The post on the Purple Spawning Spey got me thinking about purple flies in general. I've always carried a few Purple Perils in my fly box. For those of you who are not familiar with it, it's a fly that Ken McLeod first tied in the late 1930's. The story is that he was planning to tie some Montreals and ordered a supply of burgundy hackle from Herter's (at that time one of the few reliable sources of fly tying materials). Through some mischance he received purple hackle instead and used it to create the Purple Peril, generally considered to be the first purple steelhead fly. It featured a purple hackle-fiber tail, purple yarn body, flat silver tinsel tip and rib, purple hackle and a deer body hair wing. Some folks substitute purple chenille for the yarn and and I usually use the brown hair from the back of a bucktail for the wing. Many years later Ken even tied and fished it dry with considerable success. I hooked my first winter steelhead on a Purple Peril many years ago on the Tolt River, which probably accounts for my fondness for it. Another great-looking but little-known fly that features purple hackle is Frank Headrick's Hellcat. Frank is one of the last remaining members of that group of fly fishermen who pioneered steelhead flyfishing in Washington on the North Fork of the Stillaguamish in the late 'thirties and 'forties. The Hellcat has a silver tinsel tip, a tail of a single golden pheasant crest feather about 2/3 the length of the body, and a body of fluorescent hot pink (cerise?) chenille with a silver tinsel rib. The hackle is purple and the wing is bucktail or calf (if you've got polar bear use it on this one) with another golden pheasant crest feather laid over the top. The tail should curve up and the topping down, so that the two crest feathers "frame" the wing and touch (or nearly so) at the tips.