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Purple Haze Pattern & Tying Instructions

Fly Tying Recipe: Purple Haze
Standard dry-fly hook (e.g. Dai-Riki #305), sizes 10-20.
Purple, 6/0 or 70 denier.
Speckled moose-body hair.
Wing post:
White calf-body hair.
Glue #1:
Fly Tyers Z-Ment.
Brown and grizzly.
Glue #2:
Sally Hansen Hard As Nails.
Show / Hide Purple Haze Transcript

Video Transcript:

This is a size 12 Purple Haze tied by none other than it's originator Andy Carlson, the owner and operator of Bitterroot Anglers in Hamilton, Montana. Andy came up with the Purple Haze in 2000 and it caught on like wildfire, particularly in the west. A friend of mine, Bill Ninke, has fished with Andy for years, and on a recent trip, got him to pass along some of the inside skinny on the Purple Haze. Andy's a commercial tier and has some interesting tricks like preparing enough calf body hair for numerous wing posts all at once. He also places the wing post at about the 60% point on the hook shank, as opposed to the standard 75, to better balance the fly on the water. Andy wraps the hackles counterclockwise, first up the post then back down before holding the tips in place with his left index finger and tying them off. He also doesn't use a hair stacker but instead uses a shallow cardboard box or just his fingertips. And this one's pretty wild, he uses Shellac as head and body cement. For a time, he used Flexi-floss for the body, but switched back to thread to increase the fly's durability.

Andy uses purple 6/0 Unithread but I'm a bit more comfortable with 70 Denier Ultra thread. With all that said, here's how I tie a Purple Haze.

For a hook, I'm going to use a Dai-Riki #305 in a size 12.

Begin by getting your ever-so-purple tying thread secured to the hook shank, leaving some space behind the eye, and take a few wraps rearward before snipping off the tag. Andy uses speckled moose body hair for the tails and so I'll do the same. For this size 12 about 8 hairs works well. Before you stack them, be sure to remove the wispy underfur from the butts.

Once stacked, and with the tips aligned, measure the hair to form a tail approximately a hook shank in length and then secure it to the top of the hook shank with touching wraps of tying thread. Take wraps all the way back to the start of the hook bend and then make nice even wraps back up to the tie-in point. Lift the butt ends to vertical and snip them off close.

White calf body hair is used for the wing post. Snip a small clump free from the hide and then strip out the lighter, shorter hairs from the clump, you'll find there are quite a few. Give the clump a good stacking to align the tips and then get hold of them with your right hand. Transfer the bundle to your left hand and measure to form a wing post about a hook shank in length.

Secure the calf hair to the top of the hook shank with a pinch wrap and take a few nice tight wraps rearward to anchor it in place. Lift the butts slightly and cut them off at an angle which will help to form a nicely tapered abdomen. Take wraps rearward to cover the butts and then fill in the taper. Lift the hair tips to vertical and make a thread dam in front to prop them up.

Fly tiers Z-ment from Wapsi and Zap is a great new product that works really well for stabilizing wing posts. Just the smallest drop placed at the base is plenty. Usually one or two wraps of tying thread is all it takes for the glue to set off and form a very stable wing post on which the hackle will be wrapped. End with your tying thread in front of the wing.

Both brown and grizzly hackles are used on the Purple Haze, just like on an Adams. The better the hackle you use, the happier you'll be with the results. For parachutes, I like hackles that are slightly undersized for the hook, like this one that's right on the border between a 12 and a 14. Prepare both hackles by snipping off the stem where things start to get webby and then strip the barbules from both sides for about 1/4 of an inch. Lay the prepared hackles together, secure the stripped stems to the near side of the hook shank and take wraps all the way up to the eye. Then take wraps rearward to right up against the post. Bend the hackles up to vertical and make clockwise wraps to secure the bare stems to the post. Next, wind your thread back down and leave it hang on the near side of the hook. I like to wrap the hackles individually but you can certainly do them both together. As with the thread, wrap them in a clockwise direction. Here the shiny side of the hackle faces up which is just my personal preference. Take wraps all the way down to the hook shank and then secure the hackle tip with a couple wraps of tying thread around it and the wing post. Do your best not to trap hackle fibers in the process. Then get hold of the other hackle and do the same, kind of winding your way through the first one. Again, secure the tip with a couple wraps of tying thread around the post.

Now, if you're like me, you've probably trapped a lot of errant hackle fibers in the process, don't sweat it. A sharp pair of fine-tipped scissors will have things cleaned up in a jif. You can whip finish on the hook shank but I've gotten really used to doing it on the wing post. You do have to worry a bit about trapping fibers but at least you know none will be blocking the hook eye. Four to five turns should do it. You can then snip or cut your tying thread free.

If you've collected more errant fibers, simply snip them off close. Although I'd like to try Shellac someday, here I'm going to stick with Hard as Nails to coat the underside of the fly. Once it soaks in and dries, the fly should be just about bulletproof.

Once you get up and rolling, you can tie a bunch in fairly short order. I can't even imagine how quickly Andy Carlson can tie them.