Tying The Clouser Purple Darter

Purple Darter Fly Pattern

The Purple Darter is one of the staple Smallmouth patterns I use. I tie it in 4 sizes: 2, 4, 6, and 8 with the most used being the 4's and 6's.

Material List:

  • Hook: Mustad 3366 in sizes 2, 4, 6, and 8 (or Gamakatsu B10s)
  • Thread: black (or dark olive) Danville 3/0 monocord
  • Black or red lead eyes appropriate for hook size. I don't find it necessary to oversize the lead eyes, since the Purple Darter has ZERO natural bouyancy. It plunges to the bottom easily.
  • Calf Tail (also called Kip Tail): Olive and purple
  • Flash: 4-8 strands of Purple Haze flash and 4-8 strands of red Flashabou.
  • Optional body dubbing: Purple Ice Dub (not part of Clouser's original pattern)

Clouser's Purple Darter fly pattern instructions

Tying steps:

1) Place hook in vise, hook point down. Tie in lead eyes on the top of the hook shank: Wrap the eyes in behind the hook eye. 1/4 to 3/8 inch is usually about right depending on the size of your fly.

2) Cover the hook shank back to the hook bend with thread to set a base for tying in materials.

3) Tie in a clump of purple calf tail starting behind the eyes and extending beyond the hook bend the equivalent of the length of the hook shank. Clean out the shorter fibers at the base of the clump, leaving only the longer, stiff fibers.

4) OPTIONAL: Dub the body with purple Ice Dub to cover the thread wraps over the puple calf tail. Or, cover the calf tail completely with black or dark olive thread.

5) Tie in a clump of olive calf tail on top of the hook in front of the lead eyes. Move your thread back behind the lead eyes and bind the calf tail down just behind the lead eyes with 3-4 tight wraps. Move your thread back in front of the lead eyes and do a half hitch or whip-finish.

6) Turn the fly over (hook point up). Cut 4-8 pieces of red and purple flash (each) and tie it in front of the lead eyes, streaming back over the calf tail. No need to use too many wraps on the flash as you will be adding another material on top of it. Use just use enough thread wraps to hold it in place securely for a few seconds.

7) Cut another clump of olive calf tail. Clean out the shorties and underfur and tie it in by the tip immediately behind the eye of the hook. Then add a small drop of superglue on the butts and thread wraps. (Calf tail is kinda slick and can be tricky to tie in. The superglue on the butts helps hold the fly together.) To finish the fly off, wrap the thread the rest of the way to cover the calf tail butts and make a uniform head shaped like a bullet.

8) Lightly epoxy the head around the eyes to secure all of the material and add weight and durability to the head of the fly.