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Purple Peril
By Ken Driedger, British Columbia, Canada

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Fly Tying Terms

Purple Peril (Variant)

The Peril, is a very successful fly in the Skeena drainage (British Columbia, Canada) that's slowly falling out of favour, being replaced by all manners of leech patterns and wooley buggers. But some rods in the know continue to fish the Peril with excellent results. Purple is now recognized as a staple steelhead colour.

Materials List:

Hooks:  Salmon 2/0 - 4

Thread:  Unithread 6/0 Wine, (or: purple, fire orange, black).

Rib:  Fine oval silver tinsel.

Tag:  Fine oval silver tinsel.

Tail:  Red Calf.

Body:  Dubbed purple seal, or substitute.

Hackle: Purple schlappen, 3 turns.

Wing:  Any of the squirrels: Pine, Red, Brown, Grey.

Tying Instructions:

1.  Start the tag with the 'tag end' facing to the eye of the hook, ensuring the wraps are now wound forward to the eye, not rearward to the bend. The tag can be started on the shank, tension obtained, and then slid into position over the bend of the hook. Fine oval tinsel works best in a bobbin, permitting gravity and the bobbin to maintain tension.

2.  Establish the tying thread, and tie in the tail.

3.  Dub a medium body, and wrap in the opposite direction around the hook shank than the tinsel.

4.  Wind hackle forward 6-7 turns to front of body, tie in and trim excess.

5.   Tie off, and rib with the continuation of the tag, effectively counterwinding the body. Note: if a bobbin is not used, then use extra care in wrapping, as thin tinsel is fragile. Use a pair of hackle pliers to keep tension on the remainder.

6.  After ribbing, pick out the body to plump it up.

7.   Tie in a schlappen by the butt, and wrap three turns. Schlappen is usually nice and thin in the stem.

8.  Now the tricky part: Coming up with a reasonably neat, small head, yet still tying a fuller wing. One way is: Mentally size the wing before trimming off the tail, and allowing a minimum of 1/4 inch extra length. This extra length is placed in front of the turns, giving your scissors something to cut.

9.  Place three turns of thread using moderate tension on your wing.

10. Then, trim the ends very close to the thread wraps. This is where the extra length comes into play: you can hang on to the tag ends, and trim close to the wraps.

11. Next, put a small drop of superglue on the butts, and two more turns of thread on them, and slowly "ease" the ends under the wraps, being careful not to pull the wing right off the fly!!

12. As the superglue will set up fairly fast, you will need to move hastily after the glue is applied. You may need more than three initial, and 2 supplemental thread wraps. Complete the head, whip finish, and varnish.

Fishing the Fly:

The Peril is a wet/damp pattern, and is fished in the traditional wet ways during all periods of the season.

During the earlier, warmer phase of the season,the fly fishes well with a dry line and a riffle hitch, barely under the water's surface. Fish interested in this presentation will be very aggressive, chasing well, and taking hard.

Later, as the water cools, a sink tip presentation with a traditional/classic downstream quarter cast will serve the rodster well. Either a straight-out 90 degree cast and a swing, or (my personal favourite) a 45 degree cast and the shorter swing this gives, with hits and takes coming anywhere through the arc.

The bulk of action takes place about halfway through the cast, with a few rogue fish coming to the downstream hang and choppy retrieve for the first few feet. I prefer the shorter arc, as it is faster, so one covers the swim quicker. Casts are lengthened by about ten feet for three casts, then a rod length or two wade to a lower station, and repeat until the swim is covered to the sport's satisfaction.

The last of the season is an endurance contest. The water is approaching the freezing mark...about 38 degrees... and the outside air is pretty much the same. The Peril should be permitted to fish to the stones on a short leader and sink tip line, in the gut, sweet-spot, heart, and other term for the soft, oily waters that late fall early winter serves up. A cast 90 degrees across, a bigger (up to 2/0) fly, and a 90 degree cast with upsteam mends all will promote submarine mode...and the chance to hook into one of those fly-stopping, head-shaking, leader-rolling bucks making the numb limbs and subsequent unthaw discomfort all worthwhile. The thought of 20 plus pounds of chrome and scarlet making short stong runs keeps me going !!!!

I hope you will go nostalgic, and try the famed Purple Peril in your favourite swim. Remember to check for wind-knots, and inspect all joining knots carefully before angling. Too much life-force went into the fishing to lose a fish to a poor knot in the system, or a wind-knot in the trace. ~ Ken Driedger

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