Views From My Side of the Vise

May, 2023

Just over 100 years ago, Charles Adams and his son Lon were out fishing in northern Michigan. From what I have read, they were somewhat frustrated by not having the right flies to match a hatch. So they visited a local friend and fly tyer Leonard Halladay in Mayfield, Michigan. Mr. Halladay tried to come up with a pattern that would meet Mr. Adams’ needs and the Adams dry fly was created.

The traditional Adams is one of the few patterns that I cannot tie to my liking. I never seem to be able to get the upright wings tied in so they look right. I wonder if that’s why someone along the way created the Parachute Adams?

So let’s briefly talk about the Parachute Adams. I can tie this pattern pretty darn okay. Parachute-style flies are really not my favorite to tie, but I do tie them because they catch fish. Never one to accept “good enough” when it comes to my flies, I slogged (some would say stumbled) ahead in pursuit of a more perfect Adams. After years of exhaustive (and exhausting) research and experimentation at the bench and on the stream, my version of this classic is a mash-up of the original Adams, the Parachute Adams, the Adams Cripple from Blue Ribbon Flies and the Gray Haze Cripple from Walter Wiese at Yellowstone Country Fly Fishing that I call the Adams Special.

Hook: Size 16 or 18 dry fly hook

Tail: Mayfly Brown Zelon

Abdomen: Dun Bug Legs from Fly Tyers Dungeon

Wing: White Widows Web

Collar: Grizzly Rooster Hackle

For the abdomen on this pattern, I have settled on the dun-colored Bug Legs. I have not found this exact color from similar stretchy floss materials. The Bug Legs will not get darker when they get wet or covered in floatant. The poly wing is easy to see on the water just like a parachute post. The finished fly also maintains some of the same qualities of the traditional Adams. Give this pattern a try and see if it might not become your favorite Adams-style dry fly. Or you could decide to put your faith in one of the titans of fly tying who inspired my creation (Leonard Halladay, Craig Matthews or Walter Wiese) and use their version. I might sulk briefly, but I’ll get over it.

Paul Johnson

Waconia, Minnesota

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