How to Tie a Parachute Adams Fly

The Parachute Adams is probably one of the most popular dry flies in fly fishing. It is every angler first choice and rarely disappoints. The combination of its versatility, reliability and visibility in the water makes it the top choice in fly fishing, and it pays to have a few sizes and colours in your fly box.
how to tie a Parachute Adams fly

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So what is a Parachute Adams? A Parachute Adams is designed to imitate a few different hatching insects, mainly the mayfly, but midges and even caddis are covered with this pattern. The second interesting factor of the Parachute Adams is its ‘parachute‘. It is the parachute that gives the fly its extra floating attributes as well as a great buggy looking appearance. In fly tying, this is made from one or sometimes two hackles. It can be tricky with two, and it may pay to watch a few videos to master it. The Parachute Adams pattern is a staple fly fishing fly for any condition and should be kept in various colours and sizes.

how to tie a Parachute Adams fly

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Materials

  • Hook: Dry fly hook size 12 down to a size 18
  • Thread: Griffiths Sheer 14/0 or a 22 thread in white or Adams gray
  • Tail: Coq de Leon brown or white.
  • Body: Hareline superfine dubbing, brown or light gray
  • Post: Egg yarn or Sculpting fibre in a white or hot spot orange are common choices.
  • Parachute/ wing: Any good quality hackle brown or grizzly as long as it’s sized correctly with a hackle gauge.

You can also visit our top pick for the Best UV Resin Fly Tying here.

How To Tie a Parachute Adams

how to tie a Parachute Adams fly step 1

Lock your hook in the vice, making sure it is secure and not too close to the tip of the jaws, as the hook may slip when you apply tension to it. I advocate using barbless hooks where possible to ease the removal and minimise the damage done to the fish.

how to tie a Parachute Adams fly step 2

Prepare the Parachute Adams fly by tying in a solid level base to work with. This is particularly important when you tie in the post to prevent it from spinning or slipping on the shank.

how to tie a Parachute Adams fly step 3

Tying in the sculpting fibers lengthways on the hook shank for the post with a few tensioned wraps. Twist the fibre 90 degrees and wrap in a figure of 8 over and around the hook shank. Making sure the wraps are tight and secure the post properly. Pull the tips upwards and wrap a column of thread, making the post. It’s important to get this stage correct as you don’t want it moving around when you wrap the hackle around it, or worse yet, it spins out after the first fish has eaten it. In the older versions, the technique involved using calf hair as a post; these days, the sculpting fibre or poly yarn are preferred choices as they are more visible.

how to tie a Parachute Adams fly step 4

Wrap the thread back to the end of the hook and tie in your Coq de Leon tail fibres. Run the thread up and down the shank creating a good body taper and profile end with your thread at the base of the tail area.

how to tie a Parachute Adams fly step 5

Make a dubbing thread with your dubbing and wrap it forward towards the post, ensuring you keep that body taper. Stopping just behind the post.

how to tie a Parachute Adams fly step 6

Tie in your hackle feather with a concave facing away from you; grizzly is a great alternative colour. Make sure you have tied in the hackle properly and finish the thorax area of the fly ending with your thread just behind the hook eye.

how to tie a Parachute Adams fly step 7

With your hackle pliers, grip and wrap your hackle fibres downwards to create the wing, ensuring you don’t trap any fibres. Tie off the hackle securely.

how to tie a Parachute Adams fly step 8

I colour the thread with a red marker and whip finish a thread head to complete the fly. The red is often a great little trigger point on these flies and can often be the difference between getting a eat or not.

Finally, cut the post off at an angle. The angled cut gives a greater surface area to see when the fly is out on the water. This pattern has great visibility when compared to other flies.

Summarized step by step

  1. Hook in vice, start thread-based.
  2. Start with your post and tie it in nice and tight.
  3. Tie in the tail.
  4. Dub the body.
  5. Tie hackle in on the post.
  6. Dub thorax.
  7. Wind brown hackle fibers down.
  8. Whip finish.
  9. Trim post.

When fly tying this pattern, you can play around with different colors depending on what insects you want to imitate. Black, dun, olive, and gray are the most common options for this fly.

About the Parachute Adams

The Parachute Adams is an incredible dry fly pattern that works well on all types of water. The Adams fly is an attractor pattern that can be used to imitate many different types of caddisflies and mayflies, as well as midges, tricos, and blue winged olives.

It was first created by Leonard Halliday, a prominent fly angler, professional guide, and fly tying expert, back in the early 1920s. Halliday’s friend, Charles Adams, was out fly fishing on the Boardman River, northern Michigan, but having no luck catching anything. Disappointed by poor results he was having, Adams reached out to Halliday to get some advice and guidance from a local expert.

Halliday gave the original Parachute Adams fly to his friend to test out and see how it would fare, and Adams had amazing success. As a result, Halliday named this fly the Adams fly, began to sell it, and the rest is history. The popularity of this classic pattern soared and soon, fly fishers everywhere were stocking up on them.

What is a Parachute Fly?

A parachute fly stands out because it will land upright almost every single time you cast it. Parachute flies also float exceptionally well and are very visible to the angler, making it easy and enjoyable to use. You can see your fly and quickly detect a strike, so you don’t miss out on any bites.

Parachute flies were developed almost simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Alexander Martin was creating a parachute fly called the ‘ride-rite’ in Scotland around the same time that William Brush invented the ‘gyro’ parachute fly in America.

However, as Martin’s invention was the first to go through the patent process, he received most of the recognition for this significant development in the fly fishing world.

Over time, fly anglers have continued to adapt and improve parachute flies. In the 1970s, Swisher and Richards began to make parachute flies with a calf or deer hair post, which gave the fly added buoyancy and improved its performance on the water. Modern, artificial materials can also be used effectively.

What Does a Parachute Adams Imitate

What Does a Parachute Adams Imitate?

Parachute Adams can imitate many different families of caddis, midges, and mayflies. You can also mimic other insects depending on the colors, materials, and size you tie your flies.

The Parachute Adams is tied most often in gray, but there are many different variations, and you can experiment with different sizes and colors.

This is an attractor pattern, which means that it doesn’t precisely replicate any particular insect. Instead, it imitates a range of flies at a specific stage in their life cycle. In its original form, it most closely replicates Blue Winged Olives.

This dry fly is a realistic imitation of the adult caddis or mayfly, but its silhouette can also look like an injured dun or spinner. It’s the shape of this fly, rather than the color, that attracts trout and makes it an irresistible bite to eat. See also our full post on What Do Trout Eat here.

How to fish the Parachute Adams fly

I like to fish it the traditional way, but you can search the web for other ways to fish this fly.

A single dry fly is a traditional way to fish this fly on the river, search for signs of a hatch or anything related to one and gear up. Match the hatch as best you can. Start with the small flies first, and you will have a trout in no time.

Drag free drifts are the best way to get that natural presentation when fishing the Adams. A size 14 or 16 is what I like to start with and change up to or down from there.

The Parachute Adams dry fly is tied and fished in various colours and techniques around the world, and you will always find some sort of Adams pattern in a fly fishers box.

how to tie a Parachute Adams fly wrap up

The Wrap Up

So there you have our complete guide to the Parachute Adams dry flies! From tying techniques to the best fly fishing techniques with an Adams fly, you’ll be all set to get out on the water for some epic fly fishing action! The Parachute Adams is a classic and versatile dry fly that should be in your tackle box in several different sizes and colors.

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