Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Adams Family

Ask any fly fisherman to name a dry fly; what answer would you get? Greenwells Glory certainly, the Wulff series quite possibly, but I suspect the number one answer will be the Adams. If you fly fish then I'm sure you will have used one at some point and if you regularly fish rivers then I bet I can find a few in your fly box; such is the effectiveness of this fly in its many guises.

It will come to no surprise that one of the biggest selling dries is the parachute Adams, indeed one of my favourite flies is a Klinkhåmer tied in an Adams fashion. It's grey/brown colouration has proved itself to imitate acceptably a manner of food items, but invariably its staple use is to imitate various Ephemeroptera, notably the flies fishermen call olives.

This fish fell to an Adams Klinkhåmer, it was feeding on ascending and hatching caddis.
The Adams was created by Leonard Halladay in 1922 and first used my Charles F. Adams. The original pattern was tied with a chunky grey yarn body, two golden pheasant tippet fibres for the tail and the wings were tied semi-spent. The original fly's development started on the Mayfield pond, an impoundment of the Swainston Creek, but the fly became synonymous with the Boardman River; of which the Swainston Creek is a tributary. The morning after the fly's first outing Mr Adams is to have stated that the new fly was a knock out, and asked what Mr Halladay was going to name it. He said he would call it the Adams as it was Mr Adams who had the first great catch with it.

Len Halladay's original Adams, tied with muskrat body.
Front view showing the semi-spent wings.
As with many flies the Adams quickly began to change. In the 1920's and 30's the Adams was being moulded around the Catskill style dries; the wings drawn upright and divided with the body being trimmed down to the slim profile we recognise today. The tippet fibre tails were abandoned possibly due to a lack of support at the tail end, or simply as a result of natural progression. The now accepted grizzle/red game hackle fibre tail was pictured in Ray Bergman's Trout showing that the original tippet tail was being replaced as early as 1938.
The Adams dry fly as we know it today.
Close up of the Adams showing the red game and grizzle hackle.
So we all know what an Adams looks like but what else can we do with the dressing formula? As said at the beginning of this article the number one selling dry fly is the parachute Adams. Parachute style dries are universally popular, I like to tie mine with a dun coloured post in keeping with an olive dun theme.

The parachute Adams, the best selling dry fly.
The medium grey dun wing provides a positive trigger for fish rising to duns.
Muskrat is an excellent body material for dry flies.

I've mentioned about one of my favourite variations, the Adams klink. I have used this for a number of years as a general searching pattern that has also caught well during hatches of large dark olives.

My Klinkhåmer Adams, if I was limited to one fly this would be it.

What about an Adams paraloop emerger. It could be tied in many different styles from a standard style dry fly with a sparkle yarn tail, to a curved hook emerger with a dense hackle keeping it afloat.

Adams paraloop emerger, the shuck is sparkle emerger yarn

Adams paraloop emerger on a grub hook, general all-round pattern.
I have recently shown on my blog my rendition of a Humpy tied as an Adams. I look forward to trying this fly out next season, with success I hope.

So they we are, one successful formula for a renowned pattern applied to other styles of flies. Imagine the possibilities every fly pattern offers, if tweaked a little; evolution is constant.

Monday, 3 February 2014

A platoon of paraduns with some forward thinking concerning general imitations

Since coming back in to fly fishing last year, I have been non-stop tying flies and filling boxes up. I have reached a point where I'm questioning, how many patterns do I need. I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling that I need this and that pattern, just in case, but how many will I really use. I have my favourite PhD along with my Barbour olive dun; these I suspect will be my mainstays throughout the season with the JT olive as a side kick. Biot bodied plume tips, Muskrax, SoS and Paraduns will be the necessary back ups.

The thing with paraduns is how many variations will you likely need? It is far too easy to fill up your fly boxes with a myriad of different colours and sizes. Simplifying things to a basic level we can group olive duns into three sizes;

Large, (16) to imitate the large dark olive; round my neck of the woods anyway.
Medium, (18) will cover medium olive, large spurwings/pale watery, iron blue and blue winged olive.
Small (20) for small dark olive, small spurwings/pale watery.

With sizes sorted out what colours should we be looking at? Perhaps we should really consider them shades as they will all be some sort olive.

Dark for large and small dark olives.
Medium for the medium olive and BWO.
Light for the spurwings/pale watery.

The iron blue requires a colour of its own due to its very specific dark colouration.

So now we have decided what colours we need, we can now combine them with the relevant sizes and decide which variations of paradun we need to tie. I have whittled down my requirements to a large and small dark paradun, and both medium and light paraduns in medium and small sizes. I haven't come across the iron blue dun, but there is no reason they don't exist in the waters I fish, and for that reason it wouldn't hurt to have a paradun to cover that eventuality.

Other considerations when tying your selection of paraduns are wing and hackle colour. Again to keep with the simple theme you need only medium dun poly yarn and medium and light dun hackles; my own are medium grey dun and light brown dun. The iron blue again needs its own materials but a dark dun hackle and wing will suffice.

I know this extremely simplified, nevertheless I feel this would cover most
situations without leaving the angler at a disadvantage.

Dark paradun
Medium paradun
Light paradun
The hackle on the dark and medium paraduns came from the same cape, not sure why the hackle on the top fly looks much darker. I have used Masterclass SLF dubbing for these flies. The dark dun is colour number 01 Baetis brown olive, medium dun is number 02 Baetis green olive and the light dun is number 05 Baetis pale watery. You can find individual packs of dubbing at Funky Fly tying here.