This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is the Purple Spectral Parachute.

Purple Spectral Parachute |
Tied by Rick Lester

We stopped at Chuck Stranahan’s Flies & Guides on a recent fly fishing road trip to see what we could find. The Purple Spectral Parachute is one of his hallmark flies.

Chuck talked a lot about UV and how trout see colors we don’t. He believes the UV rays that reflect out of the mayfly wing are colors in the rainbow and pink is one of them. Since you and I don’t see UV colors, we only see the gray mayfly wing. In addition, the purple body almost looks like a mahogany color when placed under a UV lamp.

I was impressed at the quality of flies I found in his bins. Either he ties them or has a group of local fly tyers tying his flies. This sign caught my eye and really summarizes it well.

Chuck Stranahan's Flies Sign |

We ended up having a nice conversation with Chuck. He has been in Hamilton, MT a long time and I asked him to pick out a few flies that I might use for some of my Throw Back Thursday Flies.

Chuck bought an existing shop 32 years ago named the Frustrated Fisherman. He changed the name to Riverbend, but had problems with other types of businesses using the same name. In addition, he would go to trade shows under the Riverbend name and told people his name. People would drive through Hamilton specifically looking for him, but couldn’t find a shop with his name in the title. That’s when he decided to change the name of his shop to – Chuck Stranahan’s Flies & Guides.

He stated his fly shop is the longest running shop under continuous management west of the Continental Divide in Montana, a fact he’s proud of. Other fly shops might have been around longer, but have been sold several times. His shop has been in four different locations, but has stayed in it’s current location for the last 10 or 12 years.

Chuck Stranahan's Flies & Guides |

Here is a portion of Chuck’s bio from his WEBSITE:

He began fly tying at eight, and was tying flies commercially at age twelve. He fly-tied his way through college as an Orvis commercial fly tyer and through a ten-year career in education, before opening a full-time fly shop in 1979.

He learned the fly tying craft from masters such as Cal Bird, Polly Rosborough, Darwin Atkins, and Andre Puyans. His style blends their techniques with his own innovations. His fly patterns are becoming standards throughout the West, and are featured in books by Jack Dennis, Gary LaFontaine, Greg Thomas, John Holt, and Randall Kaufmann.

He learned flycasting and fly rod design and manufacture from some of the masters who shaped the sport, beginning as a college student in San Francisco on the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club ponds. Over the years he fished with many of these same mentors, honing his own skills as an angler.

Chuck Stranahan |

If you are planning to fish the Bitterroot River around Hamilton, MT, I highly recommend stopping by the shop and checking out his quality flies. I hope you’ll be as impressed as I am!

Enjoy…go fish!

Similar Posts


  1. Thanks for the inclusion of my flies in your posts. John. I’m both humbled and grateful. I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with you and Karen in the shop – if you plan to visit the area again let’s continue the conversation – on the stream.
    A slight correction is in order; as far as I know, my shop is the oldest under continuous management west of the divide in Montana. I’m sure there are others older than mine if you spread the map a little further. Again, thanks for featuring my flies and I look forward to more time with you folks.

    1. Chuck

      Thanks for leaving a Comment and highlighting a correction to the post…I’ve added the words “in Montana” to clarify your statement.

      We plan to return to the Bitterroot Valley. Perhaps we can get together.


  2. I fished a number of streams in Ireland last month and my Gilly told me to use a purple parachute. I caught a lot of fish on it, now I’m hooked.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.