Andy Carlson’s Purple Haze

A western trout killer on the Bitterroot and every other stream

A few years ago I got a call from a friend who was living in a yelllow bus on the banks of the BIg Hole River near Dewey, Montana.

Berkley guy in the old days. Now he’s a real trout bum who just follows fish. No wife. No kids. Just fish. Tough deal, right?

Anyway, he was all astir, yelping about a new fly that fish couldn’t refuse and he said, “If this thin is as good as people are saying, and the fish can’t refuse it, I’m done. I’ll give up fishing. It’s going to be like casting pellets at a hatchery.”

“Easy, big guy,” I said. “Remember the San Juan Worm? The Ray Charles? The Yellow Yummy? The P-chute Adams? The beadhead Prince and the Flashback Pheasant Tail?”

“Yea,” my friend responded, “but this thing is purple! It controls a trout’s brain.”

The fly this guy was talking about is the Purple Haze, which was created and popularized by Andy Carlson, and guide and fly tyer who lives in Montana’s Bitterroot Vallley. The fly is, in fact, quite deadly during mayfly emergences and that is why it works so well on a variety of waters, ranging from Washington’s Yakima to Montana’s Big Hole and Missouri, to Idaho’s South Fork Snake and beyond.

It can be tied in the paradun style with a trailing shuck to imitate emergers or it can be tied in classic parachute style to mimic mayfly duns. And this is a pattern that will work soon—the West’s March brown hatches are set to begin in March and April and the Purple Haze, tied in sizes 14 and 16 should rail.
So, I checked out the weather tonight and by Wednesday things are looking pretty good here in Montana. Highs reaching to 40 or more. I’m about as stir crazy as I can get so for the next couple days I’m going to tie some Purple Haze and then on Wednesday I’m going to throw streamers…somewhere.

My advice? Start tying some of these bugs while the weather is still sour and have these things ready for later in March and April.

Purple Haze Recipe

Hook: TMC 100 #14, 16, 18

Thread: Danville Black 6/0

Body: Purple Flex Floss

Tail: Natural brown elk hair

Wingpost: White calf tail

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3 Responses to Andy Carlson’s Purple Haze

  1. Pingback: What colour is a purple sky? - Page 2 - Fly Fishing Forums

  2. Russ says:

    I used the purple haze on the bitterroot in september 2012, and it was fantastic for browns, rainbows and cuts. While it looks like a parachute adams but with a purple body, the fish would not touch the parachute adams, but would literally jump out of the water and come down like a dive bomber for the purple haze. Some of the best catch and release fishing I have done in a long time. Now at home (in Calif.) for the winter tying up a bunch of the purple haze. I also used my purple hazes on the east carson river in calif in October 2012, and it was also the fish of choice for the rainbows.

  3. Pingback: Anyone use purple flies? - Fly Fishing Forums

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