A real corker of a dry fly. Invented by Oliver Kite back in 1962 as a Baetis rhodani (Large Dark Olive) dun imitation.
Kite states that pattern was a straightforward imitation of a specimen taken from the River Teifi near Port Llanio in March 1962.
Kite used this fly pretty much exclusively as his only dry fly towards the end of his life which is hardly surprising as it is an excellent imitator of any of the Olives, Iron Blues and Blue winged Olives and even at times Pale Wateries and this comes from the effect of the wet purple thread interplaying with the heron herl.
The name was coined by F.W. Holiday of Pembroke based on the purple and gold which were ‘imperial’ colours.
Interestingly the Welsh and Irish fish this pattern wet by substituting cock hackles for hen hackles and it is a renowned taker of sea trout when fished like this.
The pattern was original an early season pattern but by stepping down from a 14 to a 16 after Mid-May and slightly modifying the colours of the tail it continues to be effective whenever upwings are on the hatch throughout the season. Also Kite noted that true Honey Dun Hackles were difficult to come by and he regularly substituted Ginger Hackles in their place which didn’t (and doesn’t) affect their success.