FLY OF THE MONTH- August- 2019


The Purple Haze

This month we are featuring a dry fly called the Purple Haze. This pattern is a favourite fly of Tamie Fraser, our guest speaker at the August annual dinner. Tamie is a skilled fly fisher. She has fished Tasmania a lot and the Purple Haze has been a very effective fly for her in those Tassie lakes and streams.

Where did the pattern come from? Andy Carlson, a fly fishing guide on the Bitterroot River in Montana, first tied this fly some years ago. It is essentially a Parachute Adams with a purple body. It’s fame spread, and the Purple Haze is now  a popular and very effective pattern in Montana and countless other places as well.

But like many flies there are varied opinions in how it should be tied. The photo above is of a Purple Haze tied by Hubert Reichelt, while the image on the next page came from Mike Stevens at the Essential Flyfisher store in Launceston. There are a few obvious differences.

The details below describe the fly as tied by Hubert.


Hook:   Standard dry fly hook in sizes 10 – 18. Most popular sizes – 14 & 16. Hubert suggests  size 14 for Australia streams and size 16 for New Zealand South Island rivers.

Thread: Purple, 8/0 or 6/0 - depending on hook size.

Tail: Speckled moose-body hair or (Hubert’s recommendation) elk body hair, or if these are    not readily available then use a mixture of stiff coachman brown and grizzly cock hackle fibres.

Body:   The purple tying thread.

Wing Post:  White calf body hair or white calf tail fibres, or (for those who find these    materials tricky and fiddly) try white Hi-Vis.

Hackle:  As for the traditional Parachute Adams fly – a mixture of coachman brown and grizzly cock hackle feathers.

Mike Stevens: Purple Haze

Tying the Fly:

  1. With the hook in the vice run some purple thread down the hook shank from the eye to just before the bend.
  2. Tie in the tail material. The tail should be about the same length as the hook shank.
  3. Wind thread back to the point where you will tie in the wing post.
  4. of the hook shank. In tying in the wing post material first tie the base of it on the top of the hook shank so that the wing post material lies along the hook shank and sticks out over the eye. Then raise the wing post so that it is vertical by tying turns of thread immediately in front of it and around its base.
  5. Prepare the two hackle feathers for inclusion. Then tie them in vertically by tying them a short distance up the post – the grizzly hackle feather closest to the post and the brown hackle feather on top of the grizzly hackle feather. These feathers need to be tied in with the dull side facing out so that when they are tied in horizontally their dull sides will be facing down. The point here is that the natural downward curve of the hackle feathers (if their shiny sides face up) will provide better support for the fly when it is floating on the water and thus keep the wing post nicely vertical.
  6. Run the purple thread back to the tail and wrap threads forward to build up the shape of the body – thinner near the tail and fatter where the thorax would be. Tie some thread in front of the post too, to ensure the hackle feathers are secure.
  7. Now tie in the hackle feathers. Hubert has some firm instruction about this. First tie in    the brown hackle feather – two turns (for hook size 16 or smaller) or three turns (for hook size 14 or larger). Lock it into place firmly with two or three strong turns, then cut of the waste.
  8. Then tie in the grizzly hackle feather so that it is above the brown hackle feather – again two turns (for hook size 16 or smaller) or three turns (for hook size 14 or larger). Again lock it into place firmly with two or three strong turns, then cut of the waste.
  9. Tie off the thread to complete the fly.

(Here is a helpful trick from an English professional fly tier: in tying off the brown hackle feather first paint some superglue onto a centimetre or two of the tying thread. Then wrap this superglue coated thread around the brown hackle. Do the same with the grizzly hackle feather - take a few turns of superglue coated thread around the grizzly hackle, give it 10 -20 seconds to set, then just cut the thread. Our English professional fly tier assures us that he’s never had a hackle glued in like this unwind on him.)