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The Legendary Adams
Mick remembers a top fly now that the tying materials are more readily available
Freshwater Fishing magazine Issue 90 May/June 2008

The original pattern is as follows:
Hook: Original model or make is unknown but the Partridge TDW dry fly hook would be the best substitute
Size: 10-20
Thread: Grey
Wings: Grizzle hackle tips tied upright and divided
Tail: Grizzle and brown hackle barb or fibres mixed together
Body: Dubbed Muskrat fur with guard hairs removed
Hackle:  Brown and Grizzle cock hackles wound together so that the colours blend.
Notes:  You are better off tying in the hackle tip wings taken  from either a hen or cock cape as normally the stem of the feather is a little thicker that a saddle hackle.  It simply makes them easier to work with.  In many parts of Australia and England grizzle hackle is known as Plymouth barred rock.

Original Adams
EP Adams

When tying posts to create a base for parachute hackles, it is easier if you tie the butt section of your winging material facing towards the eye of the hook.  Make sure you tie the post onto the hook shank half way between the eye and the point of the hook.  This way you will achieve maximum balance for your fly so that it sits right on the water.  Once you have secured the post with just a good number of wraps in front of the post, add a few more wraps behind the post, then tilt the hook in the vice so that the eye points down towards your work bench.  Then you will be able to wrap your thread around the base of the post to reinforce the post without it wobbling all over the place.
The success of the Adams in Australia is beyond question.  Tied in its smaller sizes 20-14, it becomes a great all-round pattern to match most of the baetid duns that come off our waterways.  Highly recommended for any fly box.

To read more about this amazing range of Trigger Point winging materials......click


The TPI Adams as designed by Mick Hall

Hook: Partridge TDH Dry Fly
Size: 20-10
Tail: As original or Cree hackle fibres if available
Body: Dubbed Muskrat fur minus guard hairs
Post: Enrico Puglisi Trigger Point wing fibres
Colour: Quick Silver
Hackle: Cree or as original tied parachute fashion four turns only

Left:  The EPTPI Adams as designed by Mick Hall

Now those angling ghosts of old such as Marriot, F.M. Halford, James William Lunn and Skues would roll over in their cigar ash and port spillings if they knew that the traditions that they laid down a century ago were being over-shadowed by interlopers from an ex colony.  However you can’t put a good fly down and the Adams has earned its dues and has resulted in the demise of many a good trout.  So much so that I thought I would look a little closer into the origins and tyings of one of the world favourite flies.

There is also a strong suggestion that the original was intended to have had a Cree hackle instead of blending two hackles together to come up with the same colour configuration.  Because of the rarity of Cree feathers, the substitute configuration was favoured; I suppose it was more marketable because the grizzle and brown hackle were easily obtainable.

Cree hackles, as many of you would know, are almost impossible to obtain; they are as scarce as the fabled Coch-y-Bondhu hackle, being a black centre, red middle with black tips.  This cape came into demand way back in the late 1800s with the development of the Greenwell’s Glory.  Its second cousin the Furnace, with a black centre and brown tips, is little more common.  Both the Cree and the Coch-y-Bondhu are throwbacks or mutants and at this stage are very difficult to produce as a freely available product and on that rare occasion that one does turn up at a retail outlet, it does not last long on the shelf.

A couple of years ago I was invited to fish the fabled River Test in Hampshire England.  It is a dream of most learned flyflickers to one day fish this historic piece of water.  I had a great day, great company and a lot of fish were caught.  To be honest, that is another story.  The other day I was reading a book by Charles Bingham, called The River Test, and as you can imagine, it brought back vivid memories of that magical day.  The book is really a portrait of the Test and among its pages there is a picture of some of the famous Test flies that are used on this water.  They include patterns such as Lunn’s Particular, Caperer, Houghton Ruby, Little Marriot, Halford Mayfly, the Gold-ribbed Hare’s Ear and an American interloper, the world famous Adams.

We are told that the Adams was designed by Leonard Halladay of Mayfield, Michigan.  According to Terry Hellekson, author of “Fish Flies” Vol 1, published in 1995 by Frank Amato Publications Inc, the fly was first used on Michigan’s Broadman River by Charles F Adams way back in 1922.  So successful was the fly in the hands of this old master that it was named in his honour.  The original Adams was tied with spent wings, with some suggestions that it was designed as an ant pattern.  Today it is commonly tied upright with a collar hackle or as a parachute hackled fly.

Trout Food
What the Adams is typically meant to imitate - trout food!
Hebert Cree Cape
Whiting Barred Dark Ginger Saddle
Left:  A very rare, original Hebert Cree Cape circa early 1990s, now a collector's item. 
Note:  Hebert capes are now produced by Whiting Farms.
Below:  The header board on this saddle is only a Pro Grade and that is one of the cheapest saddle patches on the market - great value.  Notice the cree feathers running down the centre of this saddle patch.

Today the Adams is ranked within America’s top ten flies and for it to be included in a ‘must have’ list for the River Test in England, it really does deserve the entire accolade that it gets.
As with all great patterns they spawn heaps of offspring and here in Australia the most popular version is without question tied with a parachute hackle and most that we see for sale simply have a Grizzle hackle and Calf body fibres for a post.  Why they have dropped the brown hackle I don’t know; I feel it makes this fly and if you are into tying your own, you owe it to yourself to include it per the original.

Before leaving this subject, another very close cousin to the Cree is the range of Grizzles that are available from Whiting Farms and include barred gingers as well as the standard grizzly range and often you get some throw backs on these capes and saddles.
The Barred Ginger Saddle featured has a number of Cree feathers running down the centre of the saddle patch.  This a more common occurrence so keep you eye out for them.

Whiting Cree Saddle Feather
Right:  The true cree featuring all of the colours required for the original Adams in one feather.