Trapper Rudd purchased Arapahoe Anglers a decade ago, and promptly renamed the fly shop in Silverthorne after Colorado’s state fish. Cutthroat employs five or six shop staff at the peak of the season, along with 16 to 18 guides covering such waters as the Colorado, South Platte, Arkansas, Blue, Williams Fork, and Roaring Fork, as well as some private access areas.
As a shop, Cutthroat takes pride in providing first-hand knowledge to customers looking to take a foreign fishing trip—which has given owner Trapper Rudd a good excuse for embarking on plenty of exotic adventures.
“When someone walks in and asks, ‘Have you ever been to…?’, and you can relate a personal experience, it just gives you that much more credibility,” says Rudd. “I saw early on in my career that diversification and a solid knowledge base on all things flyfishing would make the shop that much more credible, both with customers and within the greater angling community.”
Cutthroat carries some of the top brands in every category, including Sage, Scott, G Loomis and St. Croix rods; Ross, Tibor and Galvan reels; and Simms and Cloudveil waders, “Because we have such a professional guide staff,” says Rudd, “we are able to adequately field test all the products we want to sell. That way the customer isn’t stuck with a gimmick item.”
In addition to providing up-to-date info for many central Colorado flyfishermen—as well as being a high-country source for many land-locked saltwater junkies—Cutthroat Anglers is well-known as the home of “Hanna Hogtana” an oversized rainbow that provides—as Rudd puts it: “The ultimate [legal] peep show” for anglers.
“The name was submitted by a loyal customer in a contest we put on,” explains Rudd. “I landed her on private water down on the Blue, and kept her for ‘educational purposes’ with permission from the landowner. She has been in her habitat for nearly a year and a half. You should see her chew on stonefly nymphs when they are in season!”
Cutthroat has not one but two TVs playing fishing videos in the shop. “I believe instructional videos are mostly junk,” says Rudd. “You’ve gotta be out there on the water to learn. So we try to put more relevant stuff up on the screens—fish porn and goofy things that happen to us, just to try and highlight the fun aspects of the sport by showing mistakes and some local color.”
Like many Colorado shops, Cutthroat Anglers guides take their clients on a mix of public and private water. We asked Rudd if the private water is a good or bad thing.
“It is truly a double-edge sword,” he says. “On the one hand, privatization of the water excludes many from enjoying our natural heritage, and it limits access. On the other hand, some private landowners can really improve stretches of sub-standard water. It’s great to offer clients at least some water that you know hasn’t had the piss knocked out of it earlier in the day. In that situation, ultimately, the clients are paying for solitude. I think shops should have a mix of both public and private. If you guide all day, every day, on private, manicured, supplemented water, like some lodges and shops do, then you may find the job description of ‘rod caddy’ more accurate. Public water keeps the edge on your guide eye. It forces ingenuity.”
Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.