Local Favorites – The Adams Dry Fly

Note: this post was first written several weeks ago. As I put the finishing touches on it, we still have a decent snow pack, but spring does not seem so far off after all.

I have to admit that it’s a struggle to put words to, errr, “blogpaper”, this snowy cold morning.  Spring seems so far off as I look out my study window.  Nonetheless, herein lies the first of a series of posts on local favorite fly patterns – STFF’s attempt to catalog the patterns that work well in Southern Tier NY waters.

We’re starting off nice and easy with one of the classic dry fly patterns of all time.   The Adams dry fly pattern was designed by Len Halladay of Michigan in 1922 at the request of his close friend Charles Adams.  Interestingly enough, the original pattern was believed to have been a down wing style to more closely imitate a caddis.  Halladay apparently came up with the pattern to fool the finicky German brown trout that were stocked in the Boardman River to compensate for the loss of native grayling and brook trout.  He gave one of his new flies to his friend, Mr. Adams, who fished it and returned to Hallady, declaring the new fly “a knock-out.”  By 1934, the Adams fly was patented by William Avery Bush of Detroit, Michigan and sold commercially.

Sr. STFF Staff member Dan is a very skilled fly tyer and recently “loaned” me a fine example of this classic dry fly (good luck getting it back Dan).  Dan’s description of the fly follows:

This ‘catch-all’ attractor dry fly works extremely well on freestone trout streams during the mayfly hatches seen in April through early May.  It can be very effective during dark hendrickson hatches.  It can be fished in fast or slow water, upstream dead drift or quartered.  Don’t forget to try it as a ‘wet fly’ (drowned dry); in many instances this technique can trigger aggressive strikes.

Dan’s secret recipe is unique in its use of muskrat fur:

Adams Dry – Traditional

Hook size 12, 14, or 16 (1x of 2x shank)

Tail – mixed fire brown and grizzly hackle fibers

Body – dark muskrat underbelly fur

Wing – grizzly hackle tips, tied spent wing stile

Hackle – combined fire brown and grizzly hackle

And, the result:

The Adams Dry Fly - a buggy fish-catching pattern if there ever was one...


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