Fly of the Week: Purple Haze

purple haze

Credited to Montana guide Andy Carlson and distributed in its original form through the Montana Fly Company, the parachute Purple Haze dry fly is one of the best patterns I have ever fished.  When customers ask what fly they should be using in Montana in the summertime, the Purple Haze is usually at the top of the list.  In a variety of sizes from #18-#12, the Purple Haze can cover many of your mayfly hatches.  It also works very well as a general attractor or searching fly, and fish still seem to select it when caddis are on the water.  Fish simply like it.

Of course, fly tiers and fly companies have provided many replicas with a variety of body and tail variations.  Many simply change the dubbing to purple and package it as a Purple Adams.  While a purple Adams works fine, the Purple Haze has some defining characteristics that make it an excellent fly.

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The parachute post placement is a little further back on the body.  This provides better balance on the water.  I also think it changes the profile slightly, and it is one of the reasons the Purple Haze works so well for many different hatches.

The body is smooth and made of either thread or wrapped with Sexy Floss.  Cement is applied to the bottom, which results in a durable and smooth body.  The shiny body also sets flush on the film, showing itself to be vulnerable from the fish’s view.

The tail is made with hair.  Speckled Moose is the original dressing, though deer or elk can work fine in a pinch.  The hair provides better floatation than standard feather tailing fibers.

Many anglers really don’t care about all the thought and detail that fly tiers put into designing flies.  They just want to go to the fly shop and buy the flies that are working.  If you choose the Purple Haze, you are definitely on the right track.

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I fly fish to live (25+ years guiding). I live to fly fish (obsession). At the age of two, I captured my first Bluegill in Southern Michigan. Since then, I have never stopped looking into waters for fish. My first wild trout came from the waters of Glacier NP a few years later. I spent much of my youth chasing fish in Wisconsin, the Great Lakes and throughout central Canada. I went to Alaska in 1989, where I met my wife, started a family and spent 26 seasons guiding anglers. Great Falls and the North 40 Fly Shop are now home base. Stop by and lets talk fish, bear encounters or even my experience with Bigfoot.
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