Perfect Natural Color Eggs For Steelhead

By Mick Thomas | 02/05/2015

Egg cures are available in different colors. There are a variety of colors and choices to fit your needs. The bait of choice for me for winter steelhead on the coast is Pautzke’s Natural BorX O Fire. That’s my go-to egg for my Steelhead Candy.

I’m partial to natural, but I do see guys with yellow eggs, green eggs, red and pink eggs. Meanwhile, I use what keeps my percentage of take up on a regular basis and maybe I’m kicking myself in the butt by not trying other things, but I’m stuck in a rut that’s working. All of my steelhead this year has been caught on natural cured eggs. All of them.


The natural eggs are better used for extremely clear water, but you can catch fish on them in all conditions. If you are fishing dirty rivers, large rivers, places that don’t get clear, colored eggs are for you. In those places red, pink, orange and other colors work very well and are the colors of choice.

I like natural eggs because they work in the low, gin clear water I fish. Personally, I feel natural color eggs are more effective in these conditions. By using the natural my egg looks just like they came out of the fish. You’re matching the hatch, per say.


Steelhead lay orange eggs, which is their natural color. These eggs don’t all the sudden turn red or pink or green or purple when they come out of the fish. They are orange. However, people cure them those other colors so they stand out in colored water. Sometimes color is more vibrant to the fish’s line of sight, which is why we cure them those colors. I’m sticking with natural color eggs in clear water. I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember and don’t plan on changing.

Keeping Eggs Natural

Since BorX O Fire came out, it’s simplified the process to cure eggs. Anybody can do this. This is the simplest process known to mankind. Anyone can cure eggs today with BorX O Fire, which is a complete cure. You don’t have to add anything. It’s not just a bottle of plain borax, which is what we used to use in the old days.


In the bottle is a one-stop shop, which old timers like me didn’t grow up with. I used to mess with the egg skeins for hours. It was a long process. We had to pour on the salt, mess with the borax and sure you diligently rubbed it in between the layers of eggs. It was hard work.

Now, all I do is open the bottle, pour the cure on the eggs, throw them in a bag and go fishing with them in the morning. It’s that easy. It’s really this easy to cure steelhead eggs with BorX O Fire. It’s quick, easy and catches fish.


The Yes It’s That Easy Steelhead Cure

Step 1: Butterfly eggs

Step 2: Make Sure Skein is Blood Free


Step 3: Sprinkle BorX O Fire Sparingly or Heavily: It doesn’t matter


Step 4: Place eggs with cure on them in Ziploc, Mason Jar, Tupperware or Container

Step 5: Store eggs in a cool place overnight. This process should take 12 hours. They’ll be ready to fish in the morning.

Smith River Mick’s Notes:

Keep in mind when you sprinkle the cure on it draws the moisture out of the eggs and cures the skeins evenly. After 12 hours, there will be liquid in the container. At this point, drain the eggs and you’re ready to fish.

Some anglers want drier eggs, for varying conditions. If you want them drier simply air-dry them on a screens where they can drip dry for several hours and they will firm up. If you don’t have that luxury, you can place them on paper towels and achieve the same thing.


Editor’s Note: With more than 30 years of guiding under his belt, veteran guide Mick Thomas owns Lunker Fish Trips, which is based on California’s majestic Smith River. He stockpiles cases of Natural BorX O Fire in the winter and early spring.