The Colors of Winter –Blue and purple flies are taking winter by storm . I was just unpacking my first fly shipment of the new year and notices the # of different patterns that we are getting that are purple or blue. In the last few years we have noticed that the Fly companies have really been cranking out purple and blue colored bugs. It’s for good reason that this purple haze that has fallen on most anglers isn’t going to just go up in smoke. In recent years, there have been some very in-depth study into what Trout see. Considering that vision is a key element to Trout’s ability to survive.
Humans have 3 color receptors, red, green and Blue. Trout have four color receptors. They see the reds, greens and blues seen by humans but with some differences — what an angler sees as a dark red lure is perceived as bright red by the trout. But with the fourth set of color receptors, trout can sometimes detect ultra-violet frequencies as low as 355 nanometers, below the spectrum visible to humans.
Small bits of fluorescent color don’t imitate anything natural. but they can create a hot spot. A bit of fluorescent orange, yellow or pink absorbs UV rays and projects that back into the visible spectrum. It’s not really visible to them on the surface or just under the water, but it gets more visible the deeper you get.”
Sparkle materials in flies, and gold or silver spinner blades, can have a similar effect, sending glimmers of hot light through the water, often triggering an instinctive strike response among stocked trout. Trout can see dark colors in deeper, darker water, that’s why purple and blue are very effective during this time of year. Light absorption also has a lot to do with what the Trout can see, that’s a whole other topic.
We have always fished a lot of black, gray and red since I can remember during the winter months. But in the last few years I have seen the color change in my winter nymphing boxes. Purple Poison Tungsten? Got it. Purple Haze? Got it. Blue Lightning Bug? Got it. Blue Zebra Midge? Got it…And if you haven’t fish the purple Squirmy Worm in winter, well then…
The reason that we have gravitated to the purple and blue flies, especially in winter is because we are generally fishing deeper water with already less light. Studies have shown that trout see blue and purple better in deeper water, which is where the fish are holding. Also the UV fly tying materials have really caught on and can create great visuals in deeper water. It’s February so get your purple on!