The Adams

The Adams is a North American standard that has been used all over the world as a utility dry fly for taking trout species. The pattern originated from Michigan in the early 1920s. It is an easy pattern to tie in its original style with grizzly feather tips for wing, grizzly and brown barbs for tail, muskrat for body and both grizzly and brown hackles. The pattern also can be tied with a variety of other materials, as indicated in the instructions below and it often is tied in a parachute style. This is a pattern that should be in everyone’s fly box, especially in sizes 14 and 10. Materials for the pattern are as follows:

  • Hook: Daiichi 1170 in size 10 and 1110 in size 12-16
  • Thread: Black or grey Danville’s 6/0 or Gudebrod 8/0
  • Wing: White calf tail
  • Tail: Amber Anton
  • Body: Grey supper fine, micro fine dry fly dubbing or natural muskrat
  • Hackle: Whiting Farms Grizzly or grizzly and brown rooster saddle or cape

Tying the Adams:

1. Bend the barb down as the hook is placed in the vise and start the thread at mid-shank with a reverse jam knot. Wrap the thread to eye, counter spinning the thread to flatten and lay each thread wrap side-by-side; don’t overlap thread wraps to maintain a flat thread base. Wrap thread 2/3 back from eye towards tie-in point of thread or mid-shank. The thread will hang 1/3 of shank back from the eye as the tie-in point for the wing. I find laying the initial thread base on half the hook shank allows me to visually judge proportions more accurately.

2. Cut a bunch of white calf tail hair and stack to even ends. Calf tail will not stack perfectly even due to crinkly nature and that is fine. You will learn to judge the amount of hair with experience; too much hair can be removed as needed, but it is difficult to add hair. Remove hair to discard reversed hairs and re-stack hair. Remove hair from stacker with tips pointing towards hook eye with fingers of right-handed. Hold bunch equal to shank length with tips forward between left thumb and opposing middle finger and tie-in where thread hangs in step 1. Hold bunch on top of shank, make two thread wraps side-by-side and towards hook bend and pull thread up to tighten hair bunch down on top of shank. Continue thread wraps half way towards hook bend, tightening thread upward with each wrap. Cut ends of hair and wrap thread, always side-by-side to keep thread base flat, to tie-in point of wing, wrap thread in front of wing to eye and back to wing, holding wing upward to force thread wraps under front of wing base to hold wing upward. Make one thread wrap behind wings and leave thread hanging.

3. Post and divide the calf tail wing equally by pushing thumb nail at front of wing base towards rear of hook. Rock thumb nail slightly from side-to-side and the wing material will separate perfectly into two equal portions on each side of hook. Make four figure eights to post and separate wings and finish with thread wrap behind wing bases. Make three thread wraps around far wing and finish with thread behind wing to finish posting the far wing. Make three thread wraps around base of near wing, finishing with thread behind wing base to finish posting wings. Wrap thread to hook bend, above barb, and leave hanging.

4. Tie in Anton on top of hook shank for tail. Tie tail in on top of shank similar to method of tying on wing material. Hold tail up to keep on top of shank and wrap thread forward to base of wing and back to tie-in point of tail. Make one thread wrap behind and under tail to hold up slightly and one wrap over tail at tie-in point. Cut Anton for tail, leaving a length that is approximately equal to shank length. Leave thread hanging at hook bend.

5. Pull sparse pinch of dubbing and tease out into noodle. Amount should be sufficient to wrap the body or abdomen to approximately mid-point of shank; sparse is better, allowing additional dubbing to be added to thread if needed to complete body. Apply dubbing to thread by twisting far end of noodle onto thread by twisting thumb over thread towards rear of hook, approximately ½ inch from shank. Place finger along bottom of thread and far end of noodle and slide to underside of hook shank at rear tie-in point. Make two wraps of thread with dubbing to trap far ends of noodle on hook. Twist remaining dubbing onto thread from near end by twisting in opposite direction to far end to warp all dubbing tightly around thread. Warp dubbed thread side-by-side forward to half- way point on shank, just forward of where tail and wing butts touch. Sparsely dubbed thread may be wrapped back and then forward to enlarge front of abdomen, but do not wrap dubbing forward of abdomen. Leave thread hanging at front of abdomen.

6. Select Whiting grizzly rooster hackle of appropriate size (approximately 1.5 gap width). Remove barbs from approximately 1/8 inch of feather shaft, hold hackle at 90 degree angle to shaft on underside of shank at forward tie-in point of abdomen, with top of hackle forward. Tie-in hackle shaft on underside of shank by wrapping thread in side-by-side wraps to eye. Make three wraps rearward from eye to what will be the forward tie-in point of hackle and rear of fly head. Wrap hackle forward, being sure to place one wrap in front of another as with thread wraps and tie in at forward tie-in point or rear of head. Tie-in by making three thread wraps towards eye and three more thread wraps rearward to back of head. Hold thread firmly upward with left hand and snap hackle rearward and off on underside of head with right hand. This will leave the hackle shaft under the thread wraps with no exposed butt requiring thread cover. Remove remaining barbs at front of head with needle-nose pliers. Whip finish thread in side-by-side wraps from rear of head to hook eye, clip thread with one scissor blade and apply preferred head cement to finish. Note: a brown hackle may be tied in directly in front of the grizzly hackle and wrapped sparsely forward with only two wraps in front of wings and tied in. Grizzly hackle may then be wrapped through brown hackle with final wrap in front of forward brown hackle wraps and tied in as described above.




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