The Allure of Purple Dry-Fly Patterns
Why trout like the color purple, and why you should have some in your fly box.
What makes purple so effective? Purple’s attraction has to do with light. Purple hues are the most visible colors to a trout’s eye. What we see as purple, trout see as something brighter, flashier, and more attractive to eat. In the absence of a hatch, tying on a purple dry fly is a good way to find actively feeding fish. To maximize the effect of an attractor color like purple, try using the parachute style fly. Parachute patterns will fall toward the water slowly at the end of the cast because the parachute creates drag and slows the fly's descent which causes them to land softer on the water.
The Purple Haze is similar to a Parachute Adams, and can be used as an attractor pattern or mayfly imitation just like the Adams can. The Purple Haze has quickly become many anglers go-to pattern, and one of the most prolific patterns in the western United States. This fly is tied in a variety of sizes and can match several different Mayflies, Blue Wing Olives, Duns, Drakes, and Tricos.
UV Para Purple Haze is tied the same as the Purple Haze with the addition of some added attractors in the body of the fly. These give the fly some extra visibility in darker water or faster moving water.
Purple Para Wulff is a pattern that is an offshoot of the Purple Haze but combines the Wulff and Parachute styles of flies by using the second wing of the Wulff as a second parachute post to wrap a hackle around. This works best in swifter water where it floats higher and longer, for improved visibility.
HOW TO FISH A PARACHUTE
Fishing a parachute dry fly is not much different than fishing a collar-style dry. However, because parachute patterns are often used in situations when a stealthy presentation is critical, it's a good idea to pay particular attention to the construction of the leader. The leader should be sized to turn the fly over so that the tippet straightens out and allows the fly to touch down softly instead of with a splash. Dependent upon conditions, leaders should be 8 to 10 feet long, including a 4X, 5X, or 6X tippet.
If you want to maximize your fish-catching potential with a Parachute, then one of your highest priorities is to keep the thing floating as high and perky as you possibly can.
Try drying out your flies and applying a liberal coat of floatant every 20 to 30 minutes and/or after every fish you catch. This will not only result in the best possible presentation, but it will keep the fly much more visible on the surface — both of which will help you catch more fish.
Parachute patterns can be fished in tandem with other parachute patterns or smaller emergers. In any case, a lighter tippet will allow for a stealthier presentation. At the other end of the cast from the trout, the fisherman also has an advantage: Parachute flies float well because of the style of the parachute "wing," and that wing sticking up out of the water makes them easy to see in riffled water.
If you’re struggling to keep track of your fly on the water, try trailing it behind an attractor fly, like a Caddis or Stimulator. This will make seeing your fly a lot easier and comes with the added bonus of an extra fly in the water.
Using the correct size is critical. Most anglers are more likely to fish an unnaturally large fly for the insect they want to imitate rather than than a fly too small. Put some effort into getting it just right.
Shop for all of our Purple Flies
Start with our Basics Kits!