The Traditional Adams

~By: Lance Dean | September 29, 2014

Adams Fly
hen I see fish rising, the Adams is the first dry fly I fish.  The Adams was the second fly I learned to tie. The first was the Peacock Nymph. ( Link to Peacock Nymph) I am not sure why I picked the Adams as my first dry fly to tie; it was probably the easiest dry fly step by step tutorial I could find at the time that I had all the materials for.  I can remember the first few Adams that I tied, they used gray rabbit fur as dubbing for the abdomen and I only had a few grizzly feathers and they were way oversize, thick stemmed and had tons of webbing.  Even with the untraditional and oversized materials, those first Adams I tied caught me lots of fish.  

Until recently, I tied my Adams with grizzly and brown hackle fibers for the tail. After reading an article from the summer 2014 issue of Fly Tyer magazine called “Tie the Perfect Adams”,  I changed how I tie my Adams.  The author, Dennis Potter, writes about the many variations of the Adams.  One of the variations he wrote of was the Traditional Adams.  I knew that there were many variations of the Adams fly but I did not know that traditionally the Adams was tied with golden pheasant tippet for the tail.  I always thought that traditionally the Adams was tied with grizzly and brown hackle fibers and although, using Golden Pheasant tippet is not new to tying the Adams, it was a new to me.  Using the pheasant tippet adds icing to the cake.  Cake without icing is good, put frosting on it and cake becomes irresistible.  Now, I’m not saying that using pheasant tippet on the Adams makes it fish better;  I am just saying that I really like that way golden pheasant makes the Adams look.  In my opinion, the Adams can be tied both ways and it will fish the same.

Adams Fly
The most complicated part of tying the Adams is wrapping the hackle around the hook.  To make this step easier, make sure you use quality hackle and be sure to trim enough of the butt of stem to get rid of the stiff part of the hackle.  When I first tied the Adams I had to use whatever feathers I could find for the hackle of this fly. The feathers I used were very stiff and were not what I would categorize as quality dry fly hackle.   I can remember the first time I used “quality” hackle, it changed the experience of wrapping hackle around a hook from a bit frustrating to another enjoyable step to tying the Adams dry fly.  In my opinion the best dry fly hackle available is Whiting saddle hackle. Whiting saddle hackle feathers are thick as far as fibers per inch, have nice thin stems, and not much webbing on the feathers.  They are a pleasure to tie with.

In your opinion what is the simplest dry fly to tie?
Answer in the comments section.

Enjoy the video demonstration and the Step-By-Step Tutrorial.

Don't forget to like Fishbait's Fly Box on Facebook and subscribe to Fishbait's Fly Box blog and YouTube Channel.


TMC 100 - size 14
UTC 70 - Black
Pheasant Tippet or Hackle Fibers
Hackle Tips – Grizzly
Wapsi Superfine Dubbing – Gray
Saddle Hackle – Grizzly and Brown


  1. Secure hook in the vise.


  2. Start thread at the head of the hook and wrap around the hook to the Bend of the hook keeping the thread as flat as possible.


   3. Pull off dozen or so pheasant tippets or hackle fibers from the stem of a feather and secure them to the hook with a couple turns of thread.


  4. Trim the butt ends of the pheasant tippets.

  5. Wrap the thread to one eye length from the eye of the hook.

  6. Tie in the wings by measuring the tips of two grizzly hackles too, just a bit longer than one shank length of the hook.  Place them together so that the feathers curve away from each other and secure them on the hook at about eighty percent of the length of the shank.

  7. Wrap three or for more turns of thread towards the bend of the hook.

  8. Cut the butt ends of the hackle wings from the hook and then fold the wing fibers back along the hook shank towards the bend of the hook. The wrap thread up against the wings. These thread wraps need to be tight against the wings to make the wings stand upright.

  9. This is what the fly should look like if you did the previous step correctly.

  10. This is how the top of the fly should look.  Notice how the wings are spread apart. In a near 45 degree angle.

  11. Wrap the thread back to the bend of the hook.

  12. Dub the thread with a modest amount of dubbing.  We are shooting for a slim profile.

  13. Wrap the dubbed thread up the hook shank, tapering the body as you reach the seventy percent point of the hook.

  14. Prepare one grizzly and one brown hackle fiber by stripping the fibers off the butt of the stem of the feathers to the point the feathers can easily be wrapped around the hook shank.  The feathers should be gauged to the correct hook size you are using.

  15. Tie in the butt ends of these feathers at the seventy percent point of the hook. Bring the thread to the head of the fly.

  16. Wrap the hackle around the hook, using two to three turns behind the wings and two to three turns in front of the wings.

  17. Tightly secure the hackle to the head of the fly and cut the excess feathers off the hook.

  18. Create a small head with the thread, whip finish the fly and cut the thread from the completed Adams.

No comments:

Post a Comment