Bead-head Adams
By James Birkholm (Castwell), Washington
Previous Flies
Fly Tying Terms

One of the most simple flies ever, this has few parts and none difficult to apply. One first must get over the idea that the Adams has a tail of hackle fibers. The Adams was a poor floating dry fly due to the tail material and the slim body of wool. It was intended for use when caddis were present and as such did not ride high. The caddis as it emerges is more in the surface than on it. Do not confuse the Adams with an emergers however, it is simply that caddis do not emerge well or tidily. This version is a natural extension of the Adams. One could use various material for the 'bead' so as to facilitate differing depths of the fly. I discourage this as I prefer to regulate depth by mending and not weight as this gives a better action to the fly.


Materials list: Bead-head Adams

    Hook: Any dry fly hook.

    Thread: Brown or black.

    Tail: Pheasant crest tippet.

    Body: Grey wool.

    Head: Bead of choice.

    Wing/legs: One brown and one grizzly hackle feather (hen), I used JV Hen feathers from Denny Conrad at Conranch Hackles.

Method: Bead-head Adams

    Step 1

    1. Slide bead on and start thread behind bead. Lay a foundation of thread behind the bead and then wind to rear of hook.

    Step 2

    2. Tie in a sprig of tippet and the end of a length of wool yarn. Bring thread to head.

    Step 3

    3. Wind wool on tightly and level to behind bead. Take a turn around the wool with the thread as in the Helen Shaw method and tie down.

    Step 4

    4. Trim wool and tie in the two feathers by their tips, trimming the feather ends.

    Step 5

    5. Wind both hackle feathers at the same time, slanting back, as in the wet fly manner.

    Step 6

    6. Take a turn around both feathers with the thread and tie down, finishing with a full whip-finish behind the head. Cement as desired.

This fly along with the Adams (dry) should allow the beginner the ability to cover nearly any serious fly fishing situation. One could get carried away and create all sorts of Adams flies, a virtual Adams' Family, but I am more a minimalist and suggest you rely on form and presentation rather than exact imitation. For more on this fly and how it was created, click HERE. ~ Castwell

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