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The Ultimate Adventure: Crafting and Fishing with the Purple Haze Fly Pattern

The Ultimate Adventure: Crafting and Fishing with the Purple Haze Fly Pattern

For many anglers, the thrill of fishing goes beyond just the act of casting a line. It begins at the vise, where creativity and precision come together to create the perfect fly. Among the myriad of patterns available, one has become a staple in the fly boxes of many anglers across the western United States and around the world – the Purple Haze. Created by Andy Carlson over 15 years ago, this versatile attractor pattern is reminiscent of the Parachute Adams with a similar silhouette, imitating a variety of mayflies and midges with remarkable success.

But why stop at the traditional dry fly? The beauty of fly tying is the endless possibilities for adaptation. Let’s dive into how you can transform the Purple Haze into different fly patterns to match various stages of aquatic insect life, and how this can enhance your fishing adventures.

The Origin and Rise of the Purple Haze

Andy Carlson’s Purple Haze emerged on the scene over a decade ago and quickly became a favorite among anglers for its effectiveness in imitating a range of insects. Much like the Parachute Adams, the Purple Haze features a parachute hackle that allows it to sit perfectly on the water’s surface, making it highly visible to both fish and anglers. Its distinct purple hue adds an extra element by matching the shade of a variety of shades, making it irresistible to trout.

Adapting the Purple Haze for Various Fishing Conditions

Soft Hackle (Spider) Patterns

Soft hackle patterns, or spiders, are incredibly effective for imitating emergers and nymphs. By adapting the Purple Haze into a soft hackle, you create a pattern that can be fished subsurface, adding a new dimension to your fishing strategy.  This is perfect to be tied as a dropper off your Purple Haze Dry Fly or Nymph Pattern.


Cripple patterns represent insects that are stuck in the process of emerging and are particularly vulnerable to predation. Adapting the Purple Haze into a cripple pattern involves trimming the hackle on one side and allowing the other to splay out, creating a lifelike, struggling insect. This can be particularly effective during mayfly hatches when fish key in on these easy targets.


Emerger patterns are designed to imitate insects transitioning from nymphs to adults. To create a Purple Haze emerger, tie the fly with a shuck of trailing antron or similar material at the tail to represent the emerging exoskeleton. Keep the parachute hackle but use less material to ensure the fly sits lower in the water, mimicking the vulnerable emerger.

Purple Haze Hackle Stacker Emerger Tying Tutorial:

Purple Haze Hackle Stacker Emerger Materials List:

  1. Hook: Moonlit Premium TOGATTA ML102 sz8-20
  2. Thread: Semperfli Classic Waxed 12/0 Purple
  3. Tail: Semperfli Tail Fibre Fibbets Claret
  4. Body: Magpie Premium Wild Barred Turkey Biot Purple
  5. Thorax: Moonlit Beaver Dubbing Purple
  6. Hackle: Dark Barred Ginger Saddle
  7. Post: 1lb Fishing Line/6x-7x Tippet
  8. Glue: Loctite Super Glue w/Brush Applicator


Nymph patterns are essential for subsurface fishing. To adapt the Purple Haze into a nymph, tie the fly without the parachute post and hackle. Use a heavier bead head to ensure it sinks quickly, and incorporate the signature purple body. This variation is perfect for fishing deeper waters where nymphs are naturally found.

The Excitement of Customization

The adventure of fly fishing truly begins at the vise. By experimenting with different adaptations of the Purple Haze, you not only enhance your fly collection but also deepen your understanding of aquatic insect behavior and fish feeding patterns. Each variation opens up new possibilities and strategies, making every fishing trip an opportunity for discovery and success.

Tips for Successful Adaptations

Match the Hatch: Pay attention to the insects present in your favorite fishing spots. Use these observations to guide your adaptations of the Purple Haze.
Experiment with Sizes: Tying the Purple Haze in various sizes can help match different species and stages of insects, increasing your chances of a successful catch.
Test and Adjust: Try out your new patterns on the water and be ready to make adjustments. Sometimes a slight change in hackle length or body material can make a significant difference.


The Purple Haze is more than just a fly pattern; it's a gateway to a more immersive and rewarding fishing experience. By adapting this versatile pattern into soft hackles, cripples, emergers, and nymphs, you can tackle a wide range of fishing conditions and challenges. So, grab your tying tools, unleash your creativity, and embark on an adventure that starts at the vise and leads to your favorite fishing waters. The excitement of the catch is only the beginning.

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