


These are from the group of Pacific trout that are commonly hunted down because of their delicious meat. Before getting into this you should note why the fish are named this.

The name used for the variety refers to the distinct color under their lower jaw which allows people to distinguish them.

The adult size of the fish is around 10 kg which is fairly heavy. You should note that the variety is still able to travel at high speeds looking for prey.

The aggressive behavior of the fish is another reason why it is widely sought. Cutthroat trout are often hunted down and then used as gamefish because of their unique habits and patterns.

But one thing to note is that the fish usually travels around depending on the temperature around them.

If these are not suitable for the variety then it will change their location. This fact is why the fish can be tricky to catch. You should note that the temperatures these varieties roam around in usually range from about 39 to 59 degrees.

With that being said, the fish usually tends to change its location when the temperatures start to change. Though, the only issue with this is that the variety cannot migrate to another sea or river.

cutthroat caught

This is why once the temperature starts rising and hits 60 degrees. These fish will stop feeding and try to hide.

If the temperature keeps on increasing, then this can start becoming lethal for the variety.

This is quite an issue, and you should note that cutthroat trout will start to die once the temperature is around 68.5 to 69 degrees. If you are thinking about fishing for the variety then make sure that you try before this.

When catching fish, people should ensure that they use the best type of bait possible. There are tons of options that you can select from, but this is also the main reason why users get confused.

When catching cutthroat trout, the best type of bait that can be used is salmon eggs or nightcrawlers.

Aside from this, the equipment being used is another important factor to look out for. The fish is quite aggressive which is why it might try breaking your line.

To prevent this from happening you should use durable lines and rods that will withstand the pressure being applied by these fish.

Brook Trout

Brook trout is a species of trout that is found living in freshwater. This is the most common type of trout that can be found.

brook trout creek

People should note that the variety is native to Canada and the Eastern part of the United States. However, these fish have also quickly spread to other regions because of their popularity.

This includes regions like Asia, Europe, and Iceland. You should note that the maximum size of an adult brook trout is around 4.4 kg which is almost half when compared to cutthroat trout.

Additionally, when looking at their behavior, people will notice that brook trout are tamer.

The main reason why brook trout are caught is because of how easy it is to attract them.

Additionally, the meat found in them is not only delicious but also healthy to eat. This makes the variety one of the best options to go for while you are fishing.

The meat found on brook trout is full of nutrients including potassium, phosphorus, as well as protein.

The omega-3 fatty acids are also quite high which helps out people with cardiovascular problems. This fact alone is one of the main reasons behind the popularity of the variety.

brook trout fishing

Now that you know this, it will be simple for others to distinguish between these two fish when comparing them side by side.

You can usually tell the differences between them without much effort but the only issue that you will notice is that they are both found in the same spots.

This is why if you are trying to catch one out of the two varieties then the other one might get attracted instead.

If you are having trouble trying to tell these fish apart then look for the red color on the cutthroat’s neck. This is the best indication aside from their massive size.

The patterns on the body and the spots on the tail are also some clear indications of how you can tell the varieties apart.

After reading the information above, people should be able to recognize how these types differ from one another.

The Takeaway

Confused between the Brook Trout and the Cutthroat Trout? Well, you’re not the first! Luckily, you can go through the details listed above to figure out the minute differences between these fish.

You won’t be wrong to say that there are more similarities than differences between these variants.

However, it will still serve you well to think of the Brook trout as the darker fish that is more robust and brings a wormlike pattern.

There are more spots on its tail and the fins also present a white edging to them. So, have that in mind when you’re trying to set apart cutthroat trout from brook trout. 

Aside from these basic pointers, there are also some things that you can pick up by spending time with the local anglers.

They will guide you on how you can detect movement patterns between these fish, making it easier to figure out the right type. 

Hopefully, you will not have to hassle with anything after going briefly over these details. However, if you’re still confused, then you gotta get more experience.

You will not accurately set these fish apart, but you can still get a decent rate (above 70 percent) if you spend enough time.

Everything will eventually boil down to your experience, and you gotta put in the time when you’re unsure about what the best option for your fishing system. 

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