This is the sixth installment of the Magnificent 7, a list of seven different fly patterns that I believe will keep your fly box organized and populated with proven patterns, ready to entice trout on practically any stream or lake . Flies covered in this series to date are The Birds Nest, Zebra Midge, Pheasant Tail Nymph, Super Floss Rubber Legs, and the Elk Hair Caddis. In this post, fly #6 is the Parachute Adams.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
Fly Fishing Fly Selection Refined
Fly Pattern #6: The Adams Dry Fly
The Adams dry fly, all of them squashed in your fly box, is a big part of not only your fabled fly fishing history, but the very history of modern american fly fishing can be traced all the way back to the development of this vintage fly pattern.
The Adams dry fly history depicts a heartfelt story of two old friends, fishing fly rods and flies on the Bordman river, located in Grand Traverse and Kalkaska Counties in Northwestern Michigan. My take on the details of how this pattern came to be are biased, coming from many glorious years on the water, and all the amusing anglers I have been fortunate to know. This article, found in the Traverse City Record Eagle, describes the life of the Adams, the fly author Len Halladay and the festival associated with it. A festival for a fly pattern? Not a bad idea!
The Adams has produced rainbow trout on every stream, lake and river here in northern California. Did you know Fall River, the Lower Sacramento River, the McCloud River, Upper Sacramento are just a few of the local rivers where the Adams fly produces smiles, bent fly rods and giggles. All the trout infused lakes within a 2 hour drive of Redding California produce callibaetis hatches and rainbows who willingly fall for the callibaetis-like Adams dry fly. So, how did this fly come to be?
Adams & Len. Not what you think.
It all started with a hatch on a river in Michigan. Back in oh, say…1922..sonny. Judge Charlie Adams was fishing his beloved Bordman River in Michigan when he experienced an insect hatch he could not identify! (Ya know…don’t ya got to fish a river and really get to know it’s hatches, seasons and all before you can say you’re “one-with-it”? If Charlie can’t identify an insect hatch on his “beloved river”, well that’s like saying he can’t identify a birthmark on his wife. What could that hatch have been? A grey drake hatch? Blue wing olives? Tricos? It was a mystery to the late Judge Charles Adams who no doubt spent an unassailable amount of time pestering the waters of Michigan. But, for the sake of the story, we’ll just say the Boardman was his beloved river. Okay?….gag).
So, as the story goes, the Judge wanders over to his buddy’s place after haplessly submitting everything in his fly box to the rising multitudes of fins. Len Halladay was his chum’s name. Len was a Hotel Keeper and hardcore angler. The Judge asked Len to tie him a new fly. One that would imitate the “new hatch” he just discovered, for the first time ever, on his “beloved” Boardman River, in Michigan. So, Len Halladay, being an accomplished, proven virtuoso of the vice, and steward of the Boardman river, sat down at his vice because he had too. You see, the Judge wanted a new fly. A new fly because none of his flies would work on his beloved Boardman River.
Len Halladay rummaged through his slight collection of diminishing fur, feathers, thread and hooks loosely found in the bins, boxes and drawers of an old desk, veiled in an era of fly tying that is long gone. The thick-set Judge reclined on the wicker rocking chair, ambivalent and pensive, his fishing time disintegrating.
With a pinch of grey wool, wings from a Rhode Island Red rooster and a blind hook, Len Halladay assembled a pattern known as the “Halladay Fly”. It would pacify the Judge Charlie Adams for the rest of that day.
The next day, the Judge returned to Len’s Hotel to shoot the shat. Expounding for hours, the Judge recited his recollections of his expert angling the day
before, and the day before that and so on. In passing, The great Judge Charlie Adams mentioned how the fly pattern Len tied, without his personal judicially powered determination, would never have seen the waters of any stream, or caught countless trout, by his own hand, on his beloved river, the Bordman. The Judge, being subdued in a very personal way, his own importance and genuine ability resonating within, named the fly after the very architect of fly fishing merit. He named it “Adams”.
And so, the Halladay Fly became known as the Adams. Yes, Halladay may very well have named it after his good friend, but if I know fishing, it happened more closely to my interpretation.
A fly tied to imitate nothing in particular, but almost every aquatic insect trout chomp on. Tie the Adams in a #14 and it’s a proven callibaetis dun. Tied in #16-18, it’s a blue wing olive. Tied in #12, it’s a grey drake and tied bigger it could be a green drake or even a hexagenia if tied as big as #6! Trim the hackles or singe the underbody with a lighter, and the Adams fishes flush in the surface film, imitating an emerging mayfly or crippled caddis.
The perfect fly for all of us “Judges” out there, when we can’t figure out what is happening on our beloved river, somewhere in Montana where the fishing is always good and everyone has been fishing for 40 years, looking good and feeling good in the latest waders, Boron fly rod and $165.00 cowboy hat. Let’s face it, the Adams fly really works well. Arguably the most productive dry-fly ever produced and cast over rising trout for the past 90 years. Thanks Judge Charles Adams.
Want to catch rainbows on your Adams? Book a guided fly fishing trip with Chris Parsons between April and early May, and catch rainbows on the Adams!
Please post any comments below!! I get many great questions that everyone could benefit from, but they are delivered to my email address. Use my contact form/email for private comments, but general comments and ideas should be shared. More fun that way! Please post below and I will respond! :-)
Now for the Adams dry fly recipe:
|Hook:||TFS 100, sizes 12-20|
|Thread:||MFC 6/0 Tying Thread, black|
|Body:||Super-Fine Dry Fly Dubbing, Adams grey|
|Hackle:||Dry Fly Hackle, grizzly and brown mixed|
|Wing:||Dry Fly Hackle, grizzly tips|
|Tail:||Dry Fly Hackle, grizzly and brown mixed|