March 2010


Tom Murray


Hooks: Dry fly hook, size of choice (12 - 18, 20, or smaller)
Thread: Black
Tail: Mixed Barred Plymouth
Rock (or grizzly) and brown
hackle barbs
Body: Gray dubbing material,
fur, wool, or synthetic poly fiber tied sparse
Hackle: Mixed Barred Plymouth Rock (or grizzly)
and brown
Wind the hackle together
two turns or less
Wings: Barred Plymouth
Rock (or grizzly) hackle points

Comments and Tying Instructions:
In Trout Fishing by Joe Brooks (1972), I found the following history about the creation of the Adams, a classic mayfly imitation:

The Adams is the most famous of all Michigan ties. It was designed by Len Holliday of Mayfield, MI and named in honor of his fishing pal, Lon Adams, who was the first fly fisher to actually fish this versatile fly. As Joe Brooks often said, "When in doubt, try an Adams." Here is the basic recipe:
  1. Tie in the tail hackle barbs-just slightly longer than the shank of the hook.
  2. Dub the body sparsely about 2/3 the length of the shank of the hook
  3. Tie in the hackle points for the wings in the partially spent position-shaped like a "V".
  4. Tie in the two hackle Barred Rock and brown feathers and wind them behind and in front of he wings-no more than two turns.
  5. Tie off the head
If you have not tied the Adams or it has been a while, I always recommend starting off with a standard size 12 dry fly hook and then work up to the smaller sizes (18's-22's or even smaller) to imitate the Blue Winged Olives and midges. Many tiers use different materials and body colors. but tend to keep the basic pattern. In recent years, I have also tied the Adams patterns using the parachute hackle style. I like the way it floats on the surface and the fish also seem to like it!

I learned to tie this fly from guys who used golden pheasant tippets for the tail, which are also used in tying the Royal Coachman tail. (A sample of the Adams with the golden pheasant tippet tail is shown below.) In my experience, both tails work well.

Hope you enjoy tying and fishing the Adams.

Adams with Golden Pheasant tail

Photographs ©2010 by Marv Slind