Fly of the Month: John's Adams Midge

This fly tying thing is still pretty new to me, so this is only the second fly I can lay claim to, and this one really somewhat by accident. For the past year, I thought it was a fly tied by ETU member and master fisherman Wayne Kosloske. In last month’s newsletter, I even promised that Wayne would tie it for us this month. But when I showed Wayne the fly I was talking about, he disclaimed it…saying nothing like that was part of his box.

Nevertheless, it is a great fly, a top-water midge imitation that is simply great around here on the slow-water spots of Bear Creek and anywhere you can reach on the Buchanan Ponds. I even hooked a rising fish with it on the second cast in Cheesman Canyon last week. And it floats and floats and floats because it is tied with foam. Equally important, it is really easy to tie.

As for the name, my first fly was the Washington Crab, a brightly festooned creation with red, white and blue legs. So, continuing the presidential theme, since this fly looks like an Adams fly imitating a midge, you get John’s Adams Midge. Besides, I kind of admire John Adams for being the serious, plodding, principled patriot that he was and that, despite a couple of seriously misguided acts, ultimately he made the difficult and unpopular choice for peace rather than war with France. In so doing, he sacrificed reelection, yet history judged he had made the right choice for our young nation.

Hook: TMC 2487 #18-22 (I tie almost all 20's or 22's)
Thread: Tan 8/0
Tail: Fibers from brown dry fly hackle
Body: Tan micro foam strip 2mm x 1/2mm (I use Wrightway foam strips
but you can get 2mm thick foam sheets and cut really thin strips)
Wing: One each of grizzly and brown dry fly hackle, slightly oversized to hook
Tying Instructions

Start your thread about ¼ down the hook behind the eye and wrap down just onto the bend and then back up about three wraps.

Next, select from a brown dry fly cape a large feather such as you might use for a Woolly Bugger. This will be the feather you will use for getting the tail hackle for several flies. Bend the feather and select a nice clump of a dozen or so fibers, pull off, even up the tips and clip off the butt ends. Now tie these in so that the tips extend almost a hook length beyond the tie-in point. I use three increasingly tight wraps so that the fibers roll up on top of the hook and the tips flare out slightly. Clip off the excess butts.

Tie in your foam strip. First cut one end of the strip at a 45-degree angle and, assuming you are a right-handed tier, place the strip against the hook so that the tip of that angle is on your left and the strip of foam is leaning off to the left. Tim took an extra photo demonstrating with a bare hook just how you should place the foam. Now tie it down with three good, smooth wraps and move the thread forward to just behind the eye of the hook.


The reason to cut the strip at an angle is that it lets you start your wrap with a nice smooth edge. So, go ahead and start wrapping, overlapping the edges slightly just enough to keep the body smooth and to provide a very slight cigar shape to the body. The foam will stretch to help you keep the body slim. Tie off just behind the eye.

Make two or three wraps with your thread back over the foam about ¼ of the way back toward the bend of the hook. This will be the tie-in point for your hackle. I always tie in both pieces of hackle at the same time. You may prefer to do each piece separately, which is the traditional way of tying an Adams fly. On the fly shown here, I used slightly larger than #20 hackle to fill the large gap of the 2487 hook. Besides, I just like the way it looks.

So, with the brown and grizzly hackle placed in the same positions, I tie them in with three tight wraps of thread so that the butts extend down and below the eye. Cut off the excess butts. Make two or three wraps with the two hackle. Two wraps are usually enough. I do the hackle together, though some folks may prefer to do them one at a time.

Tie off a little bit behind the eye, so there is room for just a small thread head on the fly. Usually, my first knot is a half hitch tied using the tip of ballpoint pen, and then a traditional whip finish. The half hitch will push back any hackle and get a knot in place before moving on to the more difficult whip finish. Wet you fingers and pull the hackle back to get it out of the way for the whip finish. That’s it.

This is a really quick, simple and effective fly when you see fish rising to a midge hatch. Get out the 6X to make it a challenge. Wayne says – even though he still won’t claim the fly – that he would fish it with some floatant on both the fly and the leader, except for the last length of 6x. Let the Adams Midge sit on the water for a minute before moving it around just a little. The fish will sip it in. Enjoy! - John Haile. Photos by Tim Stechert