The Parachute Adams is a great variation of one of the greatest and most popular dry fly patterns ever created. I presently have a custom order for eight dozen trout flies for a client in eastern Pennsylvania, and the Parachute Adams, a dozen in size #12, was the first pattern on his list. The fellow has been buying flies from me every year, for at least ten years. It’s nice to have customers who give you repeat business! He fishes the Beaverkill and Delaware a lot, plus makes trips to Colorado.
The Parachute Adams is a great attractor pattern, it is also a good searching pattern, especially in broken water on big rivers and smaller freestone streams of both east and west. It is effective in sizes from #8 to #18 or even #20, though I personally prefer not to tie them smaller than a #16. An excellent variation of the Parachute Adams is to substitute olive dubbing for the usual gray body. As I tied these flies this morning, I was inspired to take some photo sequences, sort of a tying tutorial of sorts. And I also want to add a little fly tying diversification to the posts I make here. Keeping more on topic than stories and photos of white-tailed deer fawns, this dry fly pattern post is an effort in that direction. Also, be on the lookout soon, maybe even later today, for two of my original Rangeley style streamers, as promised: Carrie’s Killer and Carrie’s Ghost. (Hope you folks are not tiring of my spate of recent posts).
I still have seven more dozen flies to tie to finish this order – all drys – likely they’ll end up here too – plus I plan to knock off later this afternoon to head to Spring Creek near Bellefonte, because I figure this hot weather will produce a heavy sulphur spinner fall this evening. Among the tying and fishing yet to come today, I also need to squeeze in a little time with the mower on the yard. OK, tying the Parachute Adams:
#12 standard dry fly hook, the wing is attached but not yet posted around the base. The wing is calf body hair – presently it’s kind of like a calf-hair Comparadun. The next step will be to post around the base of the hair fibers to gather the wing together.
I tie on a Regal Stainless steel C-clamp vise. One advantage on the non-true rotary feature of the Regal vise is that when inverted, it presents the upright wing in this angle. This allows me to post the base of the wing while keeping my right arm and elbow comfortably and more naturally low at my side, instead of having to raise my elbow high if I had to post the base of the wing when in a vertical position. Calf body hair has no underfur and it is very slippery. What I call a Balanced Thread Wrap is required to post the base of the hair without having your thread slip off.
A Balanced Thread Wrap is when you balance the thread tension according to match the material being tied in, or wrapped around. In this case it is a taut, but not tight tension. You can also add a bit of head cement to the base of the wing before starting your wraps, this helps prevent the thread from slipping off.
Attaching the hackles: Once I get eight to twelve wraps around the base of the hair and have wound the thread to the base of the wing, I make one wrap over the hook shank – this helps prevent the thread from slipping off the wing during the next step – attaching the hackles. Take two previously prepared, clipped hackles and hold them with your right hand to the base of the post. Using your left hand for the bobbin, make a few balanced thread wraps over the hackle stem butts. Then wind back to the top (or bottom since this is inverted), of the wraps and grasp the wing post with my right hand then apply a few tight tension thread wraps to secure the thread around the hackle stems. Then switch the bobbin to your right hand and make a few more tight wraps. Return vise jaws to upright position and advance thread to hook point.
The hackle stem butts are comparable to a phrase associated with a Martini at this stage, shaken, not stirred, but in this case they should be clipped, not stripped. This leaves little butt ends of hackle barbs that help the thread bite into the feather stems more securely.
For production purposes, all 24 hackles for these flies were sizes, selected, and prepared in advance.
Vise jaws returned to upright position, ready to attach the tail fibers. Advance the thread to the hook point.
A mix of brown and grizzly spade hackle fibers is used for the tail. Tail length should equal hook shank length, minus the eye. Spade hackles come from the outer edges of dry fly necks or capes, and is free of barbules or webbing. The fibers are attached at the hook point, then wound over the butt ends toward the wing post, then back to base of tail, with the end of the body vertically positioned slightly ahead of the hook barb.
Tail fibers wrapped over and secured, ready for application of dubbing. No need to make a solid winding of thread; tight, palmer wraps can be used to lock ‘er down. Saves time.
Note: you could wait until after the tail is attached to mount the hackles around the base of the wing post. But that means a forward advance of the thread, then back to the tail to apply the dubbing. Extra time. I always attach the hackles right after posting the wing. But in this case I forgot. Senior moment? Apologies for the less-than-sharp images, I hand held the camera and did all these images in “one take.”
Hareline Dark Gray rabbit dubbing applied. Originally the Adams was tied with natural gray muskrat fur.
The finished Parachute Adams.
Very important tip here: From my fellow tier and friend, Tom Baltz of Mt. Holly Springs, Pennsylvania, for you right-handed tiers, wind the hackles counter-clockwise. This changes the angle of the barbs when wound to point away from you when you finish the thread wraps to lock the stem in after being wound. No more trapped hackle fibers! The tying thread can be wound almost normally, because the hackles fibers, now pointing away from the direction of your thread wraps, simply slide out of the way. Left-handed tiers, you would wind clockwise if you tie in normal left-handed fashion.
I still prefer to use a finishing technique that I perfected years back when I wound the hackles clockwise, and needed to get fibers out of the way to wind off the head. I use the little finger on my left hand to hold the tube of the bobbin. Holding the bobbin back out of the way, I load my Materelli whip finisher while having the use of my left thumb and all three remaining fingers to pull the hackle fibers out of the way. I then use the Matarelli, making 5 – 6 turns. Clip thread off, add a small drop of head cement for extra durability, and you’re done.
A “studio shot” of the Parachute Adams.
Hook: Standard dry fly hook, sizes #8 to #16
Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #31 Gray or Uni-Thread 8/0 Gray , brown thread could also be used
Wing: White calf body hair
Hackle: Brown and grizzly mixed
Tail: Brown and grizzly mixed
Body: Dark gray rabbit or muskrat dubbing
If you have never fished the Parachute Adams, I suggest it’s high-time you tie some and give them a try!