Purple Propeller Fly
Flies With a Story


Fly Tied By: John "Gummie Bear" Dolan
Designed By:
Mark Zahn
Story By: John Dolan
Home: Casper, Wyoming
E-mail: gummie1@juno

John has been fishing for close to 50 years. As a youngster he began a "love affair" with the Bois Brule River in northern Wisconsin. He returns to fish the Brule with family and friends at least once each year. At the time this story was written (November, 2001) John and his wife were celebrating their 31st wedding anniversary! John is currently in public relations with a local utility company.


"... the 'snag' moved toward mid-river with an unhurried, steady pull...."

I was fishing the infamous Outhouse Hole (often called the $hi77er in disgust) on the North Platte River, Wyoming, below Gray Reef dam with my fishing partner and close friend, Mark Zahn (Paula of CNN fame's older brother). The day was about ten years ago and I remember it as a clear and cold December morning near Christmas. The fishing was slow, as you might expect. Mark and I had rotated through the drift several times and managed to pop a couple of mid-size fish (about 18 inches on the Platte)....

Mark began dead drifting a Purple Propeller Fly (a concoction he dreamed up probably after one too many beers).  Without much fanfare or even a shout; he just set the hook on a snag.... Mark repeated shaking his fly rod, trying to loosen the fly, when the "snag" moved toward mid-river with an unhurried, steady pull. Typically, we fish 8-weights with 2 or 3X tippets in the winter.... For about 40 seconds there was no give and no changing of the fish's controlled movement... then the change of direction and the downstream burst... the sudden stop... then nothing... We guessed it was a BIG brown since it never came to the surface.... Mark is an "expert" at catching suckers, and this was definitely NOT ol' Bugle Lips....

Later, around New Year's Day, a grandfather and his grandson were fishing about four miles downstream with some spinning tackle and landed a 22-pounder (yes twenty-two pounds) at the Lusby takeout.... Could it have been the same fish??? Maybe.... I continue to carry a Purple Propeller Fly that Mark gave me that day but I am afraid to use it in fear I might lose it to a big brown....

-- John "Gummie Bear" Dolan

Purple Propeller Fly as tied by John Dolan

 Photo by Peter Frailey

Tying Sequence:

Hook: Size 6 to 12, 4XL. Dai Riki 710 shown here.
Propeller: Flanked by small brass bead on each side
Thread: Black 3/0
Tail: Purple marabou
Body: Purple medium chenille
Hackle: Purple or black saddle hackle, counter wrapped, or substitute Canadian blood mohair leech yarn


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