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Size 16 Adams


Adams...The Classic Dry Fly
Tied by: Richard Alves

Difficulty: FlyFly Fly



The Adams is one fly you always need to have in your flybox. The coloration is varied enough to imitate many types of mayflies. When you don't have the exact match for a March Brown or a Pale Morning Dun, the Adams just might work. This fly has taken more trout than any other pattern invented!

A Word About Dry Flys...
Hackle, chicken feathers from the neck and back, float the dry fly on the surface film of the water. High quality hackle (stiff) will float a fly better and longer, making a better presentation particularly in moving water. Buy the best you can afford. Many commercially tied flys use lower quality hackle and most are sparsely tied, fine for small lakes. The ability to vary the fly for the conditions you will be fishing is the strongest reason I can think of for tying your own!


How to Fish | Variations | How to Tie | More Flys


  • Tail extends past the bend the length of the hook shank.
  • The Hook Shank is 50% body, 40% hackle, 10% head (Finish Knot).
  • Hackle length (feather segment from shaft to segment tip) is 1 1/2 times the distance between the point and the shaft of the hook. Most fly shops carry hackle guages, or you can easily make one. By bending the feather, the segments will stand perpindicular to the shaft for measuring. I just bend a likely candidate around the hook of the fly I'm working on to check size.
  • Wings are slightly longer than the hackle.

Material List

  • Standard Shank Hook size 10 - 22
  • Brown and Grizzly Feather Segments, or Moose Hair (Tail)
  • Black or Gray Thread
  • Gray poly or muskrat Dubbing
  • Grizzly Hackle Tips (Wings)
  • Grizzly and Brown Hackle

How to Tie the Adams

Wrapping the Hook

Wrapping the Hook
Wrap the hook with thread and apply a small amount of lacquer.

Feather Segments

Selecting Feather Segments
I use a large feathers from the hackle saddle too large to actually use for hackle. As one feather will provide tail material for quite a few flys, I keep a small box of them at my desk. Separate feather segments from the quill. Evenly mix Grizzly and Brown keeping the ends even. A sparsely tied #12 may only use 10 feather segments. For flys larger than #14 moose hair can be substituted.

Dry Fly Tail

Tie in the Tail
Hold the tail with your left hand (if you're right handed) against the vise. Hold slightly toward you as you start to wrap to prevent the feather segments from rolling around the hook. Wrap half way up the hook shank then trim excess.

Making the Body

Making the Body
Prepare your dubbing. Make the dubbing tight and thin, it makes it easier to taper the body. Make a tapered body, larger to the front, by wrapping hook to half way up the shaft. Tie off with a couple of half hitches.

Tie in Wings

Attach Wings
Select two Grizzly Hackle tips. Align one feather on either side of hook shank pointing forward. The wings should be positioned in the center the 40% of the hook shank for the hackle this is accomplished by wrapping from that point to the front of the body. Trim Excess.

Wings Step 2

Standing the Wings
Pull the wings toward the tail and wrap this should make them stand straight up.

Standing the Wings

Standing the Wings Continued...
Wrap thread on both sides of the wing. As you wrap, you are pushing the wings away from the thread. You only need six wraps to get the wing in the proper position.

Spreading the Wings

Spreading the Wings
Separate the wings and apply a small amount of pressure so they end up at 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock around the axis of the hook shank. Wrap in a figure eight pattern to get them stay in position. The photo is taken looking at the top of the fly.

Note: I don't tie wings on hooks smaller than #18. At that size the fish don't seem to notice and it's really a challenge for my big fingers.


Select one Brown and one Grizzly hackle feather. Clean feather segments at the base where they are to be tied. Lay over the top of the hook shank so the first feather segments are even with the front of the body. Wrap a few times. Bend cleaned feather shafts down and forward. Wrap to back of wings on large flys or to the head of small ones. Continue wrapping until thread is at front of hook. Use hackle pliers to wrap hackle around hook shank. A sparsely tied fly may have one wrap of each hackle on either side of the wings. Larger heavily tied flys may have three wraps on either side of the wing. The hackle feathers can be wrapped together or separately. I find it easier to wrap them individually. Tie off hackle at head and whip finish.

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Have a variation you tie? EMAIL steelhead



Thread Body

Dubbed bodies tend to float a little better but the thread body is easier to tie. I like thread bodies for the smaller flys where flotation isn't such an issue.

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Fishing the Adams
Tell us how you fish this fly. EMAIL steelhead


This fly works for just about any mayfly hatch when you don't have the exact match. I also like to use it as an "aw shucks" pick when the fish won't hit anything. Since it resembles a lot of bugs it can work when the fish aren't keying on the current hatch.

Richard Alves
Fort Jones, CA

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