Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Only Dry You'll Ever Need

Novelist and sporting writer, Thomas McGuane, described it as “gray and funky and a great salesman.” Gray? Certainly. Funky? Perhaps. But as a salesman—considering its number one ranking among commercial dry fly patterns now stands at an unprecedented 87 years and counting—albeit these days the parachute style is all the rage. But style aside, day in day out, as dry flies go, the Adams has few peers.

Asked to explain its origins, Michigan fly-tier, Len Halladay, wrote: The first Adams I made (1922) was handed to Mr. Adams, who was fishing a small pond in front of my house, to try on the Boardman (River) that evening. When he came back next morning, he wanted to know what I called it. He said it was a “knock-out” and I said we would call it the Adams, since he made the first good catch on it. The rest is, as they say, history.

Most anglers I think would agree the best thing about the Adams in a pinch it mimics a wide range of insects—close enough anyway. A trait that makes it one of the best searching patterns out there. Adams himself is said to have thought it best imitated an ant. Almost magically it becomes a caddis, a midge, a pmd, a baetis and well, just about whatever. In the backcountry it just may be the only dry fly you’ll ever need. Asked to name his three favorite hatches, Art Bivens, veteran Montana guide, replied with a sly grin, “Baetis, golden stone and Adams.”

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