When I began tying flies in the 80’s, the classic Adams ruled top five lists of “must have” flies. It did not imitate anything; it imitated everything, if that makes any sense. It was characterized as a general buggy looking dry fly that could pass for many different aquatic food sources of trout. I can remember reading several articles where accomplished fly fishermen swore they never carried any flies on the water except for a size 14 or 16 Adams. A classic Adams possessed a pair of barred grizzly hackle tips for wings, a medium gray body, brown hackle fiber tails and grizzly and brown hackle wound around the hook shank behind and in front of the wing. The distinguishing characteristic of this tie to me was the barred hackle tip wings.
Fast forward to 2015, and as with most things, there are all manner of permutations of the Adams. There are Adams wet flies and Adams dry flies with wings that are angled backward. Some were created with egg sacs, and an array of materials have been substituted for the wings, body and tails. At what point does an Adams cease to be one and become a totally different fly? Of course I probably skipped the most significant variation of the Adams; the parachute Adams.
My fishing friend Danny has been joining me for fly tying sessions on Tuesday nights, and I introduced him to many of my productive favorites. Two weeks ago, however, I completed my standards so I asked him what he would like to tie. Danny quickly replied, “parachute Adams”. I had not tied any of these for quite some time, so I agreed we would produce some. Before we started, we viewed a YouTube video where a tier demonstrated how to tie off the parachute hackle against the wing post instead of to the hook shank. I prefer this method as it greatly reduces the risk of trapping hackle fibers in front of the wing while tying off and whip finishing. Danny began with a white poly wing post while I elected to attach calf body hair. The originator was probably shuddering at this scandalous defamation of the classic Adams and the substitution for two barred hackle tips.
Danny produced a very passable first prototype and then proceeded to knock out eleven more and took home a dozen beautiful parachute Adams dry flies. With each fly, Danny’s wing post and tie off improved until his flies surpassed the quality of store bought imitations. I meanwhile churned out five, and three left the vise with calf tail wings while two possessed pink poly wings. After I completed five, I moved on to another new fly pattern I planned to test in 2015, but that is the subject of another post.
May the Adams live forever in all its different forms. It appeals to all fishermen and all fish.