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Why Purple?

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In the Little Red Book of Fly Fishing, Kirk Deeter has a writeup on the color purple. In this writeup he writes "One theory is that purple catches fishes' eyes better than other shades. Among trout, for example, we know, according to Dr. Robert Behnke, author of Trout and Salmon in North America, that the cones in the retinas of trout eyes are more receptive to shades on the blue side of the spectrum." He goes on to say that "when they're on a hatch, matching size and color is key, but when they are just opportunity feeding, gaudy is better". I have actually used purple PT's on my home stream with good success. It's not my "go to" color, but I have used it as a second or third choice. On one particular day I nailed two 20-inch trout using the fly so I can say that I am a believer in purple flies.

 

I think Behnke has it right. Most of the time, trout are not feeding selectively and are sampling the drift. Since fish don't have hands, the only way they can tell if something food or not food is to "sample" it.

 

There is nothing natural that looks like a Royal Wulff but a Royal Wulff is the most successful dry fly attractor.

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"One theory is that purple catches fishes' eyes better than other shades.

I guess that is what everybody agrees on. The why it catches their eye is the question, better visibility due to contrast is still my theory. The fact that the blue in it reflects light deeper and further adds to that visibility. I think of black as a shade of purple, it being a tertiary color easily accomplished by adding a bit of yellow to a dark purple, again as Mike pointed out the red and yellow fade with depth or distance and the blue would remain visible. The theory that fish may see blue better just makes visibility a more likely answer. .

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I don't really use purple. I've never had any luck with purple soft plastic baits. The only fish I ever caught on anything purple was a weakfish on a fly designed to imitate a red and whited buck tail jig with a purple fire tail worm which was a hot bait for weakies back in the 90's. I used purple estaz for the body and tail which was tipped with hot pink marabou. I do use lavender as a highlight on some of my minnow and peanut bunker patterns.

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"If one learns anything about flytying it is the fact that he seldom learns anything that would hold up in a court of law."

 

George F. Grant, The Master Fly Weaver

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Philly, believe me, you're in a minority. I've only fish freshwater fish over the years but purple is one of my go-to colors for about everything I fish. I do like to experiment with variety but purple is always a good choice. In trout fishing the Purple Haze has replaced the Adams as the standard go-to dry fly in many parts of the country.

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Philly, believe me, you're in a minority. I've only fish freshwater fish over the years but purple is one of my go-to colors for about everything I fish. I do like to experiment with variety but purple is always a good choice. In trout fishing the Purple Haze has replaced the Adams as the standard go-to dry fly in many parts of the country.

And the Snipe and Purple has been catching trout for several hundred years now. I wouldn't be without it.

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It's not just on this side of the pond. Besides the Snipe and Purple, Kite's Imperial and variations of that pattern still really work well, and have since it came out in the sixties.

 

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I may have spoken an un-truth earlier when I said we don't have anything purple in our waters up here. Grayling have hues of purple in them (or lavender), they are in almost all of our fresh water and, of course, they would be a common forage fish.

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